General conference helps bring meaning to life

By Emily Christensen

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, April 2 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Yet as I listened to the sessions, it seemed that one talk after another spoke of death and testimonies of the gospel even through the pains of grieving. I thought maybe this was intended to help me with closure after the death of my father, but the feelings I received were feelings of warning and of preparation. This confused me, because I knew I was finally entering a happy time in my life after so many hard years. The gospel had changed my life, and life was happy for the first time in years. It disturbed me to receive the promptings about preparing for grief and the instruction for maintaining a strong testimony through grief experiences.

As I prepared for my baptism, I thought it was my preparation that brought meaning to general conference; but with this most recent conference, I learned it was general conference that prepared me to find meaning in life.

Thanksgiving week of last year, my husband and I had our first miscarriage. We celebrated my father with a family trip to the temple right after Christmas, and two weeks later my mother was killed in a car accident. Five weeks later, my husband and I had our second miscarriage.

These months since our last general conference have been brutal and difficult, sometimes feeling like a direct attack and often feeling as if there is not even air to breathe.

But we were warned, and prepared, and instructed ahead of time for what we needed to know to endure these hard days.

My lesson was that the Holy Spirit not only corrects and instructs, but also comforts and strengthens. I learned that the Atonement gave me a greater capacity to endure, even when it meant forgiving the man who caused the accident that killed my mother. I experienced the promise of eternal families that gave context to my grief so that I was not swallowed up.

More than anything, I saw that obedience to promptings from general conference several years ago prepared me to receive difficult warnings in the present. It was because of obedience to promptings to that first general conference that I experienced so much healing during these years, and because of temple blessings that my family was gathered in time to learn to love well. As hard as these months of grief have been, I cannot imagine how difficult it would be without the healing of the Atonement, comfort of the Spirit, or promise of eternal families.

Emily Christensen, Ph.D., lives with her husband in Oklahoma. Her Ph.D. is in marriage and family therapy, and she is pursuing a second degree in Hebrew and Jewish studies. Her blog is www.housewifeclass.com; her email is housewifeclass@gmail.com.

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