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