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What Elder Johnson saw in fractal geometry to help conquer life’s daily distractions


Shooting a ball at the wrong basket during a national high school basketball tournament was embarrassing, but it taught Elder Kelly R. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, an important lesson for his life.

“I have learned that I must be careful and not allow myself to become distracted or to lose focus on things that matter most,” Elder Johnson told Brigham Young University students during the weekly campus devotional on Tuesday, March 15.

He explained that before shooting that ball, he had become intimidated by the pressure and trash talking of an opposing player, and he lost focus on more important things in the game.

“If we are not careful, we can easily get distracted and divert our energies to less important things. One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to distract us with seemingly good things that keep us from the best things,” Elder Johnson said.

Elder Johnson spoke about how distractions and loss of focus can occur for various reasons.  Distractions don’t have to be evil to be effective. Social media, busy school and work schedules and other things can keep someone away from Christ and the covenant path. 

“I ask that you consider this question: What are the things that distract you from staying focused on those things that are most important?” said Elder Johnson.

Fractal geometry

When Elder Johnson and his wife, Terri, had five young children, he was also serving as a stake president and worked long hours as a forensic accountant. Every aspect of his life was overwhelming and chaotic, until he looked at his life through the lens of fractal geometry — a concept of never-ending or repeating patterns. He realized that as he adjusted and planned each aspect of his life, his overall life changed and became more organized and more focused. 

“Elder Richard G. Scott gave this powerful statement: ‘We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day,’” said Elder Johnson.

Elder Kelly R. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, speaks about doing things daily to avoid distractions and keep a focus on Christ, during a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Elder Kelly R. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, speaks about doing things daily to avoid distractions and keep a focus on Christ, during a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Credit: BYU Photo

He invited the students to take the fractal geometry theory and apply it to an aspect of their lives. If eternal life is the objective, he said, a person has to start doing the things every day that will allow them to qualify for eternal life: keeping the commandments, becoming Christlike, making covenants and receiving ordinances, and enduring to the end.

“You are at this wonderful time of life where you are making choices and doing things to propel yourself into the future,” said Elder Johnson. “I ask that you take seriously the counsel found in a beautiful scripture, in Proverbs 4:26: ‘Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.’

“I testify that if you will pause and think about the things you really want to achieve in the future, and then begin doing the things that are consistent with that desire every day, you will achieve that desired result.”

Make time for the Lord and follow Him

Elder Johnson said the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has given timely guidance on how to avoid distractions and stay focused on what is most important — to make time for the Lord each and every day. 

“When I hear the Lord’s prophet plead for me to do something, I listen,” said Elder Johnson. “The prophet’s guidance to help us overcome distractions and to stay focused is to make time for the Lord every day.”

The Savior made a similar plea, explained Elder Johnson, in the form of an invitation — to “Come, follow me.” Elder Johnson said it is actually two invitations. The first is to come to Christ, and the second is to follow him. 

Students listen to Elder Kelly R. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, in the Marriott Center during the campus devotional at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Students listen to Elder Kelly R. Johnson, General Authority Seventy, in the Marriott Center during the campus devotional at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Credit: BYU Photo

He gave examples in the scriptures when Jesus Christ asked people to give up something before they could come to Him and follow Him, like in Matthew 4:18-22, when Peter, Andrew, James and John put down their nets and followed Him. Then there is the story of the rich young man, who did not want to give up his possessions (see Matthew 19:16-22 and Mark 10:17-22).

“What distractions do you need to give up to truly come to Him, so you can diligently follow Him? Some may need to give up lusts, some must give up pornography, some perhaps must give up gaming, some must give up other distractions,” said Elder Johnson.

Namaan, in 2 Kings 5, wanted to pick and choose how, where and what could be done to heal him of leprosy. When he finally followed the prophet and washed seven times in the river Jordan, he was healed.

Elder Johnson said: “I want to emphasize that if we truly want to come to the Savior and to follow Him, we can’t pick and choose what we give up. We have to give up anything that distracts us and that keeps us from truly coming to the Savior and following Him.”

Determine what to do daily

Everyone is faced with defining moments in their lives, said Elder Johnson. But they must do the things on a daily basis that will help them achieve those things they want to achieve. And they have to give up those things that keep them from coming to the Savior and following Him.

The Savior’s disciples and followers ultimately had to make a decision regarding the Savior and who He was and if they were going to continue following Him, said Elder Johnson. He said he gets courage from Simon Peter’s answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” for the Savior is the way back to Heavenly Father.

Elder Kelly R. Johnson, center, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Terri, left, visit with devotional attendees at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Elder Kelly R. Johnson, center, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Terri, left, visit with devotional attendees at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.

Credit: BYU Photo

Elder Johnson left the students with an invitation to ponder the direction of their lives and to determine whether they are doing the things on a daily basis to truly lead them where they want to go or what they want to become.

“Determine what distractions you need to give up to truly come to the Savior and to follow Him. Then do those things, and I testify that as you do them daily, you will achieve all that God wants you to achieve,” said Elder Johnson.

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