It was hypnotic. The colorful mylar balloon hung suspended in the air without moving, until a sudden unseen air current swept it higher. It gently descended again, slowly meandering as if controlled by some remote pilot. I could not tear my eyes away.
Neither could the other 700 men watching the Priesthood session of General Conference at the Stake Center last Saturday evening. (It was even more distracting than the absence of lyrics for the rest hymn.)
I figure the balloon lost its string and escaped from a party or wedding celebration earlier in the week, and found its way to the ceiling of the chapel. The buoyancy had diminished to that perfect equilibrium where the ballon hung suspended in the air. It never got close enough to the screen or projector to interfere with the broadcast, but it sure did its best to interfere with our focus.
I had been able to ignore it for most of the meeting, as I busily scribbled my notes, but when the concluding speaker, President Henry B. Eyring, began to speak, I finally relented. As the balloon methodically danced in the air above the congregation, I began to “zone out.” I confess that I stopped paying attention to his talk as I stared at the unwanted guest.
As if scripted by some unseen force, the shiny balloon eventually began its final descent during the closing hymn. It dropped lower and lower until a young hero jumped up and grabbed it. Hundreds of men broke into spontaneous applause and cheers. (Really!) Everyone then quieted down for the closing prayer, and the session was over.
Seriously now, this is more than just a cute little story. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I had the opportunity to watch and listen to a PROPHET OF GOD, and instead, I was watching a silly mylar BALLOON. I’ve thought about that balloon a lot since Conference ended and realized that it was highly symbolic of what I’ll refer to as “Conference Distractions.”
There are two types of Conference Distractions: The first are those things that keep us from fully feasting at the Conference table as it is happening. Some of us push our chairs away from the table by necessity, others by choice. It isn’t hard to determine how we responded to these distractions.
The second type are the distraction that race in to fill our hearts and minds after the final “amen” is spoken. I did my very best to enjoy the feast last weekend, but these distractions are already rising up and fighting for my attention..
In his limited physical strength, President Monson implored us to do something very specific: “My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day.” (link)
Oops. I did pretty well until Saturday, when I was distracted by a snooze button and an early meeting.
President Nelson had a simple request: “I urge you to study “The Living Christ.” (link)
A few hours later, Elder Ballard gave a second witness to this direction when he said, “Place a copy where you can see it, and take time to review each of the statements found in this inspired testimony of Christ by His special witnesses who signed it.” (link)
Yeah, about that… I promise I thought about it a couple of times during this week, but it didn’t happen. It would have made for a nice FHE, in retrospect. We probably could have made time during the week to work on this, but, you know, things get busy…
Now these are merely two small, quantifiable examples of specific counsel we received last week, and there is always this week to get started. But from a larger perspective, this Conference was packed with tremendous counsel regarding how we can gain greater faith, become more Christ-like, draw on the powers of heaven, receive guidance from the Holy Ghost – along with so much more. It was full of prophetic warnings and teaching on how to become better versions of ourselves.
We leave Conference determined and focused, but how long is it before some shiny object wanders into our field of view and begins demanding our attention? Do those things cause us to “zone out” and forget to listen to what we had been taught?
“Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one. “ (Alma 46:8)
As we fight the semi-annual battle against “Post-Conference Let Down,” let’s remember to keep our eye on what we were taught, and try not to revert back to that earlier, pre-Conference version of ourselves. It is about moving forward with faith and determination, not ebbing away.
“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:67)
Let’s ignore the distractions, no matter how fascinating, and keep our eyes on that prize.
Bonus: Great talk by Elder Marlin K. Jensen, “An Eye Single to the Glory of God.”