President Thomas S. Monson sits in the audience at the Tabernacle on Temple Square on 4 October 1963, moments before he was sustained as a General Authority and invited to the stand.
Fifty years ago today President Thomas S. Monson was called as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve. What a historic fifty years of church growth it has been!
As I’ve been looking at the above picture of young Elder Monson this morning my heart has been filled with mixture of great joy and also deep sadness over this upcoming weekend’s Semiannual General Conference.
This will be the first General Conference I will have not watched live since April of 2001 when I was in high school. Each spring and autumn since my teenage years has been like a holiday to as I’ve prepared mentally, spiritually, and even temporally for the upcoming General Conference and the opportunity to listen to and sustain prophets, seers, and revelators. When people ask me what my favorite holiday is, I usually answer “General Conference” and then proceed to tell them about what an awesome event that it is.
Starting a year and a half ago I started live- tweeting during General Conference using the #LDSconf hashtag on Twitter. To some this might have seemed like a distraction. But the opportunities it has given me to listen with new ears to the talks, and to instantly feel connected to my Latter-day Saint brothers and sisters throughout the world has helped me to gain greater insight into the gospel and even create new and meaningful friendships with people throughout the world.
But this year is different.
I have recently started a brand new job, and am preparing to be married in just two short months. In the days leading up to Conference I have prayed, and begged the Lord for ways to help me get my shift covered. I have offered my coworkers cold hard cash of $100 to take my shift (a double shift actually and 12 hour day) to pick it up for me, but to no avail. Working in a 100% commission job on a college football Saturday in Alabama isn’t exactly profitable. So I understand the lack of interest in assisting me.
Every year since 2001 I’ve taken a three or four day weekend to prepare for, enjoy, and then reflect on General Conference. But this year it just won’t be so. This year, instead of hearing about the new temples to be built (my guesses are on a new temple in Utah and one in Brazil, plus probably a couple of more) I’ll be selling cell phones in Alabaster, Alabama. This Conference instead of enjoying a lunch at the chapel with full-time missionaries during the World Report I’ll be sharing phone operating system suggestions with strangers on a showroom floor. No sustainings. No airplane stories from President Uchtdorf and no ear wiggling from President Monson. Just work.
If it sounds like I’m being melodramatic it’s because I probably am.
Yeah, yeah. I get it. General Conference can be DVR’d. “Most people don’t watch it live anyways,” you might be saying to yourself. “You can just read the Ensign,” might be a logical thing to say.
But to me it’s like I’m having to work on my Christmas Day. I’m missing Christmas Eve, and the opening of my presents. I’m missing my family and my friends.
General Conference just won’t be the same.
Last night as I knelt down to pray and I felt downright depressed. If Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh’s forlorn friend) had materialized into a real life human being he was the guy kneeling beside my bed. I began my prayer in such a sad sounding humdrum manner as to make Eeyore sound cheerful even.
“I’m going to missing Conference Heavenly Father,” I stated flatly. “Maybe it won’t be this way come April,” I lamented with the inflection of a jilted 13 year old girl.
God is rather patient with me I’ve come to realize.
I complained about my work shift. My new job. Feeling depressed. And everything else I could muster a murmur about.
And as I was about to say in the most reverent way possible, “Thanks for not helping me get that shift covered,” I paused as the Spirit spoke directly to me in my mind:
“You’re going to watch it Stan. I’m providing for you and your marriage.”
And instantly all of the other prayers I’ve offered recently about helping me in my job, helping me to prepare for marriage, and so much more came flooding into my mind.
Kneeling before my bed I stopped in silence, realizing that yes, I would watch the Conference Sessions. Probably even rewatch them each two times in the coming week. God was answering my other prayers and I was just too juvenile to realize it.
I felt guilty for complaining and being so forlorn, and I instantly began begging again to God, only this time for forgiveness of my sins.
This weekend I’ll miss watching live as our church leaders speak. I’ll miss the Tweets from my friends in Africa, India, England, and Utah. I’ll miss having lunch with the full-time missionaries (and this time my fiance), and walking around the park nearby my local chapel and observing the first traces of fall in the leaves.
I’ll miss those things.
But I know that I’ll get to enjoy, listen to, relisten to, and apply the teachings of modern day prophets and apostles in the very near future, even if I hear them via DVR and the internet.
Fifty years ago today Thomas S. Monson was called as an apostle. As I’ve looked at the picture above this morning I’ve thought of what must have been racing through his mind at that very moment right before he was called forth from the congregation. Did he have any idea where life would lead him? Did he have the beginning of a glimpse into what his life’s ministry would be?
Time flies when you’re having fun. And perhaps the funnest parts of life are serving the Lord.
I’ll miss hearing the words of President Monson in the morning. But I am thankful that God has answered my prayers. Perhaps I won’t make a single red cent tomorrow in Alabaster, Alabama selling cell phones. But who knows why God arranged for me to work there tomorrow? Perhaps I’m supposed to just be there to brighten someone’s day?
In any case, I have no problem missing General Conference as long as I know it’s what has been prepared for me by the Lord. Fifty years from now I’ll be able to look back on this weekend and tell my grandchildren how extremely heartbroken I was to miss listening to men and women of God, and I hope and pray it will instill in them a desire to always listen to a prophet’s voice. Or, perhaps I’ll get to tell them about the time I met a family that got baptized because I ended up working on a General Conference weekend…
One can always hope.
In any case I hope that you have a happy Conference Weekend my friends! I look forward to hearing how all of you enjoyed it.
If you’re not Mormon and somehow stumbled upon this post about how I’m a big ol’ complainer and LDS General Conference, I’m glad you did! I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about my faith. To learn more please just click here. You’ll be glad you did.