Forgetting My Pen at General Conference Changed My Life
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“Forgetting My Pen at General Conference Changed My Life,” Ensign, October 2018

Digital Only: Young Adults

Forgetting My Pen at General Conference Changed My Life

Sometimes it’s the simplest actions that show you how much God is aware of you.

Note Taking

“Do you have a pen?” I asked my dad. It was the first session of general conference, and we had just sat down in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Dad shook his head. I kept digging through the gum wrappers and receipts at the bottom of my bag. I knew I had brought one. I had specifically put a notebook and pen in my bag the night before so I wouldn’t forget. And since I had my notebook, the pen had to be in here somewhere. I mean, we had driven straight here … I stifled a groan. The car.

“So much for taking notes,” I grumbled. But just as I reached down to put my notebook away, the elderly man next to me stuck out a beautiful ballpoint pen.

“It’s your lucky day,” he said. He turned back to the front for a moment, hesitating, before facing me again. “You want to hear something funny? As I was walking out of my hotel room this morning, I heard a voice tell me to bring an extra pen.”

I was caught off guard. I thought, “God inspired this random guy to bring me a pen?” I was a bit puzzled, given that my “notes” were usually half doodle, half writing down the speaker’s name. I rarely looked at my notes again after conference.

He seemed to sense my surprise. “You know,” he said, “if God cares enough to tell a complete stranger to bring you a pen, He must have something important to tell you.”

His words repeated in my mind as we waited for the start of the session. I quickly resolved to pay better attention this conference than I ever had before. For the first time, I went into conference absolutely certain that the Lord had a message for me.

With the first few notes of the opening song, I felt the Spirit flood the room. Thoughts came to my mind, and I started remembering past experiences and revelation I had forgotten. I started writing. This continued throughout the session. At times, I almost couldn’t write fast enough to record the inspiration. By the end of the meeting, I had pages and pages of notes. The handwriting wasn’t pretty, and the ink was smeared in some places. But it was some of the sweetest revelation I had ever received.

“Thank you so much,” I said to my neighbor after the closing prayer. “I wrote down so many things. Most of the stuff wasn’t even what the speakers said.” I started to hand back his pen.

“You keep it.” He grasped my hand and looked me firmly in the eyes. “Whenever you feel like God has forgotten you, I want you to look at this and remember that He loves you enough to tell a stranger to bring you a pen.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I thanked him again and left, pen in hand.

I still look back on the notes I took that conference. They have served as a comfort and guide in times of difficulty. And I still keep the pen on my desk. I don’t use it to write anymore—it has long since run out of ink. But on days when I feel alone or forgotten, I pick it up. I remember. I remember that God is mindful of me. That He loves me. That He wants to talk with me. And that in moments when through my own choices, my own mistakes, I put myself in a place where I can’t receive His wisdom, He will always extend a pen.