Having been a lifelong member, I sometimes wonder if I can learn anything new at general conference. When the general authorities focus on simple principles, I often think, “I already know this.” Each conference, I keep hoping for bold new declarations or policies, anything that surprises me.
This conference did surprise me. Not with bold declarations, but with a soft rebuking from the Holy Ghost telling me I had misunderstood some of the simple truths of the gospel. I don’t think I’m alone in this longing for “new and exciting” content, and I don’t think I’m alone in the need to reapproach some of the simple truths of the gospel. So, although the list of promptings and impressions I received is long, here are three truths that I have misunderstood.
Many of us want to make a difference in the world and in God’s work. We each bring unique talents, gifts, and perspectives, and I desperately want to understand my unique contribution to His “work and glory” (Moses 1:39). Despite this, I often disregard the simple yet vital work of temple and family history work. As we were recently reminded: “There are many worthy causes in the world. It’s impossible to name them all. … [But] the gathering makes an eternal difference to all.”1
Gathering Israel and understanding my life mission are not mutually exclusive. In fact, gathering Israel will help me understand my unique purpose.
I often don’t keep up with the Come, Follow Me reading schedule. I know I’m not alone in this. To make up for it, I’ll listen to gospel-related podcasts. I figure that it’s better than nothing at all. However, while those additional resources are interesting, “there is no substitute for the time you spend in the scriptures, hearing the Holy Ghost speak directly to you.”2
The days when I approach my scripture study with a prayer, a question, and a pen and paper to record my impressions, I receive answers that haven’t come any other way. Interestingly, on these days, I seem to read even less. But these precious minutes spent with the Holy Ghost, lingering on a verse or two, are more critical to my spiritual well-being than two hours spent listening to a podcast while I multitask.
I served a full-time mission but was devastated when I returned home earlier than expected. I’ve always wanted to raise a family, but I’m still unmarried. When I experience anxiety or depression, I wonder if I’ll ever fulfill my potential. I’ve spent a lot of time mourning the life I thought I was supposed to have. It’s tempting to want to put life on hold until it goes as I had planned. But, “Jesus Christ, through His atoning sacrifice, made it possible for us … to fulfill our purpose on earth regardless of decisions of family members, our marital status, physical or mental health, or any other situation.”3
Even though life hasn’t been what I thought it would be, I still have a meaningful purpose, and as I develop a relationship with my Savior, He will help me fulfill that purpose.
I came away from this conference feeling humbled and chastised. I realized that I have made assumptions about the gospel that are inaccurate or skewed. I learned that as I keep Heavenly Father involved in my quest for truth that the Holy Ghost will provide needed correction. The Spirit can help me correctly understand things that I may have misunderstood.
Along with these lessons, I came away from general conference knowing that Heavenly Father knows me and is aware of me.4 He will continue to guide and direct me, and through my Savior’s Atonement, I can become the person I was born to become.