A Comfortable Dead Watch

[ 23 ] Comments

by Bonnie

My eyes darted across my dresser one last time as I rubbed frantically at my left wrist. Where was it?! I could not leave without it, but the clock on the wall was fairly shouting that I was going to break my word if I did not go right then. I would have to choose between wearing a watch and being on time. I set my teeth and left watchless.

We live one block from the church, but for months we’d been straggling in four different kinds of minutes-late. My children are teens who get themselves ready. I had no excuse and I knew it. I promised the Lord that I would make a priority of being on-time for the service that allows me to renew my baptismal covenant as a small way of honoring the great sacrifice it remembers.

But I couldn’t go without my watch.

I’ve worn a watch since I was a teen, and I’ve been running late since about the same time. My mother used to say that I wore a watch and never looked at it and was always late, while my younger sister never wore a watch and was always on time. It’s true. But I need a watch. I do not feel comfortable without one.

So there I was, sitting in Sacrament Meeting rubbing my right hand around my left wrist absently. After the sacrament portion of the meeting, my youngest daughter got out my ‘grandma bag’ that I bring to church to entertain the small children who sit in the long pew with us, and there was a watch! It was my old gold one with crystals, permanently stuck at 12:00. That’s why it was in the grandma bag. I nudged her and told her to hand me the watch, which she did, thinking I had come up with some new way to use it for a toy. I put it on and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“‘But it doesn’t work,’ she said, bemused.

“It doesn’t matter; it’s a watch,” I said firmly, and with considerably greater peace of mind.

image courtesy of LDS Church

As I pondered the people of Zarahemla, who would reject a foreigner who stood on a wall to tell them that they weren’t paying attention to the truth they had, and about whom I would be teaching in a few minutes, I felt a sudden connection. As so often happens when I read about fools in the scriptures, I was them.

It’s far too easy to wear our religion comfortably and never look at it, to not be changed or motivated by it, to have it “on” but not have it directing our timetables and our activities. If it’s dead, it’s just an ornament, because a watch is meant to be more than an ornament. It’s a tool.

Religion is a tool to bring us to Christ. Do we check it? Do we make decisions by what it says? Does it help us be prepared?

I’ve watched this devotional, given by Elder Holland the same day as my watch lesson, several times in the last two weeks. I keep finding points that inspire me and they’ve been the best hours I’ve spent in some time. If you’re the sort who consults your watch, you’ll probably like it.

This forms the raison d’être for Real Intent: to explore ways to use our religion to bring us to Christ.

In future posts we’ll explore “Everything Since Sunday” – a gospel discussion meant not to substitute for the vital worship and connection we get from our local congregation, but to expand that worship into our week, our conversations, our lives. Check out our Everything Since Sunday topics section in the lower left corner of the site when you’re looking for something specific.

It is time to do something more, to expand the conversation, to take it to a higher level. This is our effort to pay more attention to our watch, to let it set our priorities. We hope you’ll join us.

Please, introduce yourself below, and we hope you’ll stay with us for the ride, get to know us and let us get to know you as we refine our discipleship exploring pragmatic issues of personal faith, strengthening families, and engaging in our communities.

About Bonnie

Living life determined to skid sideways into the grave and say, "MAN, what a ride!"

23 Responses to A Comfortable Dead Watch

  1. Paul says:

    Bonnie, love this image of wearing the gospel.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I loved Elder Holland’s talk. I love Elder Holland, period! Such a great post, Bonnie. “Religion is a tool to bring us to Christ.” –I like that, a lot. I think it’s easy for many people to see religion as simply a traditional definition of their past, or perhaps something they check off of their list: “I have a religion. Check!” What you’ve brought to the forefront is that religion should be there to help us improve– to actually change our hearts and behaviors.

  3. I am excited that we are going to be using this forum not to replace the vital work we do on the Sabbath in our Church meeting, but to supplement.

    Too often it seems like the online conversation about the Church has been to talk about how Sunday meetings are useless, and “I can get more out of the gospel on my own.”

    Reminds me of a story Elder Hallstrom told in General Conference in April – “President Spencer W. Kimball was once asked, “What do you do when you find yourself in a boring sacrament meeting?” His response: “I don’t know. I’ve never been in one””

    Without fail, if I find a meeting boring or lacking in “depth” of the gospel, all I usually have to do is look at myself and my attitude. A slight tweak of attitude is usually all it takes and by the end of the block I find myself having been uplifted and strengthened.

    Several times I have been thinking about what I learned one day in sacrament meeting or in another meeting and I remember “hearing” something but later find out that no one ever said what I “heard” – but I’m sure the inspiration was prompted by something the speaker said, or the Spirit that was present because I had opened my mind and heart to the speaker.

  4. Pam Werner says:

    I love the purpose of this forum. Way to go!!

