Here’s the thing about General Conference that’s key: The talks can answer your prayers and give you specific, personal direction for whatever you’re dealing with in your life. When you open your mind and heart to the possibility of finding those answers, they are there. Totally there. This is where my deep love of General Conference comes from– some of my most specific, immediate answers to prayers and heart-musings have come through living prophets speaking straight to me right through my TV screen. Those answers have come in the form of reassurances, gentle chastenings, practical ideas, reminders, and simple expressions of love. The Holy Ghost helps me feel what the message is for me.
Here are a few disjointed thoughts and suggestions that might help you get more out of your conference experience.
- Pray. A lot. Just ramp it up a little this week. Any time you find yourself worrying or wondering or stressing about anything in your life– no matter how small– make it a matter of prayer. Even a quick turn-your-thoughts-upward prayer will do. Lay that concern out for Heavenly Father and ask Him to help you find some kind of answer or direction as you listen to conference.
- Write those questions down. This can help you keep them in your prayers and thoughts. It can be a list or a collection of scrap paper. One year I wrote individual questions on post-it notes and stuck them in my scriptures. You might even want to keep those written questions right on your lap as you listen to the conference talks. Keep looking at them and keep listening for related content. If talks don’t seem to be specifically addressing your concerns, keep an open heart and keep track of your thoughts and desires and “self-“generated goals. (Take notes on that stuff, too. It’s just as important as the messages themselves.) They often point you in the right direction of the solution you’re looking for.
- President Eyring taught a really cool concept in the May 1997 Ensign: “In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention…” A great way to help you notice what is being repeated is to review the last conference before you listen to this one. Take the time this week to read through April’s conference Ensign. You may not have time to read the whole thing, but maybe you can skim it and just scan for themes and doctrines that were taught. Then when you listen to conference this weekend, you will be more prepared to recognize what topics are being repeated. That repetition, like President Eyring taught, is the Lord’s way of telling us: Pay attention! This is important. It makes it a little easier to prioritize all the messages and know where to begin.
- Knowing where to begin leads me to my next point. Go into conference looking for not just answers, but action items. Elder Holland said that “each of these conferences marks a call to action not only in our own lives but also on behalf of others around us, those who are of our own family and faith and those who are not.” So as you listen to each talk, especially ones that you feel most “connected” to, ask yourself, “What does this speaker want me to do? What does the Lord want me to do with this message?” Then you can walk away from conference, not just uplifted, but with a list of action items you know will bless your life.
- In case it’s not obvious by the other suggestions, keep paper and pencil in hand as you watch and listen. Write down anything that will help you remember what you are learning and thinking.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you are not able to give your undivided attention to every single speaker. Hello, you have a family. You don’t live in a bubble. There will be distractions. You will nod off occasionally. You will fade in and out. We are so blessed that the talks will all be online to study and listen to again within just days, plus the conference Ensign will give you the chance to revisit and really study the words more in depth. You know, just do your best and don’t let anything about conference be guilt-inducing. As Sister Beck once said (paraphrased), “Any voice that tells you that you’re not good enough is not from Heavenly Father. His voice always says, ‘You can do better, and I’ll help you.'” Yes, there are voices of warning, but Conference is meant to be uplifting and encouraging. If it’s not, chances are: you’re paying too much attention to the wrong voice. Don’t beat yourself up.
Yesterday in the comments, someone asked about preparing your husband for conference. Ha! Well, obviously we don’t have a whole lot of control, but we sure have a whole lot of influence. Last night, Matt was fretting about some family decisions that fall under his stewardship in our family. I didn’t really know how to help, but I reminded him that if he prays about it this week, I bet he’ll get some clear answers during conference. And I really believe that. Perhaps our testimony about this can help our husbands seek out conference more. And p.s., the snacks, games, family fun, and traditions are just as effective for husbands (and ourselves) as they are for our children. I think these packet/notebooks can be great for adults to use to take notes, too:
I’d love to hear any other ideas you might have about preparation for conference, for yourself or your husband, too. I’m certainly not the ultimate resource here, and I’m excited to hear some of your tried-and-true suggestions.
This is General Conference Extravaganza week on the blog. Tomorrow, I’ll publish questions for a meme that you can participate in on your own blog by sharing your post-conference insights. Thursday, I’ll announce two General Conference contests you can also participate in: one trivia, one photo. (Lesa, at Notes about Music, and I are co-hosting the meme and trivia contest. Also, all week at her blog, she’s sharing some great General Conference stuff, so go check that out too.) And Friday, I’m hoping to recruit more of you to participate in General Conference Book Club. If you missed it yesterday, we talked about getting our kids ready for conference.