Monday, April 30, 2012

Faith in Jesus Christ

“Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord
Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to
be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand
every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the
Lord Jesus Christ” (Alma 37:33).

I think for most of my growing up years, and the first few years of my marriage after my addiction resurfaced, I thought that it would just take will power to get over it.  I expected friends or priesthood leaders to hold me accountable, and i expected to be able to keep one foot in the addiction by viewing soft-core, or other titillating  material while telling myself that as long as I avoided hardcore pornography that I was okay.

Sometimes the addiction cycle felt like a slow ferris wheel, other times it felt like a tilt-a-whirl, but always i felt like the addiction was in control and that I was at its mercy.

It wasn't until I realized (and I'm still realizing this every day), that I needed to leave myself at Christ's mercy in order to no longer be at the mercy of my addiction.  Today I know better than ever that Christ is in control, if I let him be.  That his mercy and grace are sufficient for me if I humble myself and do his will. If i serve and sacrifice and love and pray and repent and rely on his goodness, then I have the power to overcome my weaknesses, to make them strengths, and to use my own challenges to help others.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Believe in God, Believe God

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created
all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he
has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in
earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the
things which the Lord can comprehend” (Mosiah 4:9).

What evidences of God and His love have you experienced?

I think the love of God manifests itself most often in my life through my children. Each one is a small grace, a perpetual gift form God, a reminder of what it means to be innocent, pure, and utterly good.

I feel God's love through the healing power of forgiveness, the peace that comes from repentance, the cleansing influence of the Holy Ghost.

I feel God's love through the sanctifying process of sacrifice and service. When I visit with someone who is suffering, strugging, or shaking in their feeble knees, I feel the power and love of God reaching out to them, and I want to be there for them.

I feel God's love and power when he grants me opportunities to step up and be better, when he patiently waits for me to come around.

I feel God's love and power in the scriptures that I read, in the sacrifices that were made to bring them to me, and in the words he gave to his inspired prophets.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Self-Imposed Isolation"

"Eventually you will find yourself ready to
kneel and pray aloud. You will find how good it feels to
express your feelings and needs to God. You will feel you
have reopened a conversation with someone who will
always answer you, not always with a yes but always with
love. At last you will begin to experience the healing
effects of breaking out of self-imposed isolation."

Self-Isolation is an interesting concept in light of that famous footsteps poem. I don't think God ever really withdraws from us.  we can shut out the Holy Ghost from our hearts but he is always right outside the door, so to speak, waiting for us to let him back in.  We isolate ourselves by holding up something in front of our eyes so closely that it blocks out the reality that the Savior is standing right beside us. We isolate ourselves by closing our eyes tightly, by turning our head, by plugging our ears, by screaming to be "left alone" because sometimes dealing with the truth seems to hard.

But I think it seems most hard when we don't see hope for ourselves.  If all we see are our failures and mistakes, then its hard to feel God's love, hard to accept that he accepts us, hard to be okay with being human.

Consider Alma's words to Corianton, who, of all the characters in the scriptures, is probably our best example of a recovering sex addict (though there is not suggestion that he was addicted, only that he allowed himself to be tempted away by a harlot--which is kind of how it starts for all of us, right?"

 30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the ajustice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his bmercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in chumility.

I must be humble in order to see God in my life, in order to bring myself out of isolation.  I appreciate that Alma exhorted his son not only to focus on the justice of God, but also on his mercy and his long-suffering.  These are the two characteristics of God that allow the atonement to work in my life, but they are also the two that I have to choose to take advantage of.  God won't save me in my sins, nor will he force me to repent, but he will be merciful when Ido repent, and he will suffer my infirmities, weaknesses, and habits as long as it takes for me to turn to him.

I am turning to him today.

"The action required in step 2 is simply to become willing to practice believing in the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the accessibility and blessing of the Holy Ghost."


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Introduction to Step 2

"As we took step 2, we became willing to replace trust in ourselves and our addiction with faith in the love and power of Jesus Christ. We took this step in our minds and in our hearts, and we experienced the truth that the foundation of recovery from addiction must be spiritual."

