Today was General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - a worldwide broadcast where we can hear from the leaders of the organization, as well as partake of divine council from the prophets of God. It isn't often we all get together (only twice a year), but when we do we receive quite a lot of profound advice and direction from men who commune with our Heavenly Father. It is both awesome and humbling to realize that much of what they speak pertains directly to me and my situation.
Of note in the first session of this conference was Elder Neil L. Andersen's talk on forgiveness. Much of what he said eludes me, but a comment he spoke (or rather, I heard and he may never have actually said) is that we must accept the fact that some people simply never change; and even if this fact causes us hurt or pain, we must forgive them and love them the same anyways. It was a most poignant moment for me as I realized that the Lord was speaking directly to me, touching on a reality that I have been reluctant to admit: I feel sorrow and pain at family and friends who aren't living the commandments and who have stepped away from the Gospel light. This has, in turn, caused me to lash out at them (but only in my mind thus far).
Such feelings are never good, and it is probably best that I work on them and get them resolved. However, what really struck me later after having thought on the matter for awhile is this: no matter how many people are in the congregation, church feels so empty without your loved ones there to enjoy it with you. As I sat today watching the 20,000+ people in the Conference Center singing hymns, it occurred to me that it seemed so empty. A curious thought for sure considering the size of the audience. I concluded after much pondering that it was because I thought of all my friends and family who weren't watching it, and that caused me to feel like I was alone.
I hope sincerely that my family and friends come back to full church fellowship and will participate with me in watching these sacred events. One day I hope to even go the conference center with all my family and enjoy a session. Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but at least it gives me hope that I won't see a dearth of attendees when I watch conference in the future.