Monday, November 7, 2011

Counsel to Youth

(find the talk here)

Last night my husband and I watched the CES Devotional that President Boyd K. Packer gave. At the beginning of his talk, almost as an aside, President Packer mentioned how when he was first called as an apostle, when they would walk back to the Church office building from their weekly temple meeting, President Packer would hang back and walk with Elder LeGrand Richards. The other members of the Twelve would say to President Packer, “It’s so nice of you to stay back and help Brother Richards.” President Packer said they didn’t know why he did it. He then talked about how Elder Richards could still remember President Wilford Woodruff (the fourth president of the Church) – he had last heard President Woodruff speak when he was twelve years old. President Packer walked with Elder Richards so that he could learn from him. When my husband and I were looking for houses, I told him that I would rather live in an older neighborhood with established families, rather than the young military community near us. I told him the reason was that I would rather live around families who had already successfully raised children (and grandchildren in some cases) rather than families in the same situation as us – young, freshly married, small children – because I didn’t want to be around people making the same parenting mistakes I was going to be making. I wanted to be around people who could show me how to be a better parent.

I think in general as a society we don’t value the wisdom and experience of those who are older than us. We think that we can just learn it all, from books, TV, the internet, college. Last night my husband and I were talking about how it must have been when we were in Heaven talking with Heavenly Father about how this life was going to be. I’m sure He showed us what was going to happen, and we saw spirits with bodies and thought, “That is awesome! I want to do that!” but of course, we had never actually done that, so we didn’t know exactly what it was going to be like (which is part of why we are here). We can’t fully understand something we have never experienced. You can’t really know what it is like to loose a child unless you have lost one. You can’t really know what it is like to commune with God unless you have communed with Him. You can’t really know how to raise children until you have actually raised children.

President Packer read this poem as part of his talk at General Conference:

The old crow is getting slow.
The young crow is not.
Of what the young crow does not know
The old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things the old crow
Is still the young crow’s master.
What does the slow old crow not know?
—How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,
And rings around the slow old crow.
What does the fast young crow not know?
—Where to go.

That’s why it is so important to surround yourself with people who have experienced more than you have. Because they can help you learn the way to fly – even though you may be able to fly faster than them, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know where to fly.

(Image credit: expertinfantry)

One thing that specifically stood out to me from President Packer’s talk was when he said, “you young people are being raised in enemy territory.” I heard this as, “You parents are raising your children in enemy territory.” That sounds pretty frightening, to say the least. But I know that if I listen to the prophets, and to Heavenly Father, I will be able to successfully raise my children in this world.

I really appreciated President Packer sharing with the youth (and all of us) how he gained his testimony, and how at first he relied on the testimony of his seminary teachers. I also thought it was interesting that President Packer had not received a Patriarchal Blessing before he had enlisted in the Air Force (he had to have been at least 18 years old at that point). That made me wonder a little what his upbringing was like – it was probably just normal like any other child, rather than particularly extraordinary. But thought correct use of his agency, look where he is now! Look at how valuable he has been to furthering God’s work. I am grateful that he was willing to share such personal tidbits about his youth with our youth. I will have to remember to share this talk with my children when they are a little older.

President Packer also talked a bit about agency and the importance of and proper use of our bodies. I have been studying Elder David A Bednar’s CES Devotional talk titled Things as they Really Are in which he talks about our bodies. It has really been an enlightening experience for me, and I feel like I am coming to understand the importance of our physical bodies a little better.

What stood out to you from President Packer’s talk? How do you learn from those who are older and more experienced than you? Do you look for opportunities to learn from them as President Packer did?

Find more insight on this talk over at
Diapers and Divinity’s General Conference Book Club

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