Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In my opinion, some of the happiest days of the holiday season are the ones that immediately follow Thanksgiving. Trees start to illuminate living rooms, presents begin to appear, carols archived for months begin to ring out again, and lights twinkle on the streets during the all-too-early dark nights.
To me, Christmas decorations don’t just bring physical beauty with them. They bring an anticipation of an upcoming holiday season. We look forward to commemorating the birth of Christ just as we anxiously anticipate when He will come again.
So to me, it seemed only fitting that I study President Russell M. Nelson’s talk “Embrace the Future with Faith” by the light of my little Christmas tree during the first week of December.
As I did so, I found four footnotes in his women's session address that helped deepen my own understanding of embracing the future with faith. Here are some of my takeaways.
1. The Hopes of President Hinckley
In his address, President Nelson said, “You embody the hopes that President Gordon B. Hinckley had for you when he introduced ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ 25 years ago in the September 1995 general Relief Society meeting.” This statement has a footnote attached to it which shares:
In the address that accompanied this proclamation, President Gordon B. Hinckley said to the sisters: “I am grateful for the strength that you have and for your loyalty, your faith, your love. I am thankful for the resolution which you carry in your hearts to walk in faith, to keep the commandments, to do what is right at all times and in all circumstances”
Reading President Nelson’s statement alongside President Hinckley’s comment made it even more significant to me. What a compliment to be told that we embody the hopes of President Hinckley. In the margin next to President Nelson’s statement, I put a bulleted list of what President Hinckley’s hopes were:
- • The strength that you have
- • Your loyalty
- • Your faith
- • Your love
- • The resolution which you carry in your hearts to:
- • Walk in faith
- • Keep the commandments
- • Do what is right at all times and in all circumstances
When I looked at that list, I was reminded of what President Nelson said in the October 2019 women’s session. As he began his remarks, he mentioned looking at his wife, his daughters, his granddaughters, and his great-granddaughters. “I felt like I’d like to claim every one of you as part of my family,” President Nelson said.
I don’t know about you, but when President Nelson said that I felt his personal love for each of us. So when President Nelson said we embody those hopes, it really feels like a loved one is paying tribute to each of us, which in turn, makes my resolve even stronger to live up to those hopes.
2. A Glorious Future Amid Spiritually Treacherous Times
In his address, President Nelson stated:
Admittedly, the Lord has spoken of our day in sobering terms. He warned that in our day “men’s hearts [would fail] them” and that even the very elect would be at risk of being deceived. He told the Prophet Joseph Smith that “peace [would] be taken from the earth” and calamities would befall mankind.
In a footnote accompanying this statement, President Nelson shared, “The Apostle Paul prophesied that ‘in the last days perilous times [would] come.’ That would make our day spiritually treacherous (See 2 Timothy 3:1–5).”
“Spiritually treacherous”—what a phrase. And yet, amid these sobering terms and perilous times, President Nelson’s address spoke of a glorious future.
“I am not saying that the days ahead will be easy, but I promise you that the future will be glorious for those who are prepared and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands,” he said.
So even amid doom and gloom, I love that the prophet said brighter days await.
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3. The Privilege and Blessing of the Holy Ghost
Speaking in general conference, President Nelson said, “a place of security is anywhere you can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost and be guided by Him.” In his footnote, he shared this powerful statement:
Eliza R. Snow taught that the Holy Ghost “satisfies and fills up every longing of the human heart. . . . When I am filled with that Spirit, my soul is satisfied, and I can say in good earnest, that the trifling things of the day do not seem to stand in my way at all. . . . Is it not our privilege to so live that we can have this constantly flowing into our souls?” (in Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society , 46).
I love the words used in this statement from the prophet and this statement from a former Relief Society General President. The Holy Ghost allows for security and satisfaction and can cause for “the trifling things of [our] day [to] not seem to stand in [our] way at all.” Truly, it is a great privilege to have that blessing in our lives.
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4. A Divine Endowment
Young women around the world repeat the phrase found in the Young Women Theme, “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny.”
In general conference, President Nelson gave an insight into part of that divine nature. He said, “You have a divine endowment that enables you to build faith in others in compelling ways.”
Attached to this statement is a footnote which shares, “The Apostle Paul signaled this reality when he attributed Timothy’s unfeigned faith to his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother Lois (see 2 Timothy 1:5).”
What the Apostle Paul shares really is a beautiful witness of this divine endowment:
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
What I love about this footnote is it creates the testimony of two witnesses. President Nelson, an Apostle in our days, shares that we have a divine endowment that enables us to build faith. And then the Apostle Paul shares how the unfeigned faith of Eunice and Lois influenced their son and grandson, Timothy.
Women have the ability to build faith in others in compelling ways. President Nelson pleaded with us, “Please, keep going! Your vigilance in safeguarding your homes and instilling faith in the hearts of your loved ones will reap rewards for generations to come.”
As we do that, I believe we will not only be able to embrace the future with faith ourselves but we will see it go on for generations to come. And that is something we can all look forward to.
I love my copy of The General Conference Addresses Journal Edition. It has all the text of the General Conference addresses from October 2020 in one spiral-bound paperback. Extra-wide, lined margins give you space to record your impressions and document insights you receive. Available now at DeseretBook.com.