Real Life Answers for the Morning After

The morning after General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lets me down every time. Real life returns.

I’m embarrassed to admit that my good intentions, great answers, and uplifted spirit recede back to the learning slot in my brain and my actions automatically head back to comfortable habits.

It’s one of those Monday morning crashes after a spiritual high. Anyone else?

Admittedly, I’m trying new tactics, especially in those chats with my teenagers about the reminders I think they need, but those flopped. I wonder why.

One of the best insights I received this conference weekend came the night before it even started. Mormon Newsroom released this video interview with top women leaders of the church. Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society president, shared how she faces a puzzling question or situation:

Form a question. Ponder it — for many months if you need to. Search out. Look in the scriptures. Sometimes we go to the Internet to get all our answers, but if we will be humble and kneel on our knees and ask our Heavenly Father, “I have a question,” and search it out and propose an answer and let Him help us, we are entitled to that.

So, I did that as I approached conference. I formed one question and wrote it down, “How do I use my time?” I listened to scriptures, words of leaders, and the Spirit. Ideas came to help me adapt to my new community and new season of life.

But another question, one I didn’t write down, haunted me throughout. “How do I love and nurture my teenagers who want to pull away and be independent?”

I heard good answers. I felt insight and understanding.  One came from Rosemary M. Wixom. She encouraged us to use a “firm voice of perfect mildness,” to encourage and speak to a child’s heart.

Her counsel sounded to my heart as if she’d been thinking on a question I asked her personally a couple of years ago and was now giving the answer.

She had sat down beside me and a couple of other women in a women’s meeting at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico where my husband was attending LDS priesthood leadership training. I struggled then with the same question about raising and talking to teenagers as I do now. I had asked her, “How do you parent teenagers?”

I don’t remember her exact words so much as her encouragement that those interactions with our kids, even as teenagers, are real and individual and they take time and patience. Her talk this weekend reinforced that experience.

But then with this desire to be a real disciple of Jesus Christ, especially in my home, Monday morning came. And it didn’t all line up in a pretty package with the best of outcomes.

Why not?

In between sessions, I read how we selectively choose what we share on the Internet and, as a result, we perceive perfection in other’s lives that is just not real, since it is only a partial truth.

Is this why I felt discouraged today?

Gospel truths are not partial truths. The uplift from General Conference comes from hearing real truth, understood by the Spirit, for our real lives.

So what’s the disconnect? Why didn’t my Monday morning after conference blossom from all the answers and insights I received?

Specific inspiration will still come to me. The day-today application of my faith refines these general answers into specific moment-by-moment insights for my own individual relationship with each person. The right answer may not come until I open my mouth. And, hopefully, if I focus on how to say it, what I say will follow in the same spirit.

Even when I try, my efforts won’t be perfect. Linda Burton reminded me that I also “get into this perfection mode.” I put a lot of pressure on myself to make immediate changes to the truths I learned. But as she said, “We think we have to be perfect all at once and all right now. And we’re a hospital here; we aren’t a hotel for perfect people in the Church, we are a hospital. We’re all flawed and we all need each other for the gifts and talents we bring.”

The final outcome is not complete. I babysat some young children last week and remembered what it meant to be a mother of young children. Although I felt sad at that the days that are gone, I happily grinned that the daily busyness leaves more time for other pursuits. But more importantly, I could see how we’ve all progressed and grown since then. I must trust that the teenage years will bring the same development in time.

So, on this Monday morning, when my moments of real-life living may not appear “conference worthy,” at least I know who I can turn to every morning, afternoon and evening for real-life answers and real-life faith to act on what comes.

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