What Will I Regret?

[ 12 ] Comments

by Cheryl

dieter-f-uchtdorf-10When 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.

And …

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?

Computer TestingI 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?

About Cheryl

Cheryl has been blogging for many years about --but not limited to --her children (there are six), her husband (there is one), her depression (not fun), her travels (very fun!), her religion (loves it), and anything else that strikes her fancy. Right now she's probably reading a book or changing a diaper, maybe at the same time...

12 Responses to What Will I Regret?

  1. Mary says:

    I have 2 thoughts while reading this{well, quite a few thoughts, but these 2 stuck out the most}.
    A friend of mine gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on happiness. She said it simply,” In our pursuit of happiness, we need to not forget to be happy.” That has stuck with me ever since! {Which has been maybe, 18 months now?}
    A few years ago I was in so much pain emotionally from the miscarriages I was having and my sorrow over not having the family size I wanted. At one point my husband said,{ in a very loving way},” You need to stop focusing on the family you don’t have and focus on the family you DO have.”. That really made me stop and take at look at what I was doing with my life. I am ashamed to admit that I realized I wasn’t giving him and my daughter all of of me. My daughter was growing up fast. I realized I was missing out on it and that I would in the future, regret not having given her all of me. That was a big aha moment for me. I learned it was time to live in the present. Today. Here and Now. Live life and plan life with just the three of us. If we are ever blessed with more children, we’ll just add them to our life plans then.
    Since that time{ about 2 years ago} I have been much more happy. Content. At peace.
    I think we all at times need to take a step back and evaluate our lives and how we are spending them. Then make the changes necessary so we can live a more happy, fulfilled life. Whether it be cutting back with online usage, letting go of something emotionally, etc. We then will be able to give our family all of us. And afterall, isn’t Family what it’s all about?

  2. Sheila W says:

    I just gave a sacrament talk Sunday on Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk. I know, well, of what you speak since I delved so deeply into the thoughts. While I haven’t actually left Facebook, I did take time yesterday to try and structure my life a little more to get those things done that I should, and limit those that are the “trivia and transient” to a smaller block of my day.

    While I struggled when I was first given this topic to talk about, it has easily become one of my favorite talks I have given. I did feel the Spirit through the whole composition of it, and Pres. Uchtdorf’s love and concern for us comes through soundingly clear.

  3. Julie says:

    I know you know that I completely agree with you on this. Quitting Facebook (and I truly don’t think I’ll ever go back to it) has been a watershed event in my life. One of those moments that things shifted…for the better. I’ve had a few of those previous to this and I hope to keep having them.

    I’m glad you had the courage to do something that was so difficult for you! Great thoughts in this post.

  4. Bonnie says:

    I think often of Becca’s essay on the bullseye and how if our goal is the center, a pull in any direction accomplishes Satan’s objective of getting us off target. I have found myself trying to justify the good I might do as well, and had to realize that I was off target, so the good was an illusion. It takes a great deal of courage to remove the things that pull at us when we like how they pull at us. WTG.

    • Cheryl says:

      Thank you for mentioning Becca’s post –I hadn’t even thought of it, to be honest, but it fits so perfectly. My personality absolutely loved the instant communication with hundreds of people — yay! Social acceptance with the click of a button! Truly, the deterioration of my family life and my own goals was silent. I really didn’t notice it was happening until I was in the thick of it all.

  5. Liz C says:

    Excellent job following through on your inspiration! I think that’s really the only way we can know what to change.

    Regret… I think I will regret time I don’t allow myself to engage with the family and people nearest to me. I would regret not staying active and doing interesting things to help out within my various spheres. I would regret not trying to learn whatever it is Heavenly Father wants me to learn about being a visiting teacher. I would regret not being a good example of a believer for my kids and husband.

    I do see habits I need to change in order to erase the potential regrets that are fully in my control… Good things to think about, Cheryl! Thanks!

  6. MSKeller says:

    Well, I could go on and on, since I was one of the original ‘onliners’ and have a lot of stories I could tell. Bottom line is that there is balance to be had. When something, anything, takes up your time, energy and your resources more than those top five things on your eternal list of priorities, they are too much. No matter what they are or how much you enjoy them.

