Today was the first day of the two day LDS General Conference—my favorite weekend of the year. Well, since we have General Conference twice a year I have two favorite weekends.
When Elder Worthland got up to talk it took a long time for him to come to the podium. He is about ninety years old, I think. He’s a small man with generous ears and has a generous spirit too. Today his body decided to do something weird while he spoke. I’ll bet it was because of feeble knees. His body looked like he was doing mini-bounces on a mini-trampoline. He never stopped giving his talk. I’ll have to wait until the Ensign (Church magazine) comes out with the talks in it because I was so concerned that he was going to fall over I forgot to listen. He made it through, all right. Never even paused. Now that’s courage and determination. What a great example.
Which brings me to some inner dialogue:
“Well, what would you have done?” says I.
“I would have apologized and said something like, ‘oh, excuse me, my old knees have decided they need to sit down, so I think I will. Read my talk in the Ensign,’” says me.
“That would be the coward’s way out,” says I.
“Well, since when have you ever seen the word, ‘Courageous,’ blazed on my forehead?” says me.
“You don’t think you have courage?” says I.
“No, do you?” says me.
“Well, since you and me (or me and I) are the same person, I’d have to say yes,” says I.
“Really,” says me.
“Really,” says I.
“Give me just one example,” says me.
“Okay, in heaven, before you came to earth, you said you’d love to be the mother of five children. That’s pretty courageous,” says I.
“Most everybody volunteers for that,” says me.
“Yes, and you don’t think that is courageous?” says I.
I think about this for a while. I think about the fear of childbirth. I remember saying to the nurse during one birth, “I’m going to die,” and believing it. I remember the nights I walked the floor with a child with a fever, croup, and teething babies, children who wet the bed or were afraid of the dark or insisted on “just one more story.” The countless meals I’ve cooked, the clothes I’ve washed. The figure that gained more pounds with each pregnancy and having to buy clothes in the “fat store.” Nothing takes more courage than having to walk in there and admit you can’t shop in normal stores. The teenage angst I’ve lived through. The watching out the window for the car lights that came home way too late that sometimes didn’t come home at all. The babies that came too soon and having some cretin doctor call them a fetus instead of a baby. The tears I shed for that life I wouldn’t get to share—three times I grieved over lost babies. The worry that children will do something incredibly stupid and will have to live with the consequences of it all their lives.
“I guess that’s courageous—to have children,” says me.
“Yes it is. So is standing at the podium, at age ninety and speaking to millions of Latter Day Saints. We all are courageous. Some of us are courageous by just getting out of bed instead of staying there, where it’s safe. We all have different things to deal with. Your friend is in the hospital tonight, her future uncertain--she is courageous. A lovely courageous woman. Another friend, who seemingly has it all, will have her time to be courageous. It comes to everyone. Don’t discount anyone. Don’t discount yourself.”
“It’s easy to discount yourself,” says me.
“Well, it doesn’t make God happy,” says I. “Give yourself a break and give God some credit. He made Elder Worthland, courageous man that he is, and he made you too. Do the best you can and go on to the next thing,” says I.
“What will the next thing be?” asks me.
“Aah, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? It’s a surprise,” says I.
“Not all surprises are good,” says me.
“And they’re not all bad, either,” says I. “In fact you will think some of them are bad but they are really good. Wait and see what those bad surprises make of you. Something good,” says I.
“I’d rather not have the bad surprises and just be mediocre,” says me.
“Then you wouldn’t be able to stand next to Father Abraham without feeling like you didn’t earn the privilege,” Says I.
“I do want to be able to stand next to Father Abraham, someday,” says me.
“So, there you have it. Be courageous and look to the future with anticipation,” says I.
“Do I have to?” asks me.
“No, but the future is coming all the same so you might as well be positive about it,” says I.
“Well, I can’t promise anything but I’ll think about it,” says me.
“That’s all I ask,” says I.
And then I’m done with the inner dialogue. I’m going to bed now so I can get up in time to shower and do my hair before the last day of General Conference (until April). It will be good and I will see more courage and hear about courage and hope I will resolve to have courage too.