General Conference this past weekend was super special to me.
I know, they’re all special. But this one sticks out.
For the past couple of years I’ve been working during General Conference, which means I’d usually catch it later, picking through the talks I wanted to read later on. But this year it was LIVE. And I was present, ready to be taught. Not only that, but I didn’t actually SEE it for the majority of the time. I simply heard it. I was driving home from Utah with General Conference tuned in on the radio. And it was just me, the open road, and the words of prophets filling my empty car.
Because of that–I didn’t see President Monson’s legs fail him. I simply heard his words. I count myself blessed for that.
Since General Conference I have seen and read countless posts, blogs, articles, and statuses revolving around our sweet prophet’s diminishing health. Since conference I’ve seen the videos, I’ve seen the photos, and I’ve felt a pit of sadness in my stomach when I think about how as his age increases and his voice becomes quieter, it ticks away the time we have left with him. I too am saddened at that. But I think that something else that is sad is the fact that there are so many articles revolving around his poor health–and so little revolving around what he actually said to us that day.
Along with that, I’ve seen so many articles, complete with click-bait titles, that bemoan the fact that our three newest apostles are white “stereotypical” church leaders with little diversity. I’ve read blogs about the dissenting votes during the sustaining portion of the meeting. I even saw another puff of talk from Ordain Women. So much smoke and mirrors.
Distractions. Blindness. Meaningless debates.
And because of that I have this longing to say out loud: President Monson, I heard what you said to us. It was much louder than what you didn’t say.
I’m not saying that I don’t care about President Monson’s health. I do. I pray for him and I cried like a baby at his wife’s funeral in 2013. I love the man–and because of that, I choose to look where he points instead of point at his shaking legs and his quivering voice and the way in which his hands aren’t as expressive as they used to be. I choose to scribble down notes as he talks and remember the way he said with conviction, “You have come from His presence to live on this earth for a season, to reflect the Savior’s love and teachings, and to bravely let your light shine for all to see.”
From the inside of my car, President Monson’s light shone strongly to me. He wasn’t weak. HIs legs didn’t shake. The spirit testified to me again of my mission here on earth. I know without a shadow of a doubt that’s what President Monson would want each of us to feel and to remember–long after he’s gone.
If we take it back hundreds and thousands of years we’ll find our prophets speaking from the most miserable of conditions. Abinadi preached within the fire, Noah screamed through the rain, Daniel spoke from a lion’s den and Joseph counseled with God within a prison. So with trembling knees and an aging body President Monson continues to uphold the fact that God’s word is important enough to preach–even amidst the fire. And in my opinion, it’s our job to follow the example of the saints of old and listen close through the noise.
President Monson was the first living prophet I’ve known. I was baptized several months after Gordon B. Hinckley died and only know him through his words and some of the talks that have been shared with me in BYU classrooms. And with a tiny bit of sadness I realize that when it’s time for my children to listen to conference it most likely won’t be President Monson they’ll be watching, but someone else. But like I have learned from President Hinckley, they’ll learn from President Monson. They’ll read the stories he tells and laugh at his eccentric ways of storytelling. They might collect “warm fuzzies” in a jar each time they do an act of service. They’ll read about his constant way of telling us how much he loves and appreciates us–and how we need to love one another. They’ll know these things because of what I’ll write down and how his talks will be transcribed. It won’t matter to them that he had diabetes or neuropathy. It won’t mean anything that he was so old that he had to be held up. The only thing that will matter is that he was the voice of God while on the earth. And he spoke until his time was up. A true soldier of Christ–unwavering, stalwart, and noble.
I’m so grateful that at all times now on this earth we have a way to hear from our Creator. How amazing is that? I’m grateful that amidst all the smoke and distractions we have voices yelling out from the fire–reminding us what matters and teaching us what to tune in to.
In my car during conference– I heard you, President Monson. Despite the shakes, despite the challenge it was for you to stand, I heard you tell me to be more like Christ every day. Loud and clear I tuned in and heard that. I could almost see you too, hand pointed toward the saints, broad shoulders poised as you declared the word of God boldly and confidently. I could see the spirit move the saints to action. I could see you smile through your stories and your testimony of the Savior.
That’s all I could see.