It's the Monday after General Conference, and you know what that means. That's right, it means Deseret Book and Pinterest are overwhelmed with the task of sifting out the best sound bytes from the weekend to see what works appropriately as a cross-stitch or vinyl wall lettering and what could be fleshed out into a cute booklet in time for Christmas.
I don't envy them this task, because, par for the course, Conference was pretty incredible. I generally come away from Conference weekend feeling inspired, edified, and chastised so lovingly that I manage to still feel good about myself while simultaneously realizing I need to change almost everything about me.
We come away from these weekends with this abundance of rich, profound counsel; it can be like spiritually drinking from a fire hose. I am still processing this weekend, but when I think on past counsel or advice that has stuck with me, one that stands out is President Monson's directive to "Say 'I love you' more. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
The whole statement was actually something (re: exactly) like this:
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important—and what is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know.
Send that note to the friend you’ve been neglecting; give your child a hug; give your parents a hug; say “I love you” more; always express your thanks. Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved. Friends move away, children grow up, loved ones pass on. It’s so easy to take others for granted...”
I have felt a profound appreciation the last 12 months for the people in my life; from my family to my friends to acquaintances to people I don’t know who read this blog! You are all wonderful! There have been moments when family and friends and new neighbors have showed up, often un-summoned, at the precise moment they were needed with words of encouragement, acts of kindness, written sentiments, sanity-saving service, and the words “I love you.”
Perhaps there are those that feel the phrase “I love you” should be used sparingly. Or only for family or maybe those we love romantically. Maybe some feel that to hear it used often makes it sound phony. Or that it’s uncomfortable. I don’t know. For me, I love to say it. It stirs up feelings of gratitude and comfort, of appreciation and compassion. It helps me be mindful that my actions, even my life, will provide the evidence to back up what I am saying. And I’m grateful for that.
I did not grow up watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I was actually in college the first time I saw it. I watch it every year now, and each time, without fail, I have a lump in my throat the entire movie. From the opening scene when George Bailey’s friends and family are fervently praying on his behalf, to the end when loved ones are pouring into the Bailey home, freely pledging their love, friendship, and trust to save the life of their dear friend.
I love the way George instinctively sacrifices for the benefit of those he loves.
I love the way he stands by his convictions.
I love the way he is affectionate with his children and friends.
I love the way Mary reminds me of Katie; the way she assumes the best about George in spite of his occasional grumpiness, the way she works to make their lives wonderful.
I love the themes of our lives being sources of good and light, for each other.
I love the oft-quoted lines, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole,” and “Remember no man is a failure who has friends."
I never watch this movie without thinking of the individuals in my life who have affected me and influenced me for good. My conviction is that I have been blessed throughout my life with knowing some of the finest people on the planet. Beginning with my parents, the first people to hold me, and certainly including my favorite, the one who of her own free will decided that spending eternity with me would be a good idea. And of course the 7 additional souls living in my home. (8 next month!)
Siblings, in-laws, neighbors, loved ones, and friends. I am richly blessed, beyond anything I deserve, with friends who invite me in and share their lives with me, and likewise are interested in my own.
I love everyone! I am so grateful for everybody! I so greatly appreciate President Monson's reminder to let others know how much I love them. So I apologize if it makes you feel awkward to hear it, but the next time I see you, I'm telling you that I love you. Because I do.