Laying Aside Struggles

I was traumatized. I wanted to go back to where I was safe. There was too much going on. Too many distractions, too much superficiality, too much envy, too much lust, too much everything.

Those were my first thoughts as I set foot outside of Bolivia, my home for the past two years, and onto soil in Panama. I had a six hour layover there before I went home. And I felt uncomfortable. David Beckham and other big name stars were staring at me, calling me to take part in their “perfect” lifestyle. I saw bystanders yearning to be like them, and entering the stores promising such an unpromisable gift. Those consumers would never find peace in alcohol, or in pornography, or in other momentary pleasures. Those pleasures were just escape routes from facing the present. I will never be like that I thought.

Yet, less than two months later I find myself in a similar predicament. Maybe I am not following Beckham’s footsteps into an expensive store; I stay at home. I am entangled in social media. I am with my hundreds of young friends who find a great way of spending “free time” by taking “selfies” and “Facebook Stalking” friends. I put quotation marks around those three phrases to show the world we take part in. I communicate frequently through a selfie picture that lasts around 5 seconds before deleted. Instead of catching up with old friends through a phone call, or even a lunch date, I just look at all their pictures in the past two years and make my own realizations how what must have happened while I was gone. But really, I simply see my “News Feed” empty of my friends’ accomplishments, and more of their political views. I really don’t care what they believe, but I am still drawn to this site more than I should. And when I’m not on Facebook, there is always Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and a countless number of other websites that scream for my attention. And it’s a call that we must always answer. Not because it’s a matter of life or death, but because it’s what will make us happy. Books don’t do the job, nor does work, nor does anything of today. It’s a facade we all put up. It’s our profile picture. It’s a sign that we have a happy life. When deep inside, we are unhappy. We are looking at our friends’ lives, only to find that they seem to be happier than we are. In reality, they struggle as much as we do. We are all in the same trap.

No wonder the Savior spoke of his message of peace when He was in Jerusalem. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” In another instance the Messiah declares, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).”

Would Christ use social media if He were here? Would He update His Facebook status? Would He Instagram from the Sermon on the Mount? I’m not sure if there is a specific answer, but I think He would do all He could to bring peace to the world. If that meant via a post on Paul’s wall, maybe He would. But I’m not here to make hypothetical arguments like that. I want to change my view of social media. To Emma Smith, and to us as well, the Lord invites us to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better (Doctrine and Covenants 25:12).” And “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Christ understood why He was on Earth, what He was to accomplish, and how He was to do it. That was the motivation to not succumb to temptation. To live a higher life. And since the beginning of time, His mission has been one of not only saving from sin, but exalting to a higher state as well. Christ was in the world, but not of it. I want to be the same.

This week I want to lay down my life in a modern way. I don’t plan on sacrificing my life for someone literally, but figuratively. I plan on laying aside my own struggles, my own pains, my own problems, and helping a friend. That may mean taking a pause from my Snapchats, or from updating my Facebook, and instead finding a friend in need. I want to bring peace to someone in need.

“As we strive to place Christ at the center of our lives by learning His words, by following His teachings, and by walking in His path, He has promised to share with us the eternal life that He died to gain. There is no higher end than this, that we should choose to accept His discipline and bechome His disciples and do His work throughout our lives. Nothing else, no other choice we make, can make of us what He can.” -President Thomas S. Monson
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