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This is the 154th post in the General Conference Odyssey. This week we are covering the Sunday afternoon session of the October 1981 General Conference.

I’ve read the Book of Mormon many times, but sometimes I hear a verse or a quotation from it in a talk and it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time. That’s how I felt when Elder Marion D. Hanks quoted from Alma in his talk, “My Specialty is Mercy.” The section he quoted was very short, just “Mercy claimeth all which is her own,” but I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

It goes back to one of the verses that’s stayed with me ever since the first few times I read the Book of Mormon as a young teenager. I latched on to the words Moroni spoke near the very end of the book when he said that “with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.” I recognized then and there that my best shot at getting home again was to be as gentle and forgiving with others as I hope the Lord to be with me.

Obviously I don’t expect a free pass, but my sincere hope is that by seeking mercy through my life I can one day be recognized by her and claimed as one of her own. Since I’m pretty keenly aware of all my faults—and of how painfully, agonizingly slowly I progress in mitigating them—mercy is and always has been my Plan A.

Elder Hanks shared the story of a man who was not a very good father or husband, but who repented and changed his life. Here’s how Elder Hanks described this man’s conclusion to his own story:

[There] came a ringing declaration of faith, without self-consciousness, without bluster, without guile. “I am like the Lord in one thing,” he said; “my specialty is mercy.”

According to Elder Hanks, the specialty of the Father is mercy, the specialty of the Son is mercy, and we should all strive “to be worthy to carry the same banner.” Then he closed with a final quote from Hebrews 4:16:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Check out the other posts from the General Conference Odyssey this week and join our Facebook group to follow along!