The October 2022 Semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be held on October first and second in Salt Lake City, Utah. Thinking about how to prepare for this conference, my mind keeps coming back to the invitation that the prophet President Russell M. Nelson gave at the April 2022 Annual General Conference. I think in preparing for the conference we can look back at the previous six months and reflect on how our lives have changed because of the messages that influenced us.
Here are the five parts of President Nelson’s invitation:
- Get on the covenant path and stay there
- Discover the joy of daily repentance
- Learn about God and how He works
- Seek and expect miracles
- End conflict in your personal life
The Covenant Path
The first part of the invitation is to get on the covenant path and stay there. Each of us can look at our lives and determine where we stand with regard to the covenant path. As I look back on the past six months, I can see the changes I’ve made to get more firmly on the covenant path and stay there. My changes are unique to me as your changes will be unique to you. Here is a brief list of things I’ve changed to stay on the covenant path:
- Increased my prayers – I made a change to how I pray and how often I pray. The first step was to set specific times of day to pray. This allowed me to “schedule” time with the Lord. After a couple of weeks, I fell into a rhythm and no longer needed a specific time to pray. The second step was to kneel in prayer. I know it sounds like a little thing, but it was the little thing I needed.
- Daily scripture study – Another change I made was to take between 10 and 20 minutes a day to study the scriptures. To do this, I use the Come Follow Me lesson for the week and divide up the scripture reading into daily chunks. This led to a “Come Follow Me Impacts” document where I write down any scripture that strikes me as I read. I have posted some of them during the week in our kitchen to share with my family.
- Fasting – I’ve stated before that fasting is one of the hardest things to do in my life. I’ve never been really “good” at fasting. I decided it was time to try. Our once-a-month Fast Sunday has now become something I look forward to.
I love how President Nelson calls Daily Repentance a joy. “Start today to experience the joy of putting off the natural man.” I have found that in my nightly prayer I can see the weaknesses of the day and commit myself to be better tomorrow. I have felt the relief of not having to worry about those weaknesses affecting my stress level the next day as I receive forgiveness.
Daily repentance has also helped me to keep on the covenant path. When we don’t allow our weaknesses and sins to pile up, it becomes easier to focus on Christ. This in turn strengthens our footing on the covenant path.
Learn About God and How He Works
Recently, there have been a lot of discussions from our leaders about identity. The basics of our identity are that we are children of God who is our Heavenly Father. He created our spirits and sent them to earth to obtain a physical body as part of our eternal progression. What more do we need to know about Him and how He works?
In the past six months, our ward had a counselor of the Bishopric move out. This prompted a change, not only in our ward but in our stake as well. The process of calling a new counselor shows one way in which God works. The Bishop ponders and prays on who the new counselor should be and when he receives confirmation from the Holy Ghost, proposes that name to the Stake President. The Stake President, along with his counselors, ponder and pray about the person submitted and when they receive confirmation extend the calling to the individual. Members of the ward also have a part in this process. Once the name has been approved by the Stake President, the person is called and the name is presented to the ward congregation for a sustaining vote. When the name was presented, I received confirmation from the Holy Ghost that this person was called by God to be the new counselor. I voted in the affirmative to support and sustain the new counselor in his duties.
Seek and Expect Miracles
The prophet invited us to not only seek but expect miracles. A miracle is “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs” (Merriam-Webster’s first definition). I’ve always believed that we should seek miracles in our lives. In fact, I have seen many miracles where divine intervention was present in my and others’ lives.
The last six months have given me an opportunity to seek and expect miracles. My extended family has had situations where I was led to pray for a miracle and see it come to pass. However, I did not expect that miracle. Expecting miracles is difficult and maybe that’s because I see expecting a miracle as commanding God. I believe the prophet meant that we are to have the faith that the miracle we seek will occur and to do everything we can to help that miracle come to pass. That was my mindset as I sought a miracle for my family member. Since I live so far away, there wasn’t anything I could really do physically to help, but every prayer I had included her and pleaded that everything would work out. We have seen the beginning of the miracle in her life and I am seeking and expecting the miracle to continue to complete fruition.
End Conflict In Your Personal Life
In my life, there aren’t any major conflicts, so how do I end conflict when I don’t seem to have anything “major”? During the past six months, I have learned to recognize where conflict has entered my life. Have I been successful in ending it? Not entirely, but I have learned how to reduce it.
My first example comes from what happened in November 2020. After 20 years working at Wells Fargo, my job was eliminated. I took this elimination personally, and I put a lot of blame on the person who made the decision to terminate my employment. I have realized that I still harbor resentment towards this person. I also resent the posts I see from former colleagues that celebrate milestones at Wells Fargo. I realize that this resentment is causing conflict in my life. Things happen and I need to be better at understanding that there are things that are out of my control. I also need to be better at working through my feelings and removing the negativity I feel because of this event. I can honestly say I’m doing better with my resentment, but I haven’t ended this particular conflict in my life.
The second example involves one of my teenage daughters. If you have been or are the parent of a teenager, you know that there are times when conflict occurs. It’s a natural part of life as they begin to assert more and more independence in their transition to adulthood.
This daughter recently received her first smartphone and the excitement was palpable. However, we have rules about creating accounts and using applications. Now, she is our youngest and sees how we have allowed our older children access to social media apps. One day she asked me to allow her to install some applications for school. Trusting her, I gave access to the application store and forgot about it for a few days. When I came to her about changing the restriction back, I found certain applications that we hadn’t given her permission to use. Normally I would have gotten upset and just removed the applications. This would have caused a conflict between us and probably driven a wedge in our relationship. She knew that this was our normal response and pleaded for me to leave them on. She even explained how she was using them and why. She also apologized for setting up accounts without our permission. Now, Cheryl and I make decisions together, and leaving the apps on her phone without Cheryl knowing would be a violation of our agreement to parent together. My daughter did not want me to tell Cheryl.
What to do? I decided to not remove the apps. However, I informed my daughter that she would have to present to Cheryl and me the reasons for having those applications, how she was going to use them, and how she would be safe. Five days went by and I started to feel as though she wouldn’t make her proposal. I told her that if she didn’t propose to us and present those things I asked that I would remove the apps from her phone. Needless to say, she presented to Cheryl and me. To her surprise, we agreed with her reasons and have let her keep those apps on her phone. We have however put a time limit on those applications to ensure she doesn’t spend all her time on them as they can be addicting.
Preparing for Conference
As I look back on the five invitations made by the prophet and how I’ve worked towards accepting them and incorporating them into my life, I feel better prepared to receive inspiration at October’s sessions. I feel more confident on the covenant path. My weaknesses are lifted with daily repentance. I feel more aware of God and how He works in my life, especially with regard to seeking and expecting miracles. Finally, the burden of conflict. is lifting and can be replaced by inspiration and revelation from the Holy Ghost.
With all that in mind, I am ready to ponder the questions I want to be answered at General Conference. I can look forward to the next six months and prepare for the invitations that inevitably will come. This does not mean I won’t continue to work on the previous invitations. There is always room for more improvement in these areas. But I’m excited to see what challenges and invitations will touch my soul as the messages are delivered.
I believe that reviewing how we responded to the prophet’s invitations from the previous conference can help us to prepare for the next one. As we see the progress made from accepting and working on that which we have been asked to do, we will be more open to the next set of challenges presented. The progress we made will also allow us to progress and be ready to accept more of God’s will in our lives. This will lead us along the covenant path and help us to receive “all that [the] Father hath” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38).