Saturday, October 4, 2014

The bold apostle: Elder Holland

Elder Holland's talks are consistently among my favorites. I always feel a little cheated when he speaks in the priesthood session instead of one of the general sessions. Good thing that didn't happen this year.

It wasn't a hard decision to feature Elder Holland in this series on boldness. (The only other apostle I considered was Elder Oaks, whose "Thou shalt not hang out" talk of 2006 still rings in young single adult's ears.) He's not afraid to call us to repentance, to broach uncomfortable subjects, or to bear his testimony to a sea of doubters. He continuously makes me want to cheer, while forcing me to confront my weaknesses at the same time.

It's hard not to imagine such a powerful speaker as being powerful in stature, as well. 

About 10 years ago, Elder Holland presided at our stake conference. Between the only stake president I could remember being replaced by our old bishop and Elder Holland's appearance in little ol' Payson, that meeting was the most memorable stake conference I ever attended.

In typical Elder Holland fashion, he bluntly told the youth of the congregation that we weren't smart enough to make all of our own decisions. I wasn't the only teenager who looked around uncomfortably when he commanded us to trust our parents and leaders because they knew what's best for us.

But he didn't spend his whole time yelling at us, as one of my seminary classmates complained about the next day. He also introduced us to a novel concept (novel to me, anyway): love is multiplied, not divided. I'd like to blame my teenage-girl mindset for my surprise and awe at this statement; I had a hard time picturing someone acquiring a new best friend without shafting the former best friend. I loved my favorite people fiercely, but there was a part of me that thought I had a finite capacity for love. I didn't want to spread myself too thin. 

Even now, I have to remind myself that love isn't like a cube of butter, capable of enriching the taste of only 12 pieces of toast before running out. Love is its own miracle; it increases the more you use it.

After the meeting, Dad escorted his wife and five shy children to meet Elder Holland. I was torn between wanting to slink out unnoticed and wanting to meet my favorite general authority. 

When we finally made it to the front of the room, I was a little disappointed by how old and frail he looked. Here was a guy who could make people cower with his words, and he was shorter than me. He didn't even have a firm handshake (I suspect he was trying to preserve his energy). But when he looked me in the eye and thanked me for coming, I saw the boldness he lacked in his handshake burning in his pale blue eyes.

So when Elder Holland speaks, I shut up and listen.

The index is still here.

1 comment:

  1. Amen :) He reminds me of a modern Alexander Pope; just a little taller and more friendly.