When I was a kid, one of the most important decisions in life was which pair of shoes would I wear. One such occasion, it was time again for new shoes. I remember going to the mall with my Dad and looking for the best, sweetest, coolest shoes I could find. This was about the same time as Michael Jordan was becoming the most famous guy on the planet, and the cool shoe revolution was just beginning. Shoes had gone through the dark age years of Converse chuck Taylors and had blossomed into the Nike, and Reebok world of athlete sponsored awesomeness. I was on point. I would find the best shoes on the planet, and I would use their inherent powers to catapult myself into the dreamworld of NBA stardom.
When I saw the pair I wanted, my Dad looked at them and said, “Um, those are cool, but what about those Michael Jordan shoes right there?” I had looked past the best shoes on the planet, the shoes that the man himself wore while dominating feeble opponents in the NBA, and chosen a slightly lessor known brand known as “Stadia”. That is not a typo. Stadia. I had chosen some shoes that looked awesome, that were flashy, and that caught my eye and had called to me in a voice saying, “I will jettison you into unimaginable realms of basketball greatness”. I then waved off my Dad’s concerned council to “make sure that’s what you want, because those are Michael Jordan’s shoes right there” and doubled down on the Stadias. Good move? Have you ever heard of Stadias? Didn’t think so.
Fast forward two and a half months. Im now on our annual deer hunting trip to the far east border of Utah by Colorado. Tyson and I, still under the requisite real hunting age of 14, are prowling around our camp with our vintage pellet gun hunting for anything that moved. We were basically a two-man Seal Team 6 in training protecting our trailer camp circle from grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, Yetis, and bloodthirsty terrorists.
Then the inevitable happened. My shoes, now a mere 10 weeks old, proved to be worth every penny that was spent on them. I accidentally stepped directly into a cactus, and the hole that had formed around my big toe in the preceding 10 week period of NBA prep didn’t even slow the cactus needles down. I immediately fell to the earth in pain, and hobbled back to camp with Tyson as the first casualty in the war, having been defeated by nature itself. My grandma then spent the next two hours trying to fish out the needles from my big toe all while cussing my dad out for not buying me good shoes.
So, it was then that I learned two lessons. One, you get exactly what you pay for, and two, Its easy to be deceived. Flashy looks don’t always equal quality. I had been deceived and fallen for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Stadia shoes were not as good as Jordans, they were actually only slightly better than wrapping toilet paper around my feet. Those shoes and the Stadia brand then went the way of Milli Vanilli, and faded into the archives of knockoff failures, all while Michael Jordan was winning slam dunk contests and scoring titles.
For us, the principle stays the same. Its easy to be deceived. That is what Satan does. He creates a knockoff brand for just about every good product put out by our Savior. For every lds.org, there are thousands of sites with online filth. For every hymn there are scores of demeaning songs on the radio. For every delicious raspberry, there is a disgusting sprig of Asparagus. For every good influence there are a bazillion awful ones. He tries to get us to buy the Stadia brand shoes so that we will hobble off the playing field with a big toe full of cacti.
Just look at what is termed “acceptable” in our society today in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see Satan’s false products everywhere. Who has the “flashier” more popular definition of marriage? Who has the “coolest” lifestyle? Which type of music, movies, and all types of media receive all the awards from the critics? Who is labeled as the hero between the loving father and the man who decides to change his gender? We are all inundated with endless false products shoved at us from all sides.
We cant fall for his antics anymore. We have to realize that the real truth is the only thing that lasts. Sometimes the truth seems a little less flashy, or popular, or politically correct, but in the end, its the only thing that perseveres. Eventually, all of Satan’s faulty, false, showy, knockoff products will fall apart, and fade into the archives right next to Stadia shoes, Milli Vanilli records, and Asparagus.
The real lasting products that are right in front of us are the scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon), prayer, our families, our spouses, our kids, and the gospel. These are built to last forever, and the sooner we realize that and change ourselves to be consumers of these lasting products, the sooner we will get to experience real happiness that lasts, and become more like the Savior, who is, after all, our real Hero.
D&C 46:8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;