Just a note to share a neat experience I had today in ward conference.
The story begins years before church this morning. I had started using an imgur app as a time-filler about a year or two ago when I wanted to avoid spending hours and hours on reddit around bedtime. So, instead of spending time debating some meaningless meta-Mormonism, I would turn on imgur, laugh at whatever the days funny pictures were, and go to bed.
Well, that time spent on imgur seemed so harmless and relatively wholesome that I really embraced it. The vast majority of images seemed positive and brought a smile. Soon a lot of my free time was spent “avoiding my addictions” by brainless image surfing on imgur. I felt like I was doing a good thing by escaping some of the negative time-sucks in my life. However it wasn’t long before I found myself skimming through the images instead of doing things that I should do. (not in a major way, but still, it wasn’t just empty time filler any more.)
Moreover, I started to notice something really disturbing. Here’s how I noticed it: As we sat in sacrament meeting, during a particularly boring talk, I found myself pulling out my phone for a few minutes. I’m not getting anything out of church, I reasoned, might as well get a few smiles. Within just a few moments of imgur browsing, I felt a physical sensation of the spirit withdrawing. It was like a room going dark when I hadn’t even noticed that the lights were on in the first place.
I thought maybe I had imagined it, but I noticed it happen again and again. If I let myself drop back into “the world” on Sunday by bringing imgur into my day, I felt it. I never really noticed when the spirit came into my life, but I certainly could detect when it left.
So fast forward to today: In a moment of boredom as the family prepared for church, I turned on my smartphone and opened my go-to “distract me” app. I figured “well, we’re not at church, it’s not going to take away the spirit since I haven’t done anything to bring the spirit yet, today.”
The top post of the day on imgur: “How to take dick pics.”
Disgusted, I flipped past, but every post seemed to be some version of vile, crude, or negative. What had happened to the days where most posts were nice, family friendly affairs?
Well I certainly felt like that was a terrible way to prepare for church, so I shut it off.
Then, today, at ward conference, I listened to a special musical number. It wasn’t anything super special. A decent soloist and an interesting arrangement of a hymn. I put my head down and focused on the music. It was nice. It made me want to try arranging music. It made me feel good. I recognized the spirit there.
And I looked down at the smartphone in my hand and realized I didn’t want to step away from this feeling any more. So, before the song was over, I had deleted the imgur app and a few other distractions.
I felt good about it. But the spirit wasn’t done with me yet.
The stake leadership taught classes today. What did they choose to speak about? Addiction. Admittedly, their topic was food addiction, but still, I was blessed to recognize the application of the principles they taught for my own life and my addiction to entertainment.
In the third hour, the stake president then taught about the importance of family counsels, of coming together as a family and helping each other not only calendar our lives, but to improve. He spoke about how young people today are entering the workforce without basic work and communication skills due to lives spent “in distraction,” and I thought about my own children and my example for them. I recognized the prompting of the Holy Ghost there, teaching me that I would need to be proactive in the lives of my children to help them be free from the common addictions of our time.
I testify that the spirit teaches each of us what we need to learn as we do our best to prepare to receive the spirit, and preserve that environment in our hearts. Today as we went in the spirit of fasting to church we were truly blessed and taught and prepared to receive the lessons the Lord had given to his inspired leaders. I’m grateful to God for allowing us these kinds of revelatory and even life-changing experiences through something as simple as church attendance.