    There are always reasons, excuses, validations and stories we can tell ourselves. Unless we choose what we say we care the most for, what we really DO care the most for will be evidenced in what we spend our most time with/at.

    Kudos for doing what is best for you and your family.

  7. Laura says:

    I lasted on Facebook about two months and despite the potential for good, even in that short time I saw where it was taking me. Yes, I was rekindling lost relationships from my mission, getting in touch with people I hadn’t seen in years, hoping that somehow I could reach out and touch their lives in a positive way… however it was all an illusion. One night I got a glimpse of what it was doing to me in my real, day-to-day life, and I saw how for one, it wasn’t really helping my self esteem any because I wasn’t being completely honest in how I portrayed myself, (and honestly it was sad how much I cared what others thought so much so that I couldn’t stop hoping and checking for comments/validations), and secondly I just plain realized that it wasn’t my responsibility to change those people’s lives, but to live my own and as long as I was on the computer I wasn’t.
    I’m kind of an all-or-nothing gal in some cases and so limiting stuff doesn’t work as well as getting rid of it altogether, so I just plain got rid of Facebook as well. People may not understand, but for some of us, it’s the only answer, at least until we can figure out how to make it work. I figure it can wait until my kids are less dependent on me or something. Kudos to you for acting according to your own personal revealed truths.
    As far as regrets, I wonder if sometimes I don’t allow myself to really live in the moment, my head is too busy being critical or I don’t like to be too cliche or something. That sounds silly I know, and it’s most likely not going to affect my Eternal Salvation, but I still wonder if there is anything I can do about it. It’s not exactly what Elder Uchtdorf is talking about, I think, but perhaps it’s related. Any suggestions?

    • Cheryl says:

      I don’t have very many suggestions, except baby steps. To try something one at a time. One thing I remember is many years ago being annoyed with my SIL because she didn’t like long road trips. She felt that there needed to be many breaks along the way, whereas I was raised going to Canada every year (only an 8 hour car ride), and the goal was always to just *get there* so the fun could begin! When I traveled with her once (12 hours) with our kids, she kept wanting to stop at parks and get pizza instead of drive-thru’s, etc. and I was so annoyed! But years removed, I see her wisdom. It wasn’t “suffer until we get there” it was “enjoy the whole trip!” Baby steps, you know?

      And I just want to say “AMEN!” to your point about having to be an all-or-nothing person. I have a very addictive personality, and so when I tried to limit FB time, I failed spectacularly. It’s nice to know I’m not a complete alone-weirdo in that aspect. 🙂

  8. Jim says:

    I enjoyed this post and all of the comments.

    It is so easy to take the course of least resistance or to choose the comfortable path. I know I usually do this by default, without even thinking about it. Habit is powerful. But time flies, and before we know it, we may find that we have allowed ourselves to be caught up in the thick of very thin things.

    I think part of the challenge is that we are immersed in a world of instant gratification. At any moment we have a dozen options of things we can easily do that are fun or pleasing. Spiritual and eternal pursuits generally require a little bit more effort, and the reward isn’t always as instantaneous, so I can see how we develop the habits that we do and how we may someday have regrets.

    Elder Oaks’ talk about “Good, Better, and Best” comes to mind. I think that most can avoid bad and can be content with doing good things (especially things that are naturally pleasing and quickly rewarding). It takes a little more diligence and faith and effort to consistently choose to do the best things (especially when those things are not instantly rewarding or are not comfortable for us). I think we do need balance too that includes some downtime.

    Unfortunately, even though I hope to live another 40 years, I already do have regrets, mostly about relationships that I wish were stronger and about not becoming the person that I would like to be. I have become too pessimistic!

  9. Cheryl says:

    Well I’m doing it. AS of next week my facebook account will be deactivated. Too much at stake to keep doing what I’ve been doing which has been spending too much time there at the expense of the ones I love the most. Thank you for the inspiration. This has been a journey with several blog posts, articles (did you see the one in the deseret news yesterday about Mom on her iPhone?) etc to get me to this point.

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