Due to popular demand… here’s Meghann Pricer’s amazing talk “A Call to Arms” given at this year’s 2014 Huntington Beach Midsingles Conference.
“A CALL TO ARMS”
What would you want to say if you had a mega phone, and had an opportunity to say anything to 1200 of your peers? It is an interesting question, one that is typically rhetorical, but in this case, I actually get to execute what I would like to say.
So every year it is a tradition for the conference chair to get up and speak on the conference theme. When I was first told that we had to choose a theme and a scripture I kind of blew it off and thought…com’n does anyone really ever pay attention to the theme? Or even read the scripture? I thought it was a corny formality that really did’t really make a difference. Then I realized that I had a choice as to if it was going to be cheesy and typical, or if it was going to be bold and make an impact.
I believe the Lord prepared in a few ways to lead this conference, and I have been quite humbled. One way he prepared me, is he gave me insight and perspective into all the different circumstances and life stories that may be in this room today. Often times in the “Mormon Culture” we all get thrown into one bucket because we are “single.” Oh, well they are not married, so they all must be in the same boat, with the same problems, let’s tag them as single and have them hang out together until they find someone.
Well, we are all very different and come here today with different needs and a different story. And many of us feel differently about these singles events. Let me share with you where I was 3 years ago.
Three years ago I broke off an engagement to a non-member that I had dated for three years. I came to the realization that I could not be happy with someone that didn’t share my faith and that I needed to break it off. It just happened to be 3 weeks before the famous Huntington Beach Midsingles Conference. I had been out of the “dating game” for quite a while, I had no friends and was completely out of the social loop. The thought of returning to the singles scene made my stomach churn, I did not want to jump back in. But I game myself a pep talk and talked myself into going, not to meet anyone in a romantic sense, but just to make some new friends.
So, the Friday night event was at Angeles Stadium. I went alone, and parked about a mile from the stadium. As I walked towards the registration table I had quite a spell of social anxiety, this was hard for me. I am in sales for a living, I am a professional prospector and get rejected all day, but the thought of going into this singles event was terrifying. I kept telling my self, baby steps from the parking lot, baby steps to the registration table. I even started telling myself to be open and that maybe there would be a cute new guy there, perhaps someone I have never met, “be open.”
Now it is really important that you pay attention to the next few details, please do not take what I am about to share out of context. So, I approach the registration table, and I see this guy that looks kind of cute, someone I have never seen before. I kind of saw the back/side profile view of him, and he had a hat on and was looking down. I kind of got excited and hoped that he would check me in…..low and behold he did. He looked up from underneath his hat…It was was my BISHOP! I wanted to crawl in a hole! I was so glad no one could read my mind. I wanted to turn myself around and take GIANT steps back to my car. (Bishop, please know that I have no inappropriate thoughts about you.)
I share that story with you not only to have a chuckle with you and embarrass my Bishop, but to let you know, that I know and the Lord knows that each one of us has come here today with a different need and circumstance. Perhaps some of you are fresh off a broken engagement like I was, or maybe fresh off a divorce, maybe you are an introvert or have social anxiety and it took a lot of courage just to show up and stand against the wall and hope someone will talk to you. There are some of us barely hanging onto a testimony and are on the verge of going in-active, or perhaps you have been inactive and this is the first time you have come to church in a long time. And some of us even live for the parties and events, you can’t wait to mix and mingle, and walk into a room full of people you don’t know. For you, it is an adventure.
As my team and I planned this this conference, we tried to keep as many of those vast needs in mind as we could. We hope and pray that through the Lord’s work, we have made an impact for each if you.
So, What inspired the theme, A Call to Arms?
Back in November, I had to attend a business conference in Dallas for my firm. There was nothing that was out of the ordinary about this business trip, it was an event I had to go to every year, but there was some distinct situations that I was undergoing in my personal life that I was trying to navigate through. A couple of days before as I was preparing for this trip, I received a strong warning from the spirit: “Meghann, be prepared, you are going to get hit hard in Dallas.” My mom even called and gave me the same warning. Now I was feeling particuarly strong in my faith and testimony at that time, things were going great and I couldn’t imagine anything that could come my way that would rock me. Boy did I underestimate the adversary. During this trip I became eerily aware of how personally intimate the adversary knows me and my weaknesses. Every insecurity I have was played on, every appetite I have was tempted, and every weakness I have was exploited. What was really interesting about it, is that it was very subtle, I am not susceptible to sex drugs and rock n roll. No, the adversary knew what would entice me in very subtle ways, emotionally, and mentally, he knew exactly where to hit me, how, where, and when. It was a rough three days…and I made it, barely. I wish I would have heeded the warning a little more seriously and strapped on a little more armor.