Step Two.  I'm here.  I'm not sure I've completed step one.  Being completely honest with myself and with others. I've been so busy lately that I feel very much like I've been going through the motions. Little time for my wife, little time for much of anything except for work and my calling.  I've been able to spend a little time with my children, and my wife and I spend some evenings together, but for the past two months I have felt pretty disconnected from meaningful life...I think I'm just exhausted and I don't know what to do about it.

I'm facing deadlines at work, and stressful responsibilities at Church and I am not getting the sleep I need and I have little patience for my children or for my wife...The ironic thing is that usually this woudl be pushing me to act out, but I haven't struggled with that very much recently either beyond the typical nagging voice in the back of my mind that reminds me I have an addiction.

What I'm feeling right now is different than "going through the motions," because I don't feel like I'm not accomplishing anything, more like I don't feel I have the balance in my life that I need. And of course it is when I feel most out of balance that I am likely to screw up. So, what can I do to get myself back in balance?

I'm glad to be starting step two.  I feel like my happiness, my ability to resist temptation, and my ability to succeed at work depend a great deal on my sense of hope.

I know that I can and should rely on the Savior, Jesus Christ,  to help me through these moments.  I know that his gospel will give me hope, that obedience to his Gospel will secure that hope for the long term, and I know that hope in Jesus Christ's atonement will ultimately save me from myself.

"The tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and . . . the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us” --Elder Bednar

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Lord’s delight

“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that
deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

Honesty is an essential part of discipleship because it is an essential part of Godliness. Honesty is an essential part of Godliness because God must be completely trustworthy (not that its in his nature to be anything other than such. Its a simple fact that if God were not trustworthy, he would cease to be God.  Certainly God is not in any danger of losing his status as God--Honesty is who He is.  And its who He wants us to become.

Think about this...what if God did not keep his promises?  What if we could not trust him. What if there was no law "irrevocably decreed in bheaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all cblessings are predicated" that when "we obtain any ablessing from God, it is by bobedience to that law upon which it is predicated."  God is just because God is honest and true, and if God somehow failed to be honest, he would fail to be just, and if he failed to be just:

  • Alma 42:13

    13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.
And if my responsibility is to be like Him, to magnify Him, and to serve in His name, then it is as much my responsibility to be honest...How can my kids trust me if i am not honest and true? How can my wife trust me if I am not honest and true? How can those I serve, those I call to repentance, those I challenge to make changes in their life--how can they trust me if I am not honest?

So the first step to any movement towards God is to be honest with myself and with those around me, and with God.

Here's to being honest.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Compelled to be Humble

“Because ye are compelled to be humble blessed
are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to
be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely,
whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that
findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same
shall be saved” (Alma 32:13).

The first time I realized I had an addiction was about eight years ago.  I'd grown up struggling with what seemed like an uncontrollable compulsion to seek out pornography, but the idea of addiction had not even entered my mind--not until I was older and thought I'd dealt with my habit.  But then, when I allowed it to creep back into my life and I saw how it was affecting my ability to love and serve my wife, and to care for my children, I had to admit to myself, to my Bishop, and to my wife that I was, and still am, an addict.

I am an addict.

Those are four hard words to say. 

Say them again.

I am an addict.

I am addicted to pornography.

Now, say,

The Savior is healing my addiction.

I am healing my addiction.  The savior loves me, I love myself, and my happiness and peace of mind are too important to allow an addiction to take over my life. 

I think what has compelled me to seek forgiveness has was firs fear that I might ruin my life, that if I allowed my addiction to control me that it would ruin me; second fear that I might ruin my marriage and my relationship with my children; third, fear that I might lose opportunities to help others.

Even now, as i write this blog, I do it out of a sense that if i don't keep treading water, climbing the latter, I'll never get out of this mess and it will dog me for the rest of my life. 

Two years ago, a bishop invited me to go through this manual, and I didn't think much of it.  I had may addiction "under control" I thought, and even with the occasional slip up or 'white-knuckle week', I was doing fine. 

And, ironically, it has been this pattern of being almost out of the water that has finally compelled me to work my way through this book.

It seems to me that there is power in all this self-reflection and introspection.  It's time to be honest about who i am and what I really want. 

Answer: I am a child of God, a husband, a father, a friend, a disciple.
Answer: I want peace, power in the priesthood, harmony, love, the ability to see and feel and hear and touch and taste the world as it really is, not as it appears through the numbing fog of addiction.