Cover image via Church Newsroom.
Writer Edmund Wilson once said, “No two persons ever read the same book.” We could expand that idea to almost anything. No two people view a natural wonder, a piece of art, a meal, or even a conversation the same way.
This is why we so often turn to our companions and ask, “Wait—you didn’t like that movie?” or “How does this jacket look?” or “Am I overreacting to this?” We know that we all come at life’s experiences from a completely different history and set of opinions.
Watching General Conference is no different. Certain talks simply penetrate our hearts and we find ourselves inspired as the Spirit witnesses to us that what we’re hearing is true. Often it’s because this is a teaching moment—this is the exact message we’ve needed.
We can experience this while reading the Book of Mormon, as well. As many times as we read it, we are continually amazed that a different scripture—one we glossed over before—now virtually jumps off the page. Perhaps it’s because we’re going through different challenges each time we read. A lesson about patience, sacrifice, or forgiveness might not have applied before, but it’s precisely what we need now.
Often, as we mature, truths blossom. We’re able to learn things we couldn’t have grasped earlier. It’s this way in the temple as well. Eternal mysteries line up and make sense. We see Christ more distinctly in all the symbolism. We understand our purpose better. We feel a stronger connection to our loved ones, and to the hereafter. We feel a welling up of love for our fellowman. We feel a sincere willingness to do whatever the Lord asks.
All of it brings us closer to our Savior. For years, a woman struggled to really know Jesus Christ. She knew about him, but she wanted to know him. Only after studying General Conference talks did she finally forsake pride, resentments, and other faults that were blocking her channel of communication with Him. She found she really could lean on the Lord during trials. She sensed closeness at tender moments of meditation. It was a process, but one greatly helped by the inspired words of our leaders.
Elder Paul H. Watkins of the Seventy was my Institute Teacher for several years. This was back when there were classes for adults, not only for college students. And, after each General Conference, he would ask the class what themes stood out for us. For some, the common message was family sealings, while others noticed several talks on obedience, prayer, repentance, and so on.
It was a good reminder that many of the messages are geared toward us as individuals, and others are for the church—and the world—at large. It always amazes me how timely some of the messages are, how obviously God has inspired His servants. Perhaps you have watched as tears streamed down your cheeks—I know I have—because a particular talk was the answer to a heartfelt prayer. Or the Holy Ghost affirmed your testimony, and you received a personal witness that President Russell M. Nelson is a Prophet.
This time, a friend of mine who just lost her mom to Covid-19, stayed in tears after hearing the messages about Christ helping us with our sorrows. But they were tears of gratitude for exactly what she needed to hear.
Even the music can teach us. As we bathe in the glorious Tabernacle Choir voices, as we ponder the words they’re singing, we can experience insights and feel motivated to change for the better. This time, hearing music sung by people all over the world brought me to grateful tears that our global church unites us all.
Each of us might pick a different theme, a particular topic that jumped out this last weekend. There was much about the covenant path, home spiritual instruction, helping the youth, inclusion, service, and of course the glorious resurrection that we celebrated on Sunday.
But woven throughout this General Conference, shining brightly over all of it, was Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Redeemer of the World, the Prince of Peace. The importance of making Him the center of our lives seemed to ring in every talk. His immense love, His willingness to forgive, His absolute concern for us, His ability to guide and rescue us—it was a feast of celebration for all that Jesus Christ is. How to enact His atonement, how to show how much we love Him, no one could have missed this singular, Celestial message. Just glancing over my notes, the name “Jesus” jumps out again and again. You may have felt this as well, with other particular messages that apply to your life at this moment.
And once more I cannot wait to study these words for the next six months, eager to tune in again in October. What a testament to the living Prophet and Apostles who guide us. We are blessed beyond our wildest imaginations. Let’s order extra copies of the Liahona to share, let’s invite our neighbors to watch with us, and let’s truly drink from Living Waters.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.