Through that experience I came to the reality that the WAR in heaven never ended,it is still going on, it has transferred here on this earth, same battle, different field.I came to the reality that there is a war out for my soul. And if there is a war for my soul, there is a war for each one of my brother and sisters, each and every one of you. Literally, we are in a spiritual warfare, and Satan is a brilliant and tactical adversary, he knows us very well.
It is comforting and hopeful that our Savior knows us even better. That he has provided us “spiritual armor” if we will but take it upon ourselves. And so, I thought it appropriate for our theme to be “A CALL TO ARMS.”I feel inspired to speak about something very specific to our group today. This topic has really been impressed upon my mind and my heart and there is part of me that is reluctant to say it out of fear of how I may come off or that it wont be popular, but I am going to take the jump, and speak by the spirit and hope the Lord’s message will reach you.
I want to preface that each one of these examples I point out I am guilty of myself, the only way I am familiar with them is because I have lived it in one form or another. So, please don’t take this as me standing on a soap box, I am actually calling myself higher.
So, here is the big question:
Is the singles scene a Fortress? Or, another Battlefield? Is it a place of rest and safety? A place of peace and protection? Or, is a another field where we allow the adversary in to do his subtle yet destructive work?
Why is the Mormon “single scene” such a tough deal sometimes? Is it because we are apart of a faith and a culture that is based on family and eternal marriage? If we are not married, we feel like we are just not quite up to snuff, or that we just don’t cut it in the Mormon program?
Why in the 800 records in my singles ward, 600 people are inactive? Why do so many of our brother and sisters that once had testimonies stray? Why is what the world is providing a better alternative than the environment we are providing as their family in the gospel? What are some of the things that we do as a “culture,” that create distance and barriers between one another and deflect a feeling of peace and protection? I don’t think our cultural flaws are responsible for all the struggling testimonies and all that fall away, but I do think that the adversary is using our human weaknesses to destroy our fortress.
I would like to offer a few examples of how our cultural flaws destroy a feeling of peace and protection.
We live in a culture where the hottest thing is reality T.V., we thrive off of the drama and tragedies of real people’s lives. Its interesting, enticing, and captivating, and for years the human spirit has been drawn to it. For some reason we all love to hear about the he said, she said gossip and reasons why “it didn’t work out.” This gossip addiction is one of the adversary’s greatest tools of destruction. And it is so subtle, we don’t even know we are doing it.
The most often used and lethal form of gossip is when we have conversations about one another’s romantic relationships. When we date someone, we get to know some pretty personal details of their life, we get to know the bad and the good. And when we break up for what ever reason, it becomes the latest news. People just have to know who broke up with whom, or who wanted the divorce.
We don’t only do this in our romantic relationships, we do this with any kind of relationship. How often do we walk into a party and say, “Hey, whats the scoop with that guy?” Or, what is the story with that girl?” Instead of taking the time to get to know that person for ourselves and get our own perspective. Most of the time gossip is never intended to hurt anyone, and yet it is a subtle weapon of the adversary. It drives barriers between us. That is how Satan works, we read about Satan’s subtle nature in Alma 12 vs. 4&6:
“4 And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out. And this is the plan he has for each one of us:
“6 And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.”
The reason gossip is so destructive is because most of the time it is a one sided story, the facts are inaccurate, and we don’t have a complete story. Yet, we walk around with completely inaccurate perceptions and stories about one another, and never does it provide a feeling of safety and peace.
Another subtle tactic of the Satan is Judgement. How often do we judge? Do we even know when we judge? We all judge different things, and typically judgement comes from a personal insecurity we have and we judge others to make ourselves feel better.
I don’t have time to go into all the different ways we judge, each of you know your thoughts and insecurities. Judgement is destructive to our fortress because the human spirit is very sensitive towards judgement, you can feel it. When people feel judged or compared, it is so easy to feel like you don’t belong or your not cutting it. We have lost many of our brothers and sisters to judgement.
