After watching the Mormon Messages video about the Young Woman’s purse (from a talk I really enjoyed), I clicked on this video: Things As They Really Are. There were a few moments during the video when I almost cried. By now you should know that I am a softy and I cry at just about anything. Seriously, sometimes watching my kids play can make me cry. Watching home videos of my kids when they were babies? Tears. Home videos of my childhood? Tears. I’m just saying, it’s not very significant that I cried during this video, because just about anything can make me cry.
Back to the point – you should watch it. Everyone should watch it.
Here are the two questions Elder Bednar gave for us to study:
I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying:
1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
2. Does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?
You will receive answers, inspiration, and instruction from the Holy Ghost suited to your individual circumstances and needs.
Because I liked the video so much I decided to go read the talk the excerpts came from. The excerpts in the video were taken from a CES Fireside given by Elder David A. Bednar which was subsequently published in the June 2010 Ensign. I knew that it was familiar, because I had read it in the Ensign.
The talk is rich. Powerful. Packed with truth and declarations from a prophet of God. I won’t go through the whole thing, because a lot of the good stuff is in the video, but there were a few things that stuck with me from the talk.
At the beginning of his talk, Elder Bednar stated that the topics he was going to discuss had “both immediate and eternal implications.” Usually we know that our actions have eternal implications, and a lot of times our actions will have earthly implications – but usually down the road. This made me perk up – these topics have immediate implications.
In the talk, Elder Bednar really stressed the doctrine of having a physical body. Having a physical body is very important for our eternal progression, and one of the reasons Satan tries so hard to ruin that is because his eternal progression was stopped when he was denied a body due to rebellion against God. I recently read the account of the Savior casting out devils and the spirits going into the swine and running into the sea to be killed. Elder Bednar pointed out, “when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine,showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none.”
Teaching us about the importance of our physical bodies, Elder Bednar said, “Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate.”
The first attack by the adversary Elder Bednar pointed out was that of addictive substances and behaviors, as well as preoccupation with body image. I have always been well aware of this attack, and have thankfully never dealt too much with any of these attacks in my own life. I had good parents who taught me to stay healthy, and who taught me that “healthy” is better than “skinny” – or whatever the world thinks is the best body image. I have also been able to stay free of harmful addictive substances (also thanks to my good parents).
The next attack Elder Bednar speaks of is thrill seeking, doing things that put our bodies at risk so that we can get an “adrenaline rush.” He said, “putting at risk the very instrument God has given us to receive the learning experiences of mortality—merely to pursue a thrill or some supposed fun, to bolster ego, or to gain acceptance—truly minimizes the importance of our physical bodies.” Thankfully I hate adrenaline rushes, and I get plenty being a mother (“Don’t touch that!” “Don’t lean so far over the edge of the deck!” “Don’t climb that!” “What is that coming out of your nose!” “What’s wrong with your eye?!” … need I go on?) and I have never had any desire to put my physical body at risk for anything. This has at times prevented me from experiencing some really fun and not dangerous things, but my husband who is somewhat of an adrenaline junkie is helping me experience more things that I wouldn’t originally have experienced without him – because I put them in this “high risk” category and they aren’t really – like riding dirt bikes and jet skis and motorcycles.
The last attack is one that I sometimes fall prey to. Do I sometimes “neglect eternal relationships for digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value”? I can tell you that I have frequently idled away time on the computer – purposely wasting time because I want the day to end, or because I am depressed about something, or because I can’t think of anything better to do (i.e. I am lazy). I am ashamed to admit it, but it is true.
Most of the time I spend on the computer is usually writing in this blog (studying the scriptures and writing about it), writing in our family blog (preserving our family history), working on family history, writing family members. But I spend far too much time on “virtual relationships” – even if they are good relationships. I enjoy reading a few blogs written by LDS women – women who seem to be like me – they enjoy the gospel, they enjoy writing about the gospel, and they enjoy being mothers. Elder Bednar stressed that “things [should be] experienced as they really are through the instrument of our physical body”, even, no especially, “the sincerity in the eyes of another person as testimony is shared”. All this time I have been feeling like my time spent communicating on LDS women’s blog has been justified because I am sharing my testimony with them, and they are sharing their testimony with me – but there is something to be said about experience that testimony sharing in person, face-to-face, experiencing it through our physical bodies rather than simply our mind. I was so grateful to be able to spend time a few weeks ago (in person, with my physical body) with one of the women I look up to a lot on the blogosphere.
Because we have moved so much in the past few years, I have been keeping in contact with my friends from all the places I have lived through this virtual world. This has been good for me, but I think that I have neglected making new real friends where I am now because I am able to still connect with my old friends. I know that this has been stifling my growth – it’s just different when you have a best friend who sees you in person “as you really are.” They have a different perspective of you and they can see what you need to change and can help you with the things you really need help with.
After re-reading this talk I have decided that I am going to make a better commitment to make true, real friends in my neighborhood and in the real world so that I can experience those relationships that are so necessary for this life and for our mortal experience.
The last thought I wanted to share with you was about fidelity in virtual worlds. Elder Bednar talked about two scenarios. The first - high fidelity with a good purpose (such as flight simulators, surgical simulators, computer software that helps build safe buildings, etc) - “Such a simulation can be constructive if the fidelity is high and the purposes are good—for example, providing experience that saves lives or improves the quality of life.” Then he showed these two pictures. The one on the left is a virtual simulation of a sealing room in a temple. The picture on the right is an actual picture of that room after it was built and furnished.
The next scenario he described was high fidelity with a bad purpose – such as video games or online social networking where you start to forget “the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.” This kind of simulation “can lead to spiritual impairment and danger if the fidelity is high and the purposes are bad—such as experimenting with actions contrary to God’s commandments or enticing us to think or do things we would not otherwise think or do ‘because it is only a game.’” I have to think about that – how often do I justify behaviors or experiences because “it is only a game” or “it is only a TV show” or “it is only a movie”?
Elder Bednar also stressed the importance of personal fidelity – that is, being the same person online and offline. I have tried to be diligent in being the same person online as I am offline, but sometimes I feel like I am a better person online than offline – I mean, in my online world I know that I speak less harshly (it’s easier to control my words when I have to type them – and I can see how they come out), and I know that I am more tolerant of others in an online world than in the world around me.
Fortunately, that means I know that I am capable of being tolerant and of measuring my words – I just need to work on being that way in the real world. It isn’t enough to be that way online. I have to learn to actually be that way, which means conquering the natural man – something that is a real experience, and not a virtual one.
How has the digital world affected you and your family? How has technology blessed and enriched your life? How has it been a challenge for you? Do you remember that your body is essential for eternal progression? How do you make sure you are having real experiences? Are you working on learning how to use your body in a real way?