I love listening to and reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talks. I had the opportunity to take a class at Brigham Young University from one of his sons, Matthew Holland. Like father, like son. Professor Holland has a teaching style very similar to his father’s style, and is just as well spoken and blunt as his father is. Perhaps that is the thing I like the most about Elder Holland – he is well spoken, and yet very, very blunt. My husband and I say that he doesn’t mince words.
Elder Holland testified of what I have always loved about General Conference (and the gospel teaching method in general) – the Spirit teaches us. “If we teach by the Spirit, and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.” I have always felt that this is true – especially when talking to other people about General Conference. We both listened to the exact same talks, but we each took away different messages – messages that were specifically relevant in our separate lives.
I have always loved the quote from President Harold B. Lee who said that the gospel is “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable].” I have felt both comforted and afflicted during each General Conference – and often within the same talk! Elder Holland gives us a little guidance on this, “So if you are trying to do the best you can – if, for example, you keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a houseful of little bedlamites – then give yourself high marks and, when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking.” Since there are more topics where I am lacking than where I can give myself high marks, I find myself more afflicted than comforted during General Conference – but I don’t mind the afflicting. I know that it is simply for me to grow and learn, and I welcome opportunities to learn and grow.
I feel as if I am ascending the path of discipleship that Elder Holland speaks of - “Obviously as the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets ever more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle … ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ What was gentle in the lowlands of initial loyalty becomes deeply strenuous and very demanding at the summit of true discipleship.” I am deeply grateful for the guidance and counsel of latter-day prophets to help us as we climb the path of discipleship. The path is narrow, and steep – and as we listen to the prophets’ counsel we can receive strength to reach the pinnacle and indeed become perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect.
Have you felt comforted and afflicted during General Conference? Have you felt that “personal epistle” Elder Holland talks about?