Sometimes we all question whether we really believe in what we say we do, and whether or not we really have the faith that we profess. For me, those are momentary flashes, but important nonetheless. Each time it happens to me, I’m brought back around by something quite profound—a blessing indeed.
My husband and I traveled to Utah for the April 2015 General Conference. I have always loved driving through the desert, but we aren’t getting any younger. There are some health issues, and as I marveled at the various hues of green, brown, purple, and red in the desert, the thought occurred to me that we might have just bitten off more than we could chew with this trip. The closest hotel we could get to the Conference Center was a pretty good walk for my bad back and the metal plate and seven screws in my ankle. Traveling with my diabetic husband is always a challenge. Were we crazy?
The momentary fright of health issues cranked my brain into high gear. What are we doing this for? Is it worth it? Then the clincher: Are these men we are going to hear speak truly prophets, seers, and revelators, or are we just two crazy old people following the pied piper? Brushing away those thoughts, I continued to concentrate on the beauty of the desert I truly love.
Those questions resurfaced, however, as my back spasms became so intense while walking in downtown Salt Lake that I had to sit on benches and planters every half block in order to keep from passing out. I was only able to silence the questions by singing in my head the words to the children’s Primary song, “Pioneer Children Sang as They Walked” (Children’s Songbook, p. 214). I wanted this trip to be fun for us, and I was determined not to let negativity run amok. In my heart of hearts, I knew that Satan was behind these thoughts, and I had to regain control—which is somewhat difficult for me to do when I’m hurting.
The Saturday afternoon session of General Conference produced that profound moment that permanently silenced all questions and fears. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducted the session and called for the sustaining of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. There were loud dissenting votes, some of which were right behind me. The passion with which my body stiffened surprised me. I refused to turn around and give attention to those who dissented, knowing that was exactly what they wanted—attention. As President Uchtdorf calmly acknowledged the vote and encouraged those who opposed to contact their stake president, I was filled with warmth, and the Spirit testified to me that these men were truly prophets, seers, and revelators. All questions, negativity, and doubt were gone.
Then the congregation sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, No. 19). I have heard this hymn and sung this hymn thousands of times before, including in the Conference Center. Never have I heard it sung the way I did that day. Never have I felt such intensity and fervor from any hymn as I did at that moment. It was almost worth hearing the opposing votes to have such a strong spirit in that beautiful venue. We all basked in the Spirit that afternoon. Each speaker seemed to testify directly to my heart of the truthfulness of the gospel.
I don’t know why a few people felt the need to come to the Conference Center and express loud disapproval of our leaders. Certainly, they could have opposed with a quiet raise of the arm and then made an appointment with local leaders. Obviously, they were seeking attention for some reason unknown to me. There is a process for those who don’t feel they can sustain our leaders. I don’t fault those who have doubts, or those who feel they have been wronged in some manner. There is a difference, however, between an opposing vote and a cry for attention. As a mother, I was never very patient with children seeking the wrong kind of attention; and I’m much less patient with adults.
I will say this, though. If I can feel the Spirit as strong singing that hymn as I did during that session of General Conference after the dissenting votes, bring it on. We continued to feel the Spirit the entire trip. My back continued to spasm as I walked in Salt Lake that weekend, but it was much easier to tolerate. I knew that we were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. We were blessed to find appropriate food at appropriate times for my diabetic husband. We were blessed to find someplace for me to sit each time I didn’t think I could walk one more step. More importantly, those troublesome questions that Satan had put into my head were squelched. I know who those 15 men are and to whom they answer. I sustain President Monson, the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.