This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
I enjoyed taking a break to cover the October 2016 General Conference last week, but now we’re back on to our usually scheduled General Conference Odyssey posts, which means we’re writing about the Friday afternoon session of the April 1974 GC.
I didn’t really catch a theme in this session, and there wasn’t one talk that really grabbed me. Instead, I just want to go through a couple of lines that stuck me from several different talks.
In Three Important Questions, Elder ElRay L. Christiansen said:
True love is not earthbound. It is as eternal as our spirits, which never die.
There is no coincidence that two of Mormonism’s most unique beliefs are (1) marriage for time and all eternity and (2) the immortality of the human soul both forwards and backwards in time. There is a part of our soul that is ageless, because not only does it have no end but it also has beginning. For souls like these, nothing but eternal relationships could possibly do.
In Hanging On, Elder Loren C. Dunn told a story about a pampered tree that toppled in a storm and contrasted it with a neglected tree—that, because it was forced to drive down deep roots for water—outlasted the gale.
I see in many people this same kind of beauty. Adversity and trial have driven the roots of faith and testimony deep in order to tap the reservoir of spiritual strength that comes from such experiences. By nature they know how to stand and fight and hang on.
Elder H. Burke Peterson spoke with frankness and directness about the role of mothers in Mother, Catch the Vision of Your Call. His call for women to not work outside the home was unapologetic, but it was not unqualified. He not only indicated that single mothers had to work—and deserved our respect and help—but went farther, writing:
Fathers and mothers, before you decide you need a second income and that mother must go to work out of the home, may I plead with you: first go to the Lord in prayer and receive his divine approbation. Be sure he says yes.
This is one of those interesting verses that complicates simplistic stereotypes and reaffirm that the teachings of the Gospel are not as amenable to caricatures as some might think. What he’s saying here is a teaching that has been reiterated more plainly in more recent years: that the guidance of General Authorities in General Conference is just that: general. It is up to us to, in humility and a spirit of obedience, figure out how to apply those teachings to our individual lives. And, as a corollary, that means that we ought to get a little bit better at minding our own business when we see folks who are departing from the general course. Maybe they’re lazy, or disobedient, or apathetic. Or maybe they’re just as righteous, obedient, and passionate as we are but walking a slightly different path.
Then we have Elder William H. Bennett, in Inertia, describing some the primary reasons that people fail to live up to their potential:
some of the more important [reasons we do not reach our potential] are failure to do adequate realistic planning; lack of desire, commitment, and dedication; failure to use time effectively; and failure to correct one’s mistakes.
It’s a very practical list, and one that I think is entirely applicable to most or our lives. I also like how it fit with Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita’s call (in the most recent GC) to “be ambitious for Christ.” If you want to realize your ambitions, then you should pay attention to Elder Bennett’s cautions.
And last but not least, two more short quotes, this time from Elder Marvin J. Ashton in A Time of Urgency:
Midnight is so far and yet so close to those who have procrastinated.
God listens to humble prayer. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t ask us to pray.