Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Have I lied about my addiction?

"Without honesty, our lives . . . will degenerate into ugliness and chaos" --Gordon B. Hinckley•

Oooh, honesty time here...I have lied in so many ways about my addiction, how can I even start..

  • deleting browser histories
  • lying to my wife about time spent online
  • downplaying the addiction to priesthood leaders
  • downplaying the addiction to myself
  • I've lied to myself about what type of behavior constitutes "acting out." 
  • I've lied to myself about the easiness of repenting
  • I've lied to myself about my ability to "control" myself
  • I've lied to myself and about how acting out effects my decision making, my patience, my charity, my desire to love and serve
I know there are so many other ways that I have lied to myself, to others, and to God either directly or indirectly and the chaos it has created has been frustratingly obvious.

When I am preoccupied by sex because of my addiction, I hold my wife to unfair expectations about my sexual needs.

when I lie about my addiction I damage the trust in my relationship with my wife.

When I lie about my addiction I lose the Spirit, lose my priesthood power, loose my authority and credibility with my children.

When I lie about my addiction I feel physically ill, I  feel worthless, and i alternate between hating myself and hating everyone around me and hating hte situation that I'm in and the powerlessness that i feel.

Ugliness is a lack of beauty, a lack of the qualities that induce pleasure, peace, goodwill...ugliness is the opposite of godliness, when I lie, I am damaging my soul, I am weakening my faith, and undermining my efforts to recover.

Chaos is a lack of order, a lack of control and structure, a lack of a plan, a lack of a purpose. God works in beauty and order and lying disrupts both...

"For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments."  D&C 82:14

Part of the beautiful garments of  Zion is honesty--a robe of integrity and truth that can only be worn by those are honest with themselves, others, and God.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"How can your hunger for things of the Spirit help you be more honest?"

When I am honest, I am being obedient to a commandment of God.

When I am obedient to the commandments of God, I am blessed with a portion of God's spirit.

When I am blessed with a portion of God's Spirit, my capacity for obedience increases.

When my capacity for obedience increases, my ability to be honest increases and my communion with the Holy Spirit increases.

So, What are the "things" of the  Flesh?

(Galations 5:19-23) "Now the works of the aflesh are manifest, which are these;

Adultery, - infidelity to marriage covenants
fornication, - violations of others chastity as well as my own
uncleanness, - both physical (disease, viruses, etc) and spiritual (unworthy of Spirit)
lasciviousness, - preoccupation with sexual things numbs spiritual sensibilities and ability to appreciate the world,
Idolatry, - worship of objects other than God (drugs, sex, money, power)
witchcraft, - "pharmakia" in the greek, or "sorcery"  hmm...the use of drugs perhaps?
hatred,  - a numb spirit is a hateful spirit
variance, - competition, conention, strife,  again, a numb spirit is a hateful spirit
emulations, - envy
wrath, - cruelty 
strife, - contention, the inability to work together, pride
seditions,  - to speak ill of someone, gossip, etc..
heresies, - to bend and break and twist the gospel to fit ones needs
Envyings,  - see strife and emulations
murders, - sins of the flesh will ultimately lead to murder
drunkenness, - allowing the flesh to control everything leads to addiction 
revellings, - unchecked, unbridled passions

...
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

And What are the fruits "THINGS) of the Spirit?
But the afruit of the bSpirit is  
love,  - the spirit will help me feel God's love and others' love as well, and it will help me love others
joy,  - the spirit will help me feel true joy.
peace,  - as I feel the spirit, I will receive the peace that comes with forgiveness and the knowledge that I am, at least in some way, living well enough to have the Holy Ghost with me.
longsuffering,  - the spirit will give me the strength to endure through my addictions
gentleness, - the spirit will help me be softer with my children
goodness, - the spirit will make me a better, kinder, person
faith, - the spirit will give me added faith that I can be forgiven,
Meekness,  - the spirit will help me be humble, teachable, and more willing to follow promptings to avoid acting out
temperance - seeking after the things of the spirit will help me be more temperate, have more control of my physical desires

To hunger and to thirst after things of the spirit is to:

Enjoy the scriptures
Pay attention in church
Read the Ensign
Seek opportunities to serve
Choose wholesome entertainment
sacrifice my "natural man" needs for the needs of others
etc, etc, etc

Friday, March 23, 2012

From Insatiable emptiness to insatiable hunger

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before
my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and
supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long
did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did
still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens”
(Enos 1:4).
I have felt bot h the emptiness of addiction, shame, and guilt, as well as the hunger associated with humility, faith, and a desire to do good.  

There is something about the relationship between emptiness and hunger. They are NOT the same thing.  Emptiness is a state of dejection, almost an inverse of constipation wherein my soul is blocked off and empty, nothing gets in and nothing gets out.  With emptiness there is no hope, only shame, regret and a sense of compulsive inevitability.  I am feeling it right now.  I haven't done anything terrible, haven't jumped off the wagon at all, but maybe left me feet dangle of the back, my heels dig into the dirt as we go.  The spirit flees and I am empty.  That is perhaps what it means at the heart of it ...to be void of the Spirit, the place in our body and soul that wants to be occupied by the Holy Ghost is not occupied and I feel empty, alone, not abandoned, but the opposite of abandonment--self-inflicted exile.  I have exiled myself from the kingdom of God.

