The problem with writing about General Conference is I can only convey my personal impressions. It is highly likely your experiences will be different. But this is so with most important things in the gospel.
Two people can hear the same talk, read the same scriptures, or sit side by side at the temple and come away with two totally different, yet totally correct, points of view.
Why is this?
Each of us come to God with vastly different needs. Some may be facing severe financial stress and need to hear words of encouragement to buttress them against their looming economic battles.
Others may be at the end of their rope when facing health problems of a loved one. They feel all their attempts to bring relief to those suffering have been an exercise in futility. Stories and messages of the Plan of Salvation and the purpose of mortality, confirming its uncertainty, may strike a chord in the hearts of those seeking to be selfless caregivers.
So, when I look at those messages that impacted me, I also try to understand why I needed to hear them. Basically, I reengineer my current challenges by evaluating those gospel concepts to which I was attracted.
At this conference, I was touched by the repeated talks on civility and kindness.
Several speakers commented on our society’s trend towards bullying, intolerance, and rudeness. My experience has taught me when church leaders repeatedly focus on a theme, it is not by accident.
They travel the world and meet with congregations both large and small. They see, more than I do, what is really going on, not just in our community, but globally. As a result, they tailor their talks to help open a dialog regarding concepts about which the entire church can benefit.
Now it is my task to look at myself and see how I am contributing to this problem. Then I need to look for the steps necessary for me to change.
Isn’t that the main purpose of conference – finding those parts of our lives that need course corrections?
So, am I civil while on social media or do I devote the bits and bytes of that vast cloud with endless complaints.
When colleagues or supervisors at work decide to go a different direction than what I think is best, do I place my ideas ahead of theirs or do I lean towards compromise.
When loved ones fail to live up to my expectations, am I quick to condemn and lecture. Or, do I take the time to evaluate me expectations to see if they may be misaligned.
Yes, these are small things to evaluate and adjust. It is not likely that my personal course corrections will create a kinder and gentle world.
But they will create a kinder and gentler me.
Isn’t that the point?