One of my favorite books is Ender's Game by Orson Scot Card. In the book, the main character Ender is in a situation where little is within his control. He feels alone and overwhelmed. The adults in charge of his education have him play an adaptive computer game which at one point puts him in an area called the The End of The World. Pondering on the meaning of the name, he thinks:
Perhaps it's called the end of the world because it's the end of the games, because I can go to one of the villages and become one of the little boys working and playing there, with nothing to kill and nothing to kill me, just living there. As he thought of it, though, he could not imagine what "just living" might actually be. He had never done it in his life. But he wanted to do it anyway.
I've been focusing a lot of energy on concerns outside my wife and children lately, focusing on helping tell another story about same-sex attraction and attempting to stop legislation from preveting alternate forms of help for those with those experiences. It's been exhausting. While people have benefited from my efforts, I have felt a lot like Ender recently. I want to "just live" - to spend my time with the people I love, helping my children grow in their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Gospel and in building relationships with my family.
During the October 2019 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I felt a strong impression from the Spirit of the Lord that I needed to pull back from my involvement on Facebook. I was concerned that this would limit my ability to help others, but after considerable prayer, and thought I decided to follow the prompting.
I deactivated my account for a few weeks and stopped reading through posts. While I have since re-enabled the account so I can post articles to my page, I still don't go on and browse through others posts. I've instead been trying to focus my energy on my family and the members of my local church congregation.
In the weeks after withdrawing from Facebook, I began thinking about how my life was different a few years ago, before I had a smart phone. I remembered having to sit down to a computer to read news or look at Facebook. If I had a few unoccupied moments, I wasn't on my phone looking at the latest news or catching up on posts from friends. Instead, I was interacting with people around me or just enjoying the scenery and getting lost in thought. My life was more focused on the things I really care about. I was a lot happier.
In the weeks since this realization, I've made efforts to withdraw further from my phone. To be more mindful and purposeful about the media I choose to consume. That has been a struggle, but I'm getting there. It's hard to break the habit of glancing at my phone every second that I'm bored or want to distract myself. But it's made a large difference in how I see the world and in how happy I am.
It has been an amazing blessing in my life to be able to further open my heart to the people around me. To the people that I care deeply about.
I will continue to write and persuade others to come to Christ, to see alternate ways of dealing with life's challenges, and to share my own experiences. However, I will be more mindful. More purposeful. It will not do to put energy into changing the world at large if I fail to help those closest to me.
I want to live.