Life continues to be a learning and growing experience. A lot has changed for me with respect to dating. The girl that I've been writing comes home from her mission on Tuesday... I don't know what will happen, or even what I want to happen there... I think I want to do some more dating... But that's a topic for another letter, tonight I'm writing about a different issue, something that stands more on its own...
As a preface, one of the things that I found I had to do to get away from my addiction to pornography was to completely give up video games...
It was hard to do, because I enjoy playing them, but I feel like I am easily addicted to them and after I walked away from them I found I had more time to do things that were important to me, and it became easier to resist other temptations as well.
As a result, It had up until recently been about 2 years since I had logged into my account where I keep my video games.
Well... This was all great, but now I have started going to school at Utah State University. I love it here, and I am living here with roommates. Two of them managed to talk me into playing a game with them and we had fun, but afterwards I looked at it and said, "Look at all that time I wasted!" I had this I wanted to do, and this, and this... Instead I didn't get anything done, AND I got to bed way too late!
So this has happened a few more times, and every time I walk away feeling the same way... Asking myself why I wasted my time. Then I decide that I played Friday night, and that's enough for the weekend so Saturday I will do something else...
Then next thing I know, Saturday night comes and, along comes the question... "Civ?", to which I respond something along the lines of "I don't know about tonight..." to which the response comes back as. "In other words... yes" then he starts up the game and I end up in the game playing...
And if I stated a time that we are stopping at, along comes that time and passes right by with me ignoring it. All because I am having "fun". Then I get done and I'm disgusted that I didn't have the willpower to say no in the first place and ended up wasting another entire evening.
I try to say things, and drop hints to help my roommates recognize that I really don't want to, and am uncomfortable with the situation but unless I have enough confidence and willpower to straight out say, "No, I can't" They ignore it and I get pressured in to it. I want to walk away from it but I don't have the willpower.
Well... It happened again tonight, and I stayed up later than I wanted to, and I didn't get anything done that I wanted to do... It's a vicious cycle...
So I've been thinking about it, and thinking about what I can do to escape. It reminds me wayyyyy too much of an addiction. And honestly I think it is an addiction, I think it feeds my addictive side. It really is just like an addiction to pornography. I get a short term high, and then when it is over it leaves me at a low searching for the next quick high...
The interested mix of this situation is that I feel like I would have the willpower to say NO! if it were just my own desires play, but as soon as that peer pressure element is added to the mix, I feel like my willpower is gone. It amazed me to realize how easily influenced I am by my peers, even at age 27. We hear about it so much as youth, but I don't think I've heard much about it with regards to later years.
It has given me realization of the importance I need to place on having peers that will look out for what is important to me at my core. Peers that will look out for those signs that I am uncomfortable in a situation and help me stand stronger. Peers that will stand with me in my beliefs so that it doesn't have to be a decision.
That said, I can't blame my roommates. I was the one that made the decision to play with them. While they did make the decision harder, they are only responsible for their own actions, and not my actions/choices. Which brings me to the question... How can I stand stronger? How can I resist that pressure? How can I stay true to my beliefs in the face of pressure?
One thing I've heard is "Make the decision before" And I feel like I do that at least to some extent. Earlier today I made the decision that I was going to do something else, but when the time came to put the decision to action that prior decision lost to the moment and peer pressure.
As a note, tonight I did make the decision to completely uninstall it from my computer. And I did follow through on that while I was writing this email. I figure that will give me an extra buffer to say, Sorry, can't play. Since I can't moderate it to appropriate levels of play, I can't play at all... It is what I did before, and I've found that it was the only line that I could actually uphold with video games, which is why I hadn't played them in almost two years up to now. That said, the line was held mostly against pressure from my own desires, not so much external peer pressure(Ok, my little brother wanted to play them with me, but that was much easier to say no to for some reason.).
Tonight, I felt like I was prompted to not play, to say NO!. Instead I ignored that voice and listened to the voice of man... It's easy to see in hindsight, but I don't want to live this way, I want to have the strength to obey every prompting I receive completely! I think of Nephi when he talks about how easily beset he is... That's how I feel right now.
Which leaves me asking, How can I develop an internal strength? A surety of self that allows me to stand and hold true to my beliefs, desires and the promptings I receive in the face of external pressures? How can I remove this weakness from myself? Uninstalling the game feels like the right step for this specific situation, but I know there will be other situations when the same option will not be available to me, and I want to be able to handle those too... How can I change?
Thank you Brother Jo! I appreciate all of the time you spend responding to each and every email you receive. It has been a huge blessing for me!
- Name Withheld
Our job is to do the best we can honestly do and then to trust in the Savior to make up the difference.
If you can't stop playing the game, you're right to uninstall it.
As I've been pondering your questions I've been comparing your situation to athletics. How does an athlete become stronger? Faster? Better at their sport?
They continue to master the fundamentals. They workout. They practice.
Spiritual stuff is like that, too.
If we want to improve spiritually we need to continue with the fundamentals (read, ponder, pray, attend meetings, go to the Temple), we workout (live our religion, push ourselves to learn and love more deeply), and we practice (listen to conference, be of service to others, be active and seek missionary opportunities).
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed with all that you need to do (we ALL have lots of stuff we could do better) - pick one. One thing, and work on that. Then, as you begin to live that principle better, pick another. Start with small simple achievable goals and be sure to note the blessings that come into your life as you live that principle.
And, in all things be grateful.
- Bro Jo
PS: How have things gone with the Return Sister Missionary?
It's been several years since this last correspondence. I thought you might like to know that the original letter writer of the emails from the last few days is now married for time and all eternity to a wonderful woman.
- Bro Jo