How Accepting President Nelson's Social Media Challenge Changed My Life

by | Aug. 01, 2018

Mormon Life

What originated as a quick and simple way to stay in touch with family and friends over time turned into a distraction from responsibility and a way to escape the daily challenges of a stay-at-home mom of three young children. There would always be another reason to scroll, like, and post; and though I was usually passive on social media, I felt the pull of the “flaxen cord” and seemed unable to unplug on my own. Good intentions evolved into a bad habit of wasting time (2 Nephi 26:22).

I began simplifying my accounts by cleaning up the newsfeed. I followed uplifting pages and made an effort to share encouraging content. Several friends and family members appreciated staying up to date on our life, especially since we have a daughter with special needs, but I was feeling the effects and cares of the world begin to saturate my thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. And though I wasn’t fully aware, it even began to taint the way I looked at those around me, as well as myself. I struggled to see past my flaws and allow others into my life, isolating myself from those I loved the most. How was something as simple as social media influencing my life so much?

My husband and I tuned into the June devotional when President Nelson extended the invitation to take a “seven-day break from fake.” President Nelson said, “I acknowledge that there are positives about social media. But if you are paying more attention to feeds from social media than you are to the whisperings of the Spirit, then you are putting yourself at spiritual risk—as well as the risk of experiencing intense loneliness and depression” (“Hope of Israel," June 2018). This statement hit home and opened my eyes to seeing “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13). Despite my good motives, for my current season of life, it just wasn’t worth the consequences. I was experiencing exactly what he described. Instead of acting on opportunities to do good, I was passively sharing the good others had done. Instead of being present with my family, I was admiring picture-perfect moments on Instagram. Instead of choosing God in my spare time, I was staying in the know on the world. I’d like to think I was oblivious, but honestly, I was probably in denial. It was easier to scroll social media than to work through the challenges life was throwing at me. Unfortunately, the pros of social media didn’t outweigh the cons for me, and it was time to log off for a while to review my priorities. Fortunately, knowing the strength I would inevitably receive as a blessing from following the prophet, I accepted the invitation without hesitation. I knew with the help of the Lord I would succeed, and I was eager to be free of this suffocating addiction.

As I listened to President and Sister Nelson speak that night, I felt a sense of urgency to act immediately. I felt I was standing on middle-ground and it was time to pick a side. I could stay comfortable and continue delaying my progress, or I could take a chance and act in faith upon this invitation from a prophet of God. No matter what I chose, Heavenly Father’s work would move forward, and I was welcome if I desired. With a feeling I couldn’t deny, I knew immediately which direction I wanted to go. It was as if He was saying to me, this is it–this is what you’ve been waiting for. Choose now.

Though I am firm in my faith, I was being reminded, as President Oaks quoted former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, “The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds and thousands of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private” (“Small and Simple Things,” April 2018). We all have room for improvement, and my daily decisions needed prioritizing and my habits needed amending.

I was amazed I could sense results after that first day, but I knew it would become more difficult over time. After all, breaking habits and addictions is a long and painful process. Naturally, I wanted to reach for my phone throughout the day, but I felt the strength I needed to leave it alone altogether. I discovered new ways to use my time and found myself both slowing down and accomplishing more. As I felt peace enter my life again and the world slipping into the background, I knew a break from social media for just one week wouldn’t be enough. I needed more of this peace and contentment I missed so much from my life.

Scrolling through my newsfeed, I felt like I was missing out on life, on adventure and opportunity. But because of my unproductive habits, what I truly was missing in my life was the love of God. I missed His loving guidance and I felt isolated. Now I find myself feeling free from the grip of the world. Unexpectedly soon, noticeable changes came when I was sitting in sacrament meeting a few weeks later. I realized I wasn’t looking for flaws in the social-media-pseudo world but instead seeing our world with new eyes. I am beginning to feel my heart renew and fill with love. My eyes are opening to see beauty and diversity. I feel a greater capacity to serve others and I’m starting to catch a glimpse of my own strengths and gifts as a daughter of God. I feel direction in my life again and the motivation to take those leaps of faith. I’m learning confidence before God is a life of peace and love. I never expected such dramatic changes from a simple social media fast. I’m so grateful for President Nelson’s challenge and the blessing it has been for me and my family.

Lead image courtesy of Megan Barrott

Megan Barrott was born and raised in the South and currently lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children. When she’s not baking cookies or biscuits, she enjoys playing games or Legos with her kids and taking care of her daughter who has special needs.

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