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Day 9: Conference

Saturdays are hit-and-miss. I work 11-4:30, so the store is either CRAZY or not so much. Yesterday was a ‘not so much.’ I still brought home over $40. I also learned how to cut pizzas and get them into boxes.

This weekend is a special one because it marks the 184th semiannual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Conference is always a joy, and a pain. A joy because of the love, comfort and messages given. I feel like God speaks to me every time. The pain comes from the correction.

Roe intensity, ‘Gazelle Intensity’, is all about hard personal sacrifice of time and energy. There is also a measure of sacrifice for others in a family. In our case, we have three daughters. I have a wonderful wife, their mother. That makes four people that sacrifice just as much as I do. Conference helps make sure that sacrifice is going on the right altar. It also helps make sure important spiritual constants remain that way.

“But RI,” you might say,”you said so yourself. Getting out of debt is spiritual, not just physical.”

That’s true, but it can cause harm if not kept in line with important habits. Who is accountable for the health and wellbeing for our family? My wife and I. Is getting out of debt important? Yes, but should be done without missing personal and family prayer and scripture study.

“The home is the first and most effective place for children to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control; the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life. Nothing can take the place of home in rearing and teaching children, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home” (Family Home Evening Manual [1968], iii).

I love that quote by the late President David O. McKay, President of the Church from 1951 until his death in 1970.

Saturday ended with the General Priesthood session of conference. One talk hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the talk of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I felt like he was speaking straight to me.

I can’t quote it. No text. You’ll have to trust me. It was poignant. It spoke of one of my worst weakness: being “painfully unaware of [my] own incompetence.” Yep. Unaware, but worse, convinced of the opposite. That’s me. My middle name is “unaware, yet convinced of the opposite.”

I may think I’m a great husband, pizza hut delivery driver, Sr. Support Engineer, Sunday School Teacher, home teacher and member of the Elder’s Quorum. Am I?

President Uchtdorf cited the example of Jesus and his disciples the night before his crucifixion.

“One of you will betray me this night,” he had said.

To paraphrase President Uchtdorf, many of us might have said, “Is it Brother Jones? He’s always been a bit off,” or, “It’s got to be so-and-so. They’ve got a substance problem that they are trying to hide.” It’s easy for us to say certain counsel is for certain people.

The disciples were not that way. They responded with the question, “Lord, is it I?”

I think I’m a great worker. Am I? How great? Why great? What truths back up that fact? What do I need to work on?

I think I can be a better father. Am I a poor father? Why? What truths back up either possibility? What should I get better at?

The same goes for every other hat I wear.

Man, that’s heavy. Isn’t that heavy? That brings me to my next point. I feel like I’m being asked to throw a pound of mud into a burlap sack for every one thing I do wrong, carry it to an oven, turn those individual mud pies into bricks, and then build my eternity with them. That would be a lot of mud! The thought of the sheer amount is painful. Depressing. Overwhelming!

Brings me to my next point: I feel like I have to do it all alone.

In my mind, I am responsible. That is reasonable. My shortcomings are my own fault. That’s true. I have to deal with them, or I am weak or entitled.

Um, no. That last one. That’s the knife. Implied is the word ‘alone’. It’s not true. I don’t have to go it alone. I can’t. Nobody can. The truth is the exact opposite: we can never make up for our own mistakes by ourselves. We will always fail. Always.

Jesus Christ did what he did to give us a way out. Out of debt. Out of addiction. Out of style. Bad style, not good style. You get the point.

The power of the Atonement is a literal power. It enables. It strengthens. If I look at myself in the mirrors of Scripture and the words of modern-day prophets, the truth comes out. It’s happened before. I feel uplifted and motivated, not depressed and deflated. I’m reminded of the Resource that is available: a kind and loving God, and His Son, who came not to condemn, but to save.

The depth, breadth and magnitude of that truth is intense. My Roe Intensity only bears fruit as I lean on a power greater than my own to carry me. It’s the only way I can soldier on when that 65 hour week just kills and the tips suck and the cars are old and the pressure is thick.

Most of all, it’s the only way I can fight and still build the light of the Gospel into everyday life. I think God for sending His Son to do what He did. Our burdens can be made light as we work like He worked, yoked up with him for the duration.



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