Confessions of an Apathetic Conference Viewer

If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or are closely associated with someone who is, you are probably aware of General Conference.

General Conference is a biannual gathering of members of the LDS faith to listen to talks and teachings of the Lord’s called and appointed prophets, apostles, and other leaders of the church. It is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and transmitted all over the world in many languages. It is part of the basic belief of the church that God lives and that He continues to communicate with us and provide revelation for us in these latter-days. Just last weekend was the fall conference.
There’s no doubt that General Conference is a grand blessing, a literal opening of the heavens and pouring out of celestial knowledge. It is specified guidance for us and direction in our troubled times. I have even heard it referred to as a Spiritual Superbowl.

But honestly, I am just not enthused.

I think we can all relate to this lack of enthusiasm in some way. When I am struggling with work, school or personal matters I tend to turn inward. I get kind of “hermit-y.” I lose motivation, inspiration and stimulation. Quite frankly, the idea of listening to 10 hours of prayers, and hymns and inspirational stories just makes me want to do about anything else.

Let me clarify; despite an occasional apathetic attitude, I do know that General Conference is a blessing. I know deep in my heart that God the Father and Christ the Son live and they have restored the true church to this earth. I know that they love us without condition and want nothing more than to see us happy here on earth and in the eternities. For this reason, they have called prophets, apostles and teachers and have set them apart to receive revelation and direction for our times and challenges. I know that the men and women who speak at conference are inspired to share the messages that they share and that each individual can receive personal revelation as they listen and learn. I am grateful for this practice and I have seen it bless my life and it surely will again. My testimony is sure. I do not doubt the goodness or the purpose of General Conference. I love it, actually, and when I feel that my spirit is strong, sure and confident it is rejuvenating and invigorating.

But when I am struggling, it can be exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes I just don’t want to participate. I just need time and distance, maybe. I need to receive some revelation and some blessings in a different way or at a different time, I suppose.

However, to completely neglect conference and ignore all opportunity to learn and possibly heal would be unproductive and ungrateful. So my personal solution, and my suggestion to those who relate, is to watch conference.

Not all of it and not all at one time, but to watch it little by little. Here you can watch one talk at a time. Take it in small doses. This allows you to participate, albeit at a slower pace, but also on a more personal level.

While taking smaller doses it is helpful to look for topics specific to what I am dealing with in my life. Though something good can be understood from every talk, that good thing may not be particularly applicable to my current situation.

Another way to take slow doses of General Conference is by reading it. As Melodee said about the conference in April, 
“Live General Conference gives me anxiety. It’s the least effective way for me to gain the benefits, and it actually stresses me out a bit. I try, year after year to like it, but I’ve learned to cut myself some slack, do the best I can, and go back after the fact and study the messages, one-by-one…” 
A month or so after conference all of the talks are printed in the church magazine The Ensign. Overall, it is much easier for me to maintain motivation and attention while reading a few pages than listening to videos or recordings. Reading the talks seems so much more personal. You can take it slow, ponder each part, take notes and really have time to think and relate what is said to yourself. It’s easy to take a break when you start to feel overwhelmed or uninspired and you can go back, again and again, to those talks and articles that truly speak to you.

It is important to recognize that the purpose of conference is to guide and edify us. This can be done in a myriad of ways. Heavenly Father loves us and knows us individually. So we aren’t expected to all learn and love in the same way. If you feel the Savior’s love and can understand better the direction you need to take from one individual talk or highlights and notations, so be it.

The most essential factor of conference is faith. Whether or not you are enthused and inspired or barely holding on, keep the faith. Maintain perspective. At times I am completely uninspired, weak and even apathetic. When conference rolls around I don’t want to watch it and sometimes when Sundays roll around I don’t want to get out of bed for church.

Sometimes, I am not strong.

But that never means that I have lost my testimony. No matter my current state of emotion, I know that Christ lives. I know that He speaks to us. I know that is it His nature to love and to help us. Occasionally it can be difficult to apply those understandings in a personal way and every now and then I may disagree with something that is said and I may not sing along with the hymns. But that doesn’t mean I have lost everything or that I can’t still be obedient and enjoy conference. President Uchtdorf counseled in the October 2013 conference, “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.”

So when I feel guilty for my lack of enthusiasm for conference this year, I remind myself that I just need to hold on tight to what I am sure of and I will be able to work slowly back to confidence. I may not ever be truly enthused to watch 10 hours worth of talks, but I do know that I will be able to take it in bigger doses and appreciate it all the more.

Koby Dudley is the loudest and proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2017. After double majoring in Spanish and Communication for her Bachelor’s degrees, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and a career in the field of Bilingual Speech Language Pathology. Koby loves surprises and tries to focus on the little things in life. Her personal motto is "preparation brings blessings."

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