Friday, October 28, 2011

Avoid Idleness

Today I read 2 Corinthians 1 which is Paul's opening in what we know is actually his 3rd letter to the Saints in Corinth. He speaks about a lot of things in this chapter and it is very hard to narrow down what to talk about, but I think I will focus on something that has been on my mind recently. Every 6 months, after the new General Conference, I download the talks and burn them an MP3 CD to listen to in my car as I drive around town. I listen to it about 4-5 times at least and then put it away until the next March or September to refresh myself and get myself in the mood to listen to the next Conference.

One of the themes I have noticed in the October Conference of this year as I have listened to it a couple of times now, is avoiding idleness. Satan's plans are fulfilled by us doing nothing as much as they are if we do that which is wrong. We live in a world of excitement and infinite distraction. If we allow ourselves to, we can be distracted by things which are not bad, but which do not further the work of the Lord to the point where Satan's plans are accomplished. For those of us who have gone through the temple, we have made covenants to avoid idleness. To me that means we should be anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord.

I'm sure most of you have heard the old adage that idle hands are the devil's workshop. To me this has always meant that when we are not doing something productive, we will be tempted to do something that is not productive, something that is wrong. In this day and age of so much technology however, I think it has another, new meaning also. I think it also means that when we are not doing something good and productive, we are accomplishing the devil's plans by being idle.

I like to play video games, actually I LOVE to play video games. My top 3 favorite things to do are to spend time with my family, read a good book and play video games. And depending on my mood determines which of the three I want to do at any given time. I remember after my mission when I was about to leave for college I asked for a father's blessing from my Dad. I remember the blessing told me that there is nothing inherently wrong with video games and they were ok for recreation, this is back before most of the bad video games that have come out in the more recent times, but too much of them isolate us from other people which is not good. I really cannot tell you another single thing that blessing said, not one, but that part of it has always stuck with me. We need to make sure that if we play video games, they are in keeping with the values of the church, just like with all other forms of media. But we also need to make sure that they do not consume and control us. Video games can become very addictive. I have read numerous stories about people who have literally killed themselves playing them too much, or killed others through negligence or downright anger when a concerned family member tried to step in.

Anything that is addictive is against the Lord's plan, because it limits our agency. Even seemingly good addictions, like exercise or spending time with your family, can become tools of the devil if we do them instead of the things of the Lord and what He wants us to do. As I re-read the verse that prompted this, verse 17, I not realize that Paul was not referring to idleness but to how he had communicated his message to the Saints. However, I feel strongly that this is what God wanted me to talk about today. I pray every morning before reading the scriptures and doing my blog that He will help me know what is most beneficial for me to talk about. Obviously He wanted me to talk about idleness today and to re-evaluate my own life and perhaps help some of you re-evaluate your lives too.

Parents, are you spending your time when your children are awake playing with them? Or do you find yourself glued to your cell phone in one fashion or another, or playing on the computer, or watching TV? Your children only get one childhood and trust me when I say that as much as they probably love TV and cartoons and movies, they would much rather spend time with you. I personally view my day and time as only having free time when my daughter is asleep. If she is awake, I am spending time with her, or I am at work. That is MY priority.

It disturbs me to read articles about how much time we as a nation spend watching TV or movies or playing on the internet. Everytime I read that type of an article I can't help but wonder where their children are while they are doing this. One of my all time favorite commercials is about a dad who comes home from work. He goes into the house and his wife and three children are all in different rooms, all using different things with electronics. So he turns off the circuit breaker to the house and starts cooking some hotdogs or sausages on the grill outside and his family comes out to join him. It is a sausage commercial I believe, but what a wonderful message! And it's not even an LDS commercial is one of the reasons I like it so much! We need to learn to turn off the TV, the radio, the cell phone, the computer, the video games, and go for walks as a family. Play a board game together. Go for a bike ride. If they are old enough, are you going on Father/Mother/Children dates? Are you spending quality alone time with each of your children at least once a month? You should be. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are when my Dad and I had our monthly "date" together. Sometimes all we would do is go get some ice cream and talk, but I cherish those memories more than any video game I ever played, or any book I ever read for entertainment purposes.

We need to be anxiously engaged in a good cause the scriptures tell us. Sometimes that good cause is spending time with our children and teaching them that there is more to life than TV or Facebook. My daughter loves to be outside and go for walks more than anything in the world. If you put on her all time favorite movie and then tell her we are going outside for a walk, she will run to the door and wait without even looking back at her movie. She loves it! Let's put down the electronics and spend more time doing quality things with our children, even if it's just a board game of some kind. They will remember even playing a board game together much longer, faster and with more fondness than watching a movie together, I promise. Until tomorrow.

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