What Will I Regret?
When I heard President Uchtdorf’s talk in October, I liked it. I was impressed. But then, I’m impressed by most of General Conference! Nothing really stood out to me, though, and I tucked it away as another talk that was meant for other people.
And then (because you expected an and then or but didn’t you?) our Relief Society teacher presented it and we discussed it at length. Sort of. The truth is that our delightful teacher spent a lot of time making us laugh, something I think we all needed. But in that lighthearted atmosphere, the Spirit did some working with me, and I realized this talk was definitely not meant for other people.
Each turn of phrase hit me between the eyes:
In our day it is easy to merely pretend to spend time with others. With the click of a mouse, we can “connect” with thousands of “friends” without ever having to face a single one of them. Technology can be a wonderful thing, and it is very useful when we cannot be near our loved ones. My wife and I live far away from precious family members; we know how that is. However, I believe that we are not headed in the right direction, individually and as a society, when we connect with family or friends mostly by reposting humorous pictures, forwarding trivial things, or linking our loved ones to sites on the Internet. I suppose there is a place for this kind of activity, but how much time are we willing to spend on it? If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.
Why, then, do we devote so much of our time and energy to things that are so fleeting, so inconsequential, and so superficial? Do we refuse to see the folly in the pursuit of the trivial and transient?
I had to wonder what I pursued that was trivial, inconsequential, fleeting… Certainly, my time online could be used for goodness rather than an escape from my life. And yet… was it? Was I fooling myself?
I have told myself that what I do online is of great worth. Absolutely, for the most part, it has been. Writing here at Real Intent is something I consider to be of great worth. I’ve also spent many hours discussing gospel issues and sharing things I’ve learned with others. However, in the last few years of my online pursuits, family relationships have eroded, feelings have been hurt, friends have been lost, but more importantly, precious time with my children has been wasted. I had to stop and think about it clearly:
1. My kids and my husband often have to compete for my attention because I’m texting, writing, reading, pinning, and liking online. All the time. All day. All evening.
2. Whenever I have a free moment, I grab my iPad or my iPhone and check status updates, new pins, emails, etc.
3. I care way too much what my online friends think of me, my family, my opinions, and my character. This is slightly unnerving, considering the fact that they don’t see who I truly am as a whole; they are only catching glimpses of my life, and even more troubling is that some of them don’t even know me in real life!
4. The time I spend online in social media is taking away from time I could be spending serving my neighbors, organizing my house, helping my children, and fulfilling my callings, no matter how quickly I am to justify my habits (or dare I say, my addictions?)
These thoughts perfectly segued into something else that pricked my heart. President Uchtdorf said this:
When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we are capable of so much more. For that, good intentions are not enough. We must do. Even more important, we must become what Heavenly Father wants us to be.
How easy had it become for me to justify my righteousness by sharing links to conference talks? I spent a lot of time reading about women’s issues in the Church, I spent a lot of time pursuing truth online, but the Spirit asked me very pointedly: “What have you done with the things you have learned and shared? Perhaps it’s time to apply them instead of simply rallying behind them. Maybe you should be an example, rather than just a believer.”
And it didn’t end there! President Uchtdorf also spoke about how we do not allow ourselves to be happy, how we allow moments to pass quickly and almost demandingly, just so we can get to that place where we will be happy.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment they will end? Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition. …
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available –all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which The Lord hath made…”, the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”
All of these words led me to examine my heart and my life, and think about where I could do better, where I could change. Frankly, I don’t want regrets! At least not the ones President Uchtdorf mentions. Trying to see my life as a whole, as a product of my eventual future, I took Pres. Uchtdorf’s advice and I wondered: What will I regret?
I took those promptings, I took President Uchtdorf’s words, I took my prayers, and I pondered for more than a week. The result? I left Facebook. Simple, it seems, to give up something so seemingly trivial, and yet it was probably one of the hardest things (emotionally) I’ve ever done in my life.
Leaving social media will not be the answer for everyone, and I have it on very good authority (ahem, myself) that I may not be away forever (I just need to re-establish better habits in the interim), but I feel peace about my choice. At least, in this, I have no regrets.
- What will you regret as you get older and your children grow?
- What will you face when you look back and wonder what you could have done differently?
- How can you seek for happiness in the moments, rather than waiting until your life is over to enjoy them?
- Have you been able to apply change and begin to reach your spiritual potential?