But Hunger, what is hunger?  To hunger and thirst after righteousness.  This is, I imagine, a spiritual version of the hunger an athlete feels after a workout.  The more one works out, the more one needs to eat, the more satisfying a meal is, the better a person feels, and the cycle continues.

The emptiness of addiction is the emptiness of someone who eats poorly and doesn't exercise. They are always full, but never satisfied, they are always consuming and never getting what they need--their diet leaves them empty because what they are consuming contains no nutrition.

The whole point of this first section is to help me be more honest with myself and with others...so how can hungering and thirsting after righteousness help me be more honest?  Well,  I think that has to do with an acknowledgement of what my spiritual diet and exercise regimen does for me--I need to be honest with the Lord about how I am feeling and how my behavior makes me feel and stop listening to the lies that encourage me to continue destructive, compulsive behavior.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for my weaknesses that help me to be humble.  Thank you for the challenges and opportunities to serve others.  Thank you for your son, Jesus Christ, for his atonement, and for the blessings of mortality, of the opportunity to choose between that which will fill me and cause me to grow, and that which will leave me empty and  spiritually stunted.

My I choose righteousness every time.

-AC

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Recognizing my own Helplessness

Mosiah 3:19 For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the Holy fSpirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchild, ksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

 Why is it always children? Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me," and he also said, unless we become as a little child, we cannot enter the kingdom of God.  My first inclination is to think of the stress my own children cause me and the lack of rational thinking skills and the sense of entitlement that they often exhibit.  But when I look at a child through God's eyes I see innocence, purity, a desire to serve, a desire to love, a desire to be obedient.  i think most o the problems that my children exhibit are less about who they are internally and more about who i am and how my thirty years of negative behaviors, habits, and hang ups have rubbed off on them. And when i think about that I think the only way to make up for it is to love them and serve them and do my best to apologize along the way.

So, if I am going to become as a child (as god sees them and knows them) and not as  child as I see them and know them, that means I must be
  • completely obedient and willing to do whatever he asks,
  • curious about the world and what makes it work,
  • desirous to learn as much as a I can about the things that matter most,
  • willing to sacrifice anything and everything to prepare for the future He has in plan for me.
 A hard lesson for my oldest child to learn is that he needs the experience, wisdom, and knowledge of his parents and that receiving help, guidance, feedback, rebuke, suggestions, or council is not a bad thing....but I think this is a hard lesson for all of us to learn, for me to learn.
Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.

So addiction is my weakness.   God has certainly shown that to me.  So my job is to be humble, and his grace will be sufficient for me.  I must humbled myself and he can make my addiction an asset.  I'm already seeing this a little bit.  I am in such a better place than I was five years ago. I'm not perfect and I still struggle occasionally with the temptation to view pornography, but I have been sober for a long time and I have recently had the opportunity to help a friend who just came out to his wife about his pornography addiction it has been really hard for both of them.  My addiction, though it is still a weakness is becoming a strength in small ways as I use my own recovery experience to empathize with and support these friends.  

I think that in the way that Alma used his past sins to teach his sons, those of us recovering from pornography addiction, those of us members of the first wave of the internet generations who were unprepared for the challenges of the new world, will have an important, maybe even essential role as the Church moves forward in helping strengthen its priesthood and protect its members from the evils of pornography.

I'm grateful to the Savior Jesus Christ for his atonement, grateful that I can repent and seek his forgiveness, grateful that as I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost that I am sanctified and purified before him, grateful that I can, as  I strengthen myself and become converted, that I can go out and help my brethren.

-AC

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Infinite Worth vs. Mortal Nothingness

"Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing i never had supposed" --Moses 1:10

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" --D&C 18:10

How can we be both infinitely valuable to God, but at the same time be nothing?  What did Moses mean when he said the had never supposed that man was nothing?  Certainly it has something to do with the false notion put forth by Korihor that:

"every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime." (Alma 30:17)

At first ring, this line from Korihor sounds right.  We have our agency, we have been put on this earth to use that agency to grow and "manage the creature" inside of us, but the problem with Korihor's philosophy is that it removes God from the picture. We prosper according to our own genius, but where did we get that genius from? We owe everything to God, and are only one small nano-particle in the vast expanse of his creation.

On the other hand, we are created in His image, and we are the crowning of His creations. and his entire work and glory is to

"bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  

So, on the one hand we are nothing without God, we owe everything to him and would be lost with out him, but on the other hand we are the object of his greatest affection, and his greatest project.  That is encouraging.

I am weak, I struggle, and I fail, but when I rely upon the Lord and trust him, I know that I have an unconquerable force in my corner.

That is really encouraging.