I think it’s fair to say that most people came to the October 2014 General Conference with questions to be answered and with things they wanted to know about. About a week before the General Women’s meeting, my friend and fellow MWS admin, Angela Fallentine, issued a challenge on our Facebook page to bring one question to the Women’s Meeting. Here is the truth … I didn’t take the challenge, because life ate me up that week and I totally forgot, until an hour before. I didn’t feel like I could even ask a question at that point, because I’d be the kid begging for an extension on their homework. But in that meeting Heavenly Father took a bit of pity on me, and gave me my question to ask this week in General Conference.
When I was asked to write about President Henry B. Eyring’s talk, I wondered if his talk would be the answer to my question. It wasn’t the whole answer, but he did talk about receiving personal revelation and why that is important. So I felt in a way that it was a piece of the answer to my question. Personal revelation is our direct connection to our Heavenly Father and it’s what sets The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart as the true church. President Eyring said, “Human judgment and logical thinking are not enough to get answers to the questions that matter most.” Yes! A million times yes to that statement! Let’s face it, I am fully confident it my ability to get it wrong most of the time. But this statement reminds me of the scripture in Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” We cannot live life on our own. But we don’t have to blindly follow either, or be as some people accuse us of being, “sheeple.” Latter-day Saints are anything but “sheeple.” Trusting the Lord and leaning on Him for our answers via the Holy Ghost are what makes us different. We can and should have questions, because we can and will receive answers to those questions!
President Eyring shared the story of Nephi and his brothers going back to Jerusalem to get the Brass Plates. This is a story I have grown up hearing, and is one of my kids’ favorites. I was taught a new element of the story this time, however. Nephi declared in 1 Nephi 3: 7, “I will go and do the things the Lord hath commanded…” we know that verse by heart. But it is the next verse, verse 8, that is important here, and which no one ever remembers, “And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.” Nephi had been given his own revelation about what he was commanded to do. President Eyring called this “Confirming Revelation”, and this was why Lehi was “exceedingly glad.”
As a parent, I wonder if the things I am teaching my kids are sinking in. They are still really young, so most days I feel like the answer to that question is a big fat NO! But then the Lord gives me these breadcrumbs of hope, and my kids will repeat back to me something we’ve taught them, or I will hear my older son trying to “teach” his younger brother something that we have taught him. Those are the moments that I am most thankful to be a parent, and I hope those feelings are similar to those that Heavenly Father has about us when we do something right.
The heart of President Eyring’s talk, for me, was this statement, “The revelation of a parent has its lasting effects in the personal revelation that continues in the child.” It made me really pause and think about, and ask myself, “So, what do I want for my children?” Thankfully, I could give myself an answer. About 3 years ago, I felt very prompted, even pressed a bit, to start a paper journal for my children. It’s not a day-to-day journal, or a blog, but more like “The Small Plates of Nephi” for our family. I don’t write in this journal very often, mostly when I have experiences that I want my kids to know about when they are older, and more of our family miracles and my impressions about the Gospel and life. I recently re-read my “mother’s journal” and was surprised at the theme that was very pleasantly present in it. Over and over the subjects of my entries centered around choosing the right, choosing to follow the commandments, happiness coming from choosing to follow the Lord, and following the prophet for maximum happiness. I never realized that those things were so important to me before. I say those things to my kids; I pray those things for my kids, but to see them written out was, and is, very powerful to me. I guess my hope is too, that one day when I am long gone, my children or a grandchild will find this journal and read it and say to himself, “Wow, she really had a testimony of being obedient and the joy of the gospel”, and then go and ask the Lord for a personal witness of my testimony and commitment to these principles for themselves.
President Eyring shared a story about growing up and how his mother used to talk to him late into the night sometimes. He said that he knew now how important those talks were for his mother, but also for him. He said, “Prayers of parents for their children can be just as powerful [as a patriarchal blessing]. Pray that our children understand the things we pray for them and teach them.” This has given me a renewed sense of urgency about what I am saying in my personal prayers, but also the things I say in the prayers my children hear me say. What do I really want for my kids? The application of confirming revelation is one that is not necessarily easy. President Eyring taught, “The personal revelation of acceptance for which we all long does not come easily nor does it come simply for the asking.”
I am reminded of the time when I was in grad school getting my teaching certificate. One of the things our teachers there pounded into us was lessons about learning styles. Everyone is different, so naturally everyone learns differently. Some people are visual learners, while some people are auditory learners, and so on. We were encouraged to vary how we taught our lessons so that there would be variety and interest for our students. For me that was always hard. I have always been fine to sit and listen, because if I hear it and write it down, chances are I will not forget it — isn’t’ everyone like that? So, when my husband and I were youth Sunday School teachers, we took that grad school lesson and applied it to our Sunday School classes. The first lesson I would always give at the start of the year was how to recognize and know how the Holy Ghost teaches you personally. We’d challenge the kids to figure that out, and then ask the Lord to help them learn the gospel that way, so they could trust the answers to their prayers and know for themselves that the gospel was true. Even now as a 40-something-year-old woman, I am still learning how the Lord speaks to me and learning to trust His answers fully. Some days I get it right; some days I don’t. But I know that I can ask the Lord for help, and I can ask for “confirming revelation” of the teachings of the prophets, the council of my husband, and the answers to my prayers.
Revelation is so vitally important to us as Latter-day Saints. Our church was founded on it, and continues to operate on this principle. But, mostly, I am thankful and glad that I can receive personal revelation for myself and continuing revelation about the things I am taught. I want to, as well, take more efforts to teach my children that they too can receive answers to their prayers and confirming revelation about the things my husband and I teach them.