Priorities and empty wells, or why I need blog rehab.

My inner voice has been nagging me a little bit.  It should.  This quote by M. Russell Ballard has been on my mind lately:

Women-drawing-water-“Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.”

You know how you nag your kids over and over about the same things, and if they would just do it your life (and theirs) would be much easier?  Well, that’s where me and my inner voice are right now, except that I am the disobedient child.  (And by the way, let’s give credit where credit it due:  my inner voice is not that bright; it’s really the Holy Spirit–the way God talks to me when He’s trying to get a message through.)  So I need to do an all-out better job of this replenishing business.  My kids deserve that from me and I deserve it for myself.  But there’s a catch, and I’m just starting to get it.

The word replenish means “to make full or complete again, as by supplying what is lacking, used up, etc.”  (Three cheers for dictionary.com).  For me, the only real way to replenish myself is to read my scriptures and pray more sincerely.  I’ve been allowing myself to get distracted by other things, even good things, and some of that replenishing has been left for the 11:00 p.m.+ hour.  And then, big shocker, I fall asleep.

Here’s my mistake:  I’ve been replacing replenishing with refreshing  (wow, that was very alliterate of me).  Clarification– I’ve been trying to do things that refresh me instead of things that replenish me.  I just figured out that to refresh is kind of like spraying a cool mist in my face, but to replenish is to drink deeply.  One makes me feel better, but the other heals me.  Does that make sense?

Case in point: this blog.  The purpose behind it is to help other moms (and myself) remember and recognize the divinity in motherhood.  It has been a “refreshing” outlet for me, but I cannot achieve its purpose or any of my other purposes if I am not sufficiently “replenished.”  So while things like blogging, or reading a book, or spending a gift certificate on a new pair of shoes might really give me a lift and get me through a rough day, they do not heal me.  I need to go to the source, the living water, if I really want the strength to do what I should do and be who I should be.

Then last month, I was reading an article in the August Ensign about the spiritual dangers of excessive online gaming.  I thought it was interesting in a very I’m-glad-I-don’t-have-that-problem kind of way.  It had a little quiz you could take to determine your level of addiction and I skimmed through it.  It occurred to me that if I replaced “gaming” with blogging or facebooking or dinking around online, I might be in trouble, so I payed more attention.  Behold (and beware) the quiz:

Am I Addicted?

A good measure to use when determining the value of a hobby is if it adds to or takes away from your sense of balance. Healthy activities help you feel revitalized, refreshed, and ready to tackle your challenges. Destructive activities leave you feeling drained and empty inside and less able to cope with the struggles of real life. Destructive activities also tend to leave you feeling compelled to continue rather than feeling in control of your decisions.

Although there is no specific test for addiction to online gaming, the following are factors that, taken together, may indicate an unhealthy involvement or addictive tendency.  [my own edits are in italics]

  • • Do you play compulsively?
  • • Do you play for long periods of time (often longer than you had planned)?
  • • Once online, do you have difficulty stopping?
  • • Do you play as often as you can?
  • • Do you sneak or violate family rules in order to play, even when facing punishment or loss of privileges for doing so? [or try to slip away from activities with your kids so you can check your email?]
  • • When you are not playing, do you obsess about the game, plotting and planning your next opportunity to play?  [do you not pay attention to something happening in your family right now because you’re drafting a blog post in your mind?]
  • • Do you sacrifice real-world things for your online world?
  • • Is your gaming negatively affecting your relationships with family members or other non-gamer friends? For instance, if you are a parent, does it cause you to neglect your children’s needs? If you are a child, does it cause you to distance yourself from your parents and siblings?
  • • Do you consider other online gamers (even those whom you’ve never met in real life) to be among your best friends? [Okay, I actually feel fine about this one because my answer is “yes,” but they are an added blessing to my real-life friends and I think it’s one of the blessings of a blogging community.]
  • • Is your school or work [or housework] suffering because of the time and energy you spend gaming?
  • • Are you having a difficult time [fulfilling your responsibilities like your calling or visiting teaching] because of the extended break from the game that will naturally result?
  • • Do you neglect personal hygiene?
  • • Have your sleep patterns changed since you became involved with online gaming? Are you staying up extremely late or getting up in the middle of the night to play?

So… um… yeah, that hurt a little.  There’s nothing worse than realizing there’s a part of you that’s exactly like the other people you judge (admittedly not right, either).

Anyway, I am recommitting myself to my real priorities.  I love my blog and I’m not going to abandon it; I’m just going to be more focused and come up with strategies to help me prioritize and use moderation.  This other quote from M. Russell Ballard will be my focus:

“Pray, study, and teach the gospel.  Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother.”

Anyone care to join me in your own tailored challenge to replenish?

(confession: part of this post is recycled from a year ago, but I needed to hear it again. Oh, and the image is from who.org)
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25 thoughts on “Priorities and empty wells, or why I need blog rehab.

  1. I can feel you reaching through my computer screen and tapping me between the eyes. Thanks. Lately I’ve been better about not letting the internet take over my life — I don’t let myself even turn the computer on till my to do list is done. But of course, not today. Today I chose to read blogs over breakfast instead of read my scriptures. I made a conscious decision to do that, and what’s one of the first blogs I read? This one.

    At the beginning of the year I started a scripture blog since I was making time for blogging and not scripture study. It really helped me for about 2 months, then seriously died off. But I think I’ll read and post today.

    THANK YOU FOR THE REMINDER.

  2. A good reminder for all of us. I often spend much more time refreshing (and I’m not just talking about my google reader page) than I do replenishing. Thankfully (I CANNOT believe I just said that) I am speaking in church in a couple of weeks so it has helped me do a little more replenishing.

