GENERAL CONFERENCE TIME
While I was raising my family, General Conference was a special weekend. I really wanted my children to enjoy listening to the talks, and so I created special conference traditions, mostly around food and games. I was trying to create family memories of being together and listening to talks from the Church’s General Authorities. I really loved being able to share my favorite General Conference moments with my family, and listen to them share their favorite talks, temple announcements, and church news.
THEN THINGS CHANGED
Several members of my family no longer participate in the church or in General Conference. My husband has stepped away from the church and so have some of my adult daughters. We have a good relationship with each other, but they each have their own relationship with the church organization. A couple want to hear some news of the church, however others don’t want to know anything.
GENERAL CONFERNCE NOW
I have tried a whole bunch of ways for me to participate in General Conference – with varying degrees of success. I’ve listened to Conference in our living room, in my office with headphones, and on my phone. I’ve visited my active brothers or sisters’ homes and watched Conference with them. I’ve even taken myself on Conference retreats. Unfortunately for me, General Conference is just not the same as it used to be. Not only am I missing the people who used to watch it with me, but I also hear different messages than I used to.
Some talks used to really resonate with me, and others didn’t as much. I would listen and prayerfully seek inspiration about how to apply the lessons to my life. Now that my family doesn’t look like the “ideal” LDS family, I find that some talks are VERY painful to hear.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW?
I ask myself, what’s going to become of my unbelieving family members in the next life? I know that I love them all very much and it can really hurt to hear how they are portrayed at General Conference. Sometimes the messages imply that their life will never be as good on earth or for eternity as mine, because they no longer believe in the Church.
MY NEW APPROACH
Since I am a believing member and I love each member of my family, I really have to approach General Conference with A LOT of self-compassion. If I need to take a break during a talk, I do. If I need to read certain talks rather than listening to them, I do that too. I prepare for each General Conference with a believing heart, I pray for those who speak to us AND I don’t force myself to participate when it hurts.
There are additional ways I participate after General Conference, and one of these ways was for me is to join an Instagram group called Inklings. Each week a different General Conference talk is discussed online. When there is discussion around concepts that were hard to hear during General Conference, sometimes talking them over with other believers brings insight.
If you find that some parts of General Conference are hard to listen to, I encourage you to also allow yourself some self-compassion and discover how you can find joy in the gospel messages, and protect your heart at the same time.
Sometimes having someone to talk to helps.