About a month ago I upgraded my phone. I liked that the screen was bigger so it is easier to read on it. I like that it has a better camera for all the photos I take of my kids. But one day, I discovered something I’m not so sure I like. I found that my phone has a pedometer and it was automatically tracking all my steps. I have always considered myself a fit person, however the number of steps my phone was tracking was showing a different story. Being the competitive person I am I started checking the number of my steps excessively. However, as I started paying attention to my phone’s opinion of my fitness I realized a few things – first of all, if it tracked the number of steps I took looking for my phone every time I lost track of it the number of steps would be significantly higher. But even more importantly, I noticed that every day my phone showed a large period of inactivity. Every single day. There were other smaller periods throughout the day, but there was always one significant one.
Do you know what I do during that long period of “inactivity” in my phone’s step tracking? It was when I was exercising, usually running or biking. What my phone showed as my longest period of inactivity every day was actually my most productive part of the day when I ran 5 miles or biked 30 miles, but while I was achieving that productivity I left my phone at home. My phone showed me as unfit and unproductive because it didn’t recognize what I was actually doing.
The world around us sometimes feels like it is a pedometer automatically tracking our steps. We love to be busy and productive and we love to show our results. However, Elder Scott recently told us, multiple times in very precise language, that the most important thing we can do with our time is pray, study, have family home evening, and attend the temple. He said:
“Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!”
(Make the Exercise of Faith your First Priority, Richard G. Scott, General Conference October 2014)
That’s all nice and good on paper, but it’s so hard to implement when we have others who are checking our worldly productivity pedometer. When we have to tell our boss why we have to leave work earlier than they would like. When we have to tell our teachers why we didn’t finish our homework. When we have to tell our friends why we can’t hang out.
Elder Scott is telling us exactly what I learned by looking at the pedometer on my phone. The world will look at those breaks of ours as a period of inactivity, because it is unable to track what is truly our times of greatest productivity. It can’t track how we aren’t completing assignments, but we are becoming better people. We aren’t working to provide for our mortal life, but we are working and providing for our eternal life. Do we realize that those moments that show us as inactive in the world’s eyes are when our spirits are running? And the benefits we receive from our spiritual productivity are so productive it spills out into the rest of our lives making it far more productive than it would otherwise be.
I was able to spend this weekend with some of my fabulous girlfriends. We spent a lot of time doing things that our worldly pedometers can’t track. We went to the beautiful Portland temple. There are no worldly pedometers allowed within those sacred walls, but my spirit soars.
I spent the rest of the weekend at the aptly named Time Out for Women conference in Portland, an activity that no worldly pedometer could even begin to track.
This weekend I didn’t do any dishes. I didn’t help my kids with homework. I didn’t make any beds (pretend for a moment that I do that at other times even if it’s not true). I didn’t do any laundry, wipe any faces, do any grocery shopping, or any other thing that I do that constitutes as “productivity” in the life of a stay at home mom (which is already considered to be very low on the worldly productivity totem pole). But my soul was running marathons.
It is easy for me to get prideful about my pedometer, both the actual one and the worldly one. However, I cannot be fooled into thinking it tells the whole story. My life cannot be tracked by mortal means because it is an eternal life. If I limit my activities to things the world can track I will get to the other side of the veil and realize that the pedometer that really counted, the pedometer that counts the steps I took while taking upon myself the name of Christ, will not contain enough steps to get me back to the outstretched arms of my Heavenly Father.
I have learned that I don’t care if my worldly pedometer shows gaps of idleness as long as my eternal spiritual one shows constant activity.
PS – There will be posts about the things I learned from the presenters at TOFW soon, but they need to cook a little longer in my mind before they’re ready to serve!