  3. Yeah. I’m pegged. If I’m not blogging, I’m reading, and both are rather addictive (and both are reading, ha ha). I think replenishing will be this month’s goal for a daily activity. 🙂

  4. A couple of months ago I decided to take a break from the computer for a week. It was probably one of the best weeks ever! I had so much fun playing with my son and relaxing. It was hard the first few days, but by the beginning of the next week, I really didn’t feel the need to start stalking my computer again. It was really nice! I really think that we tend to spend too much time in energies that don’t really matter. Thanks for posting (or re-posting) this!

  5. I totally had the same thoughts while I was reading that article. Thank you for articulating them. I am working on how I can really change this aspect of me.

  6. I am trying to be more balanced in my life as well. My publisher wants all the authors to get on Facebook and Twitter as well as blogging, but I am apprehensive about that. Adding more to my Internet duties feels counterintuitive to what I feel is right. How do I work that out???

  7. Ugh, it’s so hard isn’t it? I really needed to think about this today. I struggle back and forth a whole lot. Sometimes my hobby is simply revitalizing and taking nothing from my life. So many other times, I have to answer YES to all those questions. Hard.

    Just today I was at the park with the boys and I suddenly remembered that we forgot to go to school orientation last night. I felt sick because I knew that it’s because I’ve gotten so scattered, distracted by blog posts in my head and trying to keep up on writing this or that and blah…so frustrated. So yeah, my post yesterday was coming from a place much like what you’re talking about here. How can I forgo the living water I really need for things that simply mist my face?

    Thanks, lady.

  8. Well, when I read that article, I thought, “Boy, do all those other ladies whose blogs I spend hours reading and commenting on while neglecting my duties and personal hygiene have a SERIOUS problem.”

    So honestly, girls, shape up. Sheesh…

    (woops…gotta run. someone just left a comment on my blog…)

  9. I, too, appreciate your distinction between refresh & replenish. My recent (mostly wonderful) extended vacation has left me worn out and in serious need of replenishing… Fortunately our bishop challenged the whole ward to read the Book of Mormon in the next 4 months so that should put me right into a lot of replenish!

    BTW–both of my teenaged boys had marvelous experiences at EFY this summer, (my difficult 14 year old even hugged me when he got back!) and I was grateful to you and every other wonderful EFY teacher that works so hard to bring the spirit to their classes!

  10. I would love to join you. I have been struggling with the ‘lamp is empty’ in my own life. I love how you explain the difference, and I am seeing that in seeking ‘refreshment’ I am not healing myself, healing of which I am in desperate need. It’s like the children of Israel… I used to think they were so stupid for refusing to just look at the stupid snake on the stick…and here I am all of a sudden one of them.

    Anyway, I’m in. I need to be doing this too.

  11. This is the very same conversation I had with myself at the beginning of the summer. With all the costume stuff I was doing, when I was home I really needed to be HOME for my kids, and not tuned in to this little black box on my desk in the living room. Now that my kids are back in school, the black box has magnetized me once again, but I have a little egg timer that I set on the desk for a predetermined amount of time, and when that goes off, the computer goes off. It has helped me (and my kids!) tremendously!

  12. I love this little epiphany: “I just figured out that to refresh is kind of like spraying a cool mist in my face, but to replenish is to drink deeply. One makes me feel better, but the other heals me.”

    Thanks for the excellent reminder (as I continue to type at 11:59 p.m.) 🙂

  13. I’m so old fashioned–I want to see the “follower” bit on your blog so I can be one.

    This post was wonderful. I want to be replenished. I am reading the Book of Mormon most mornings and all nights, having a meaningful prayer at night and a quicker on in the morning. Meditating as often as possible, trying for twice a day. Reading the Ensign at least twice a week and listening for the promptings that are there. I want to drink, not be spritzed. Thanks for this great post.

  14. You know, I had the same reaction when I read that article. I already knew I was spending too much time on the computer – not because I neglected anything, but because I didn’t feel good about myself after I finished up.

    Reading all the comments above has made me feel like I am not alone. It has been difficult stopping myself from checking email constantly, but I know my daughter will benefit from the time I have freed up.

  15. I tell myself all the time that I should quit. Just quit blogging altogether. I step away for a couple of days and than come back to it. What I have learned is to keep my family first. And when I get some extra time on my hands I write. Or comment, like today. It makes it less stressful for me to take it in baby steps.

  16. This was a fabulously written post, Stephanie. I don’t struggle with this quite as much as I used to, but I’m a work in progress with regards to my online time as with everything. For me it helped to realize it was the social aspect of it that really drew me in. Focusing my time on the people (read friendships) that matter most to me helped me cut back my online time hugely. Anyway, I love the insights you shared with us. Thank you so much.

  17. Well put! That article hit me, too! August was a replenishing month for me (especially the first week or so – http://blhvamos.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-did-i-do-instead-of-blog.html )… It made me see where my priorities HAD been and where they need to be.

    I have to admit, that I’ve gone back to my old ways a little bit. But I’m working on it! A great article about reading scriptures is in the August Ensign: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=8bbe15e67b5b2210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    It’s a great article about HOW to feel replenished!

  18. Thanks for sharing. I remember that article…but I read it before I started blogging and more importantly started reading blogs. I am so glad that you wrote this post so that I was able to revisit the article with a new lense. I now need to have a good hard look at the areas that I need to improve in (eg staying up late to read blogs! yikes!)
    I would love to know how you got on last month.

    Take care
    Juggling Motherhood in New Zealand
    (it’s our general conference weekend over here – looking forward to joining your book club)

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