For those of you not familiar, a perfect explanation of how our church is organized into local congregations may be found here. Twice a year we have Stake Conference, a time to gather and learn together as a larger group and also see those we don't see often. It's a great time to learn and strengthen each other.
Alright. Now that everyone is in the loop, I can continue on with lessons learned at Stake Conference.
Lesson 1: It's NEVER too late to come back.
I learned this lesson quite awhile ago, but this weekend was a nice reminder. 4 years ago, I made the BEST decision of my life when I decided to go back to church. Seriously, it was the BEST thing I could have ever done for myself. I plan to write down my (re)conversion story in a future post, but for now, just know that I really feel this was the best decision in all my 29 years. During the time I was "away", I met my best friend Kerri. So not all bad. But I will tell you that it took me a whole lot of tears, heartache, embarrassing moments and years to get back to a place where I am comfortable in the gospel.
Kerri is on this journey herself at the moment. She has recently decided to come back to church, and I couldn't be more excited for her. I'm excited for her as she works toward remembering that our Heavenly Father loves her. Attending her first stake conference (well, sort of. She did come to mine so she could see me sing in the tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City!!) was nothing short of exciting. I never thought we would be in this place as best friends, and I am beyond thrilled. There is so much joy in the gospel, and it is so fantastic to be able to share that with someone, especially someone you love as your own sister!
If you have wondered about coming back (or even joining) and are scared, it's ok. It can be scary making serious life changes. But they are changes for the better!! We are always here for you. The one thing I wish were different about that time period in my life was knowing someone who had been through the same thing. Someone to talk to as I made my way back. So email us if you want to chat or just need some support. Believe me, Kerri and I have put ourselves through some pretty terrible stuff. So chances are, we have been in a similar situation. It's a process, but not one you have to do alone!!
Lesson 2: STOP IT.
Again, more of a reminder. Maybe this should be titled "lessons reminded" rather than "lesson learned"??Anyhoo, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the first presidency gave a wonderful talk on this very topic in the April 2012 General Conference of the church. He had this to say:
"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: