Tuesday, August 8, 2017

To be home again

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday Afternoon Session of the October 1976 Conference.
I love President Hinckley. I just love him! His talk in this session was characteristically straightforward, compassionate, and optimistic. I kept getting tears in my eyes as I read it, for no real reason except that I kept feeling, "This is true! This is so true!" In the talk, he speaks lovingly to those who have left the church, but I felt like there was so much hope for anyone in his words—hope that when we feel a little distant, like we've drifted or wavered a bit or just have lost a little of our spiritual energy—we can always come back to where we belong.

President Hinckley says:
And so I repeat, do not let pride stand in your way. The way of the gospel is a simple way. Some of the requirements may appear to you as elementary and unnecessary. Do not spurn them. Humble yourselves and walk in obedience. I promise that the results that follow will be marvelous to behold and satisfying to experience.
My mother-in-law and I were talking about this yesterday. The teacher asked in her church class, "Have any of you experienced miracles by doing the simple things like praying and reading your scriptures?" My mother-in-law thought, "No, not really." Then she considered further. She has prayed and read her scriptures nearly every day since high school. Who knows which, of all her many blessings in that time, can be attributed to those good habits? As we were talking, I felt confirmation of this in my heart: that many good things, "marvelous and satisfying" things, in my life have come (without my realizing it) from my attention to these small requirements.

Then President Hinckley invites us:
Try it. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose. Come back, my friends. There is more of peace to be found in the Church than you have known in a long while. There are many whose friendship you will come to enjoy. There is reading to be done, instruction to be received, discussions in which to participate that will stretch your minds and feed your spirits. 
The quiet longings of your heart will be fulfilled. The emptiness you have known for so long will be replaced with a fulness of joy.
Again, I felt the truth of this confirmed as I read it. It's so easy to take "going to church" for granted. It doesn't seem to give spectacular results every week. But as President Hinckley reminds us, there is so much it provides, quietly! Friendship. Things to read, things to learn, interesting discussions. Yes! It gives all of this to me. Of course there are bigger things as well from time to time, miraculous things—but I can't discount the value of the small ones. There would be so much emptiness without them! When I think of how much goodness they bring into my life, I wonder why I ever let myself get casual about those things!

President Hinckley told the story of a friend from his mission. This man had drifted away from the church over the years, and when he ran into President Hinckley he opened up to him about how much he missed the gospel in his life:
There were tears in the eyes of this strong man as he spoke of the Church of which he had once been so effective a part, and then told of the long, empty years that had followed. He dwelt upon them as a man speaks of nightmares. When he had described those wasted years, we talked of his returning. He thought it would be difficult, that it would be embarrassing, but he agreed to try. 
I had a letter from him not long ago. He said, “I’m back. I’m back, and how wonderful it feels to be home again.”
Although I haven't left the church (and I hope I never will), I can relate to this wonderful feeling of coming "home again." The goodness of the gospel really is "home" to me. Every time I recommit to my calling, or try harder to pray sincerely, or refocus on being grateful, or increase my efforts to love and serve others, or determine to better keep my covenants—I feel it. The distance closes and my strength is renewed and I think, "THIS is how things should be. I want to feel like this always!"

I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father allows us to do this again and again, as often we're willing. It's one of the best feelings we can have, and I can only imagine how much greater it will be if we stay faithful and eventually we get to say it to Heavenly Father and Jesus for real. "I'm back. I'm back, and how wonderful it feels to be home again!"

Other posts in this series:

2 comments:

  1. Yes!!! Makes me teary too! That we can always come home. All this homesickness and wanting. But we aren't just without. The gospel is our comfort and home away from home while here!

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  2. >>The goodness of the gospel really is "home" to me. Every time I recommit to my calling, or try harder to pray sincerely, or refocus on being grateful, or increase my efforts to love and serve others, or determine to better keep my covenants—I feel it.<<

    Amen! I feel the same way.

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