Elder Uchtdorf’s touched on this topic last October in general conference:
“The Church is designed to nourish the imperfect, the struggling, and the exhausted. It is filled with people who desire with all their heart to keep the commandments, even if they haven’t mastered them yet.
“If you define hypocrite as someone who fails to live up perfectly to what he or she believes, then we are all hypocrites. None of us is quite as Christlike as we know we should be. But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Another tactic of the adversary is having us “make assumptions.” We all assume a lot about each other. We assume that someone has it all together, that someone has a lot of friends, or is really confident. We assume that someone has a strong testimony and would never fall, never question their faith. We assume someone has a friend, and always has something to do on a Saturday night, or maybe we assume that someone is well off based on the kind of car they drive or that they may come from a perfect family. We assume a lot and much of the time we are off mark.
To demonstrate this point, I would like to do a little exercise to demonstrate my next point. Everyone stand up, and if you can’t stand, please hold your hand up.
Have a seat if:
You have it all together. All your ducks are in a row.
Your life is going exactly as you hoped and planned.
You have never questioned your faith or testimony?
You have never asked yourself, “I don’t know if I can do this Mormon thing anymore?”
You have never felt alone.
The adversary and his force have not personally attacked you.
Take a look around, these are your brother and sisters, we are all fighting the same battle, in the same war, just on different fields. Each one of us is a prime target for the adversary and his forces, we are the generation that will create eternal marriages and families to carry on the work in these last days. If he can get you doubting your faith, fearing to engage in relationships and creating barriers between us, he is winning. Each one of us is a priority to him. Assumptions are destructive because they desensitize us to one another’s needs. We all walk around with so many needs and rarely are in tune with what someone else maybe needing. Rarely are our assumptions accurate about one another.
So, how can we protect each other?
1. I know that many of these personal conversations need to happen, it is good and therapeutic to share our experiences. But when we do, and when it involves someone we have personal insight and intimate details about, be sure to ask yourself what is your intent in sharing. You can ask yourself, by sharing this story or detail, am I exposing this person? Or protecting this person? Is this detail necessary to share? If you ask the question, it is typically black and white and answer, and the Holy Ghost will help you.
2. As for judgement, try to recognize when you are judging, typically it is tied to your own insecurity. So, the next time you catch yourself judging, ask yourself why you are judging and remember the words of Elder Uchtdorf, “we are all hypocrites” and we are all falling short.
3. And for assumptions, stop assuming, don’t take someone else’s word for it. Get to know someone yourself, give them a shot. Lets become re-sensitized to each others lives and needs. Don’t assume that they have it all together, most of us don’t. I am not under the illusion that I can get up here and give a one time speech on changing our cultural flaws. But I pray that one thing I have said today may have resonated with you, and that you will go home and try to do a few things to create a fortress in your home ward. If each one of us did at least one thing to work on it, we could really make an impact, eliminate the adversaries ability to play in our fortress and even win some battles!
If you are a conference chair or called to the committee, or if you have a pair of dog tags, please stand up. This is a team of your brothers and sisters that have loved and served you for the last 6 months. They have put in countless hours and thought into serving you and loving you and how they could make a difference for you. And there are many more under them as well. Please give them some love. If you see one of them wearing dog tags please shake their hand, let them know if they have made an impact on you, give them a hug.
I also would like to thank my family for being here today to support me. You have been the troop that has been fighting with me and protecting me my whole life. And I am so grateful that I have a shot at being with you forever.
In closing, I would like to share one more thought:
I have spoken to several Veterans over the last few months, and I have taken a little survey on one question. I asked each one of them, “When you were on the front lines, when you were actually exchanging fire in battle, what were you think about?” Each and everyone of them had the same answer. “ I am fighting for the guy next me, I am fighting for my friend, my buddy.” Not one of them said they were fighting for their own life.
Our Savior has taught:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his brother.” I have a testimony of the adversary, I don’t know if anyone has got up and bore their testimony about Satan, but he is real for me and he is real for you. I also bare testimony of my Savior, I know that He is real, and he knows me better and is much more powerful than Satan. I put my trust in him, and his power. Satan may have power to bruise my heel, but with my Savior and taking upon his armor I have the power to crush his skull.
I pray that this may not only be a call to armor to protect one another, but that it is a call to HIS ARMS, as Alma exclaims in 2 Nephi, that we too many be “encircled about eternally in the ARMS of HIS LOVE.”