Hope Comes From Having a Desire For Personal Improvement

This is a General Conference Odyssey post for the Sunday afternoon session of October 1975.

In closing the 1975 General Conference, Pres. Spencer W. Kimball stated some personal goals that he would go home to pursue:

“While sitting here, I have made up my mind that when I go home from this conference this night there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through with conference.”

We too have recently concluded another wonderful conference where so many thoughts and ideas have run through our heads. Maybe you think, as I do, that hope comes from having a desire for personal improvement? First of all, I am humbled to hear a prophet say he has his own work to improve, and second, I am eager to learn so that I also might overcome my weaknesses in order to be a stronger servant of the Lord’s. That is where my hope is, that I can work toward being useful to the Lord as I work through my weaknesses.

In fact, that’s why I enjoy this General Conference Odyssey so much. What our prophets said 40, 150, 2000, 3500 years ago is always going to be self-improving and worth pondering. The Plan, set by our Heavenly Father, was set in motion to make us better people in order to fulfill the purposes of our creation. We work toward obedience and Jesus Christ carries us home; it’s that simple.

Some of the highlights of the 2017 conference reminded me that I need to practice certain behavior better. Sis. Bonnie H. Cordon quoted Amy Wright, who discovered a strange paradox.

“When I thought about myself, my situation, my suffering and pain, the world became very dark and depressing. When my focus turned to others, there was light, hope, strength, courage, and joy. I know that this is possible because of the sustaining, healing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

And these thoughts, from Elder Gary B. Sabin, were very sobering.

“When we are complacent with our covenants, we are complicit with the consequences,” and “As we are faithful, we can have equal certainty that things will work out well for us in the end. … No one has sinned tomorrow.”

Those and this additional thought from Elder Yoon Hwan Choi’s father fill me up with hope and possibility.

“Do not lose your faith because of the people around you, but build a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. Don’t look around, look up!”

Hope is wanting in this world of ours, and so I hope you feel the hope in these ideas as well. Where Satan thinks he can drive us to the cliff of despair, the Lord’s road leads us to the satisfaction of personal improvement. All of us are needed to work together to build one another up and join the ranks of defenders of truth and conquerors of evil.

Hope of Israel, rise in might

With the sword of truth and right;

Sound the war-cry,

“Watch and pray!”

Vanquish ev’ry foe today. (Hymn # 259)

Back in 1975, Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. stated, “God has solutions!” Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I think the Lord would say to us, “Rise, and stand upon thy feet, and speak up for truth and goodness and decency and virtue.” Elder Howard W. Hunter explained all the history that has occurred in the Tabernacle, then stated, “Times may have changed and conditions under which we now live may be different, but the purposes and objectives of the restored gospel do not vary and truth remains constant.”

These everlasting words offer us hope with a sound declaration of triumph over the adversary even through our weaknesses.

President Kimball concluded his remarks by saying,

“Well, now brothers and sisters, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to all who are listening in, we have not been fooling. What we have said to you in these three days is truth, downright truth, and it has a definite bearing upon the salvation and exaltation of every soul that could listen and hear.

“This is the gospel of Christ. He is our Lord. This is a Christian church. We follow him. We love him. We praise him. We glorify him. And now we must go forward and follow him in every detail. The gospel has been restored. It is here for us in all its fulness. Never before has it been so full and so complete, so comprehensive, never before that we know of in the world. And here it is, available to us and available to millions of people, some of whom are listening. We hope they will not make the mistake of casting it aside or ignoring it. God bless you who have been listening.”

If you don’t feel hope from this statement that oozes with love and fortitude, then read it again and again until you catch the full spirit of it. We are loved. Heavenly Father wants us home. We can do this!

Additional General Conference Odyssey posts:

Congratulatory Criticism G

The joys of eternity, wrapped up in daily consecration Marilyn Nielson

Jan Tolman

Jan Tolman is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of seven. She is a writer, as well as speaker, on the history of the Relief Society at www.ldswomenofgod.com. Several articles, written by her on Relief Society history, have been published in the Deseret News. She has taught Institute and served as a docent at the Church History Museum. She urges everyone to learn something new about Church History, and especially about the incredible women of LDS faith.

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About Jan Tolman

Jan Tolman is a wife, mother of six, and grandmother of seven. She is a writer, as well as speaker, on the history of the Relief Society at www.ldswomenofgod.com. Several articles, written by her on Relief Society history, have been published in the Deseret News. She has taught Institute and served as a docent at the Church History Museum. She urges everyone to learn something new about Church History, and especially about the incredible women of LDS faith.

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