I feel like I have neglected to explain some very inspired, eternally important life lessons that I have been able to integrate into a part of my nature. The General authorities including the 12 Apostles, quorum of the Seventy, and the Prophet and First Presidency have prayerfully pondered on how we can use technology with more of a purpose. They call these tools, "Safeguards". These Safeguards aren't just for missionaries that work with iPad’s. When implemented, the purpose of them is to stick with us for the rest of our lives. The purpose of them is to keep ourselves physically and spiritually safe. There are five of them: Obedience (the White handbook in our case), be in tune with spiritual promptings, focus on your missionary purpose, be disciplined, and be one. "Be one" with the Savior. I will briefly explain the principles behind each one:
1. Obedience. I choose to be obedient because I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior. When you think about it, iPad’s and Smartphone’s and other technology weren't just created for communication and social media purposes, but for the hastening of the work of the Lord. For my calling as a missionary, I am completely consecrated to devoting all technology purposes towards sharing the gospel because that is what I am called to do. But when I am not a missionary anymore, I can consecrate much of my time and focus to sharing the gospel on social media, while also using a phone for other purposes. It's all about balance.
2. Be in tune with Spiritual Promptings. Even the strongest filters cannot protect us all the time. The greatest filter that I have is my heart and my righteous desires. Two special gifts God has given, that can help us is our agency (the ability to choose and act for ourselves) and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Which will warn us of any danger before we choose for ourselves. This is so important! Because with every good thing comes opposition. Satan will try to tempt us to use this amazing technology for evil, but think about it, when we are living worthy of the Spirit, and willing to act on spiritual promptings, we will always be safe.
3. Focus on your missionary purpose. Ask yourself, every time you press the "on" button on your phone or iPad is there a specific, fulfilling purpose? If not, we might just be surfing mindlessly and end up wasting minutes or hours. In the missionary atmosphere for me, whenever I turn on my iPad I ask myself, is what I'm doing going to help me to invite others to come unto Christ? If it does, I proceed, if not then I get off of it and distract myself by doing something that does help me to fulfill my purpose. I have tried to make it become a habit and it has taken time to think every time if an activity fulfills my purpose. But it's so worth it!
4. Be disciplined. I like how this one is described. Is your iPad the master and you are its' servant? Or are you the master of the iPad and it serves you?
5. Be one. To 'be one' with the Savior means to follow Him and do as He does. Jesus Christ was always looking for ways to teach and encourage others to come and see. To follow Him. All of us need each other to help one another use technology in the best way. From a missionary's perspective, it's being "one" as companionships, districts, and zones. From outside of that it's being "one" as marriages, families, and friends. We can help each other be safe as we are one. If there is something that needs to be addressed, we do it lovingly and approach them in a way that they may be unaware of what they are currently doing. Then we work together to improve.
Just because we are living these safeguards, it does not mean that we aren't vulnerable or susceptible to temptation. When we can acknowledge those feelings, choose to act, and learn & improve, we can feel the enabling power of the Atonement helping us to become stronger. So I have created a plan that will help me to be successful at cutting off that vulnerability and susceptibility when it begins. No one is immune to this. The reason why we have been off of Facebook for over 2 1/2 months now is because we are learning how to apply these safeguards to fulfill our purposes in the best way, so that we can be safe. The General authorities have a vision of how technology is suppose to be used and I honor and sustain their vision. We are one of three missions that are learning these safeguards right now. Heavenly Father knew that I needed to come on a mission to learn these safeguards for technology because I didn't always manage my time wisely when I had an iPhone back home. I would waste countless hours of social media when I could have been doing other productive activities like talking with my family, studying the Book of Mormon, pay even greater attention in classes, the list goes on and on. As my wonderful mother who knows best would lovingly put it, "Stop being stuck on your blue faces." I finally see what she saw! But I am eternally grateful for these safeguards and how they have changed me for the better!
"We do not doubt, our mothers knew it." (Alma 57)
Love, Sister McCook