  5. You said to introduce ourselves, so here goes:

    I’m James Goldberg, and I used to think I was really smart. And then I realized I do dumb stuff every day, and I really need to pay more attention and think about what I’m doing and learn when to take myself seriously and when just to laugh at myself.

    I’m excited about this blog because it seems more focused on helping us think about practical, everyday issues in our lives and faith rather than trying to comment on the whole set up of society at once.

    Also: I love the parable of the dead watch.

  6. Katrina McNiven says:

    I loved this post, and I am excited about this blog. I am in Primary, so I often miss a lot of the gospel discussion that most people are exposed to – even if it is just on the Sabbath! I am looking forward to engaging in gospel discussion and taking it to a higher level in the application of those principles!

  7. Alison Perkins says:

    I’m excited to see this site.

    I love this post about the dead watch.

    Thank you

  8. A dead watch — great metaphor. I suppose there are probably other metaphors for what our religion should not be, like, say a shelter only for stormy days.

  9. Rebbecca Brown says:

    Hi. I am a mom of five and the member wife of a convert. It’s interesting though because it is my husband who has truly converted me. It has been a struggle these last few years trying to raise our oldest three boys. Using and seeing the Gospel in our everyday lives has been challenging from the point of view that neither of us were raised that way. I am looking forward to visiting this site very often!

    • jendoop says:

      Hi Rebbecca, I’m not a convert, I was raised in the church but the church has changed a lot over the years and my family wasn’t very involved. So I’m kinda clueless about how to do this too. We’re all learning together.

  10. Jae says:

    Intent. It is one of those words I choose yearly as my ‘Word of the Year.” The depth of this word reaches far into my soul. How exciting to find a blog dedicated to what has to be my favorite word. I’m looking forward to what I learn here.


  11. Sue W says:

    This is amazing…I love the way you write anyway, and am very interested in bringing the Sunday discussion into the week in appropriate ways. My jewelry bag is full of dead watches…don’t even explore what that might mean. Suffice it to say, I am in for the ride and anxious to check my watch more attentively. thanks for the invite!

  12. Ray says:

    I’ve never been able to wear a watch – except for when my girlfriend (now my wife) gave me one as a birthday present not realizing I don’t wear them. (the things we do for love *grin*)

    I think of the difference between simply wearing something and choosing to put something on each and every day. I also think of the idea that each person needs to find a watch that means something special personally – and that loving my cell phone watch doesn’t mean I should disparage traditional watches that others wear on their wrists.

    • I really like your thoughts – I usually wear my watch for decoration rather than usefulness (I, too, am attached to my cell phone “watch”). I liked your distinction between wearing something and choosing to put something on every day. An important distinction.

      Really great thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I love the name that was chosen for this blog – Real Intent. Everything we do in life should be done with real intent, especially living our religion, not just wearing it.

    As a side note, our Bishop is showing Elder Holland’s talk for our RS/Priesthood 5th Sunday lesson this weekend. He realized it was a needed for everyone to hear not just those 18-30 years of age.

  14. Barbara says:

    So excited about this website/forum! Thanks to all of you writers for your service and inspiration.

  15. Kaysi says:

    I always wear a watch! I’m in nursery and although it’s good for me to study and restudy the basics, I’m excited to read this blog.

  16. Kathryn Skaggs says:

    I love the watch analogy. I’ll never look at a watch without now thinking about how I’m applying the gospel to my life. Brilliant!

  17. […] was the original launch post for Real Intent. Read it and the comments here. Share the love:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tagged: CES Broadcast, discipleship, Elder […]

  18. Hedgehog says:

    Hi Bonnie,
    Did you find your watch?
    My own went missing for more than 3 weeks not too long ago. I have a tendency to take it off and bung it in a pocket without really thinking what I’m doing. Since it was a present from my MiL, my husband was rather more upset than I was, and as it turned out the lesson was for him too. He came to feel he was running out of time to be getting on with his family history on his mother’s side of the family. To be fair he did the 4 generations direct line years ago, but is now ploughing through his copies of the records to pick out all the other information he can do something with. His parents are non-members and quite elderly, so perhaps may not be around too long to assist him in interpreting the records he has. No sooner had he begun than the watch turned up in an apron pocket – also a gift from MiL (which also only goes to show how I mostly don’t wear aprons too… but I do love my MiL).

    I agree whole-heartedly with ‘Religion is a tool to bring us to Christ.’ I do think there is a need for a blog like this.

    I’d like to read and comment, but poke me if I’m getting too negative or whatever. I don’t mind being poked, but I’m not very good at recognising boundaries where I might be making other people uncomfortable. I’ll try to be careful. I do enjoy discussing things and really digging down. I picked the nom de plume Hedgehog, on account of being small and prickly and I use it elsewhere so will continue if that’s okay with you all, but I’ll try not to prickle you too much.

  19. Bonnie says:

    I DID find my watch, Hedgehog, and welcome to you over here as well! Glad to have your thoughts and your participation.

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