Monday, October 21, 2013

Step 4: Truth

Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.

Step 4 Reading

Now that I have made the decision to truly trust in God to help me, I am given the opportunity to show my willingness to trust Him by searching my life without letting my fear stop me with rigorous honesty, and no justification.

Someone recently told me that with taking step 4, it's not just about identifying sins. It's about defining myself. I don't just reflect on what I have done wrong in my life, but what I have done right, and what motivates my decisions. In doing this, I identify my gifts and talents as well as my weaknesses and shortcomings.  In identifying these characteristics about myself, and being mindful of my weaknesses, I am better able to strive to align my will with God's, because it's the first step in correcting my mistakes and growing my weaknesses into strengths.

The first time I completed step 4, I tried to do it by listing events from my memory chronologically from the earliest thing to now. It was a huge undertaking. I found some things to be taken care of and learned from it, but I knew I was not done completely because I knew I could not do it all at once.  It would be impossible.  That didn't mean I stopped at this step forever. I did my best and moved on, having faith that the Lord would point out more as I became ready for it. This has happened.

I did the step for the second time by writing names of people and examining my relationships with them. I felt I needed to apologize for things or mend something, or just come to terms with past events.

This time, I wrote in my journal, just pondering particular weaknesses and how it has affected certain people who came to mind once more.  As I wrote, I began to discover that many the actions in my life that came to mind were motivated by a weakness that was because of a strength, or vise versa.  I decided to list my strengths and weaknesses that I have discovered so far.  I realized that some of my strengths sort of compliment my weaknesses, and vise versa, and some of my weaknesses escalate each other. I noticed some things that create cycles in my own behavior. It turned into a learning experience about really how I define myself and what I want to change.

This step is hard!  But I can assure that it can change your life if you take it faithfully and fearlessly as it says.

It is also important to write! Write it all out, even if you are afraid of someone reading it. Writing helps you slow down your thoughts and really proves them to give you a greater understanding.  I also believe that more help comes to me spiritually if I am writing or praying out loud.  Once it was described to me that the reason I felt this way is because the angels would assist me. The Holy Ghost is always there to help. But angels are too. However, they cannot dwell within us like the Holy Ghost does. So they cannot know the thoughts of our hearts. But they can hear us pray out loud, and they can read what is written.  I feel the angels help me a lot more when I do these things.

I also know that writing things down seems to make me take things more seriously because it's out. It's a substantial reality if it's written down in front of me. I no longer can hide things even from myself. The justification stops when I write it down. I can no longer deny what I write in black and white.

Harmful things that are written down can also be destroyed once the step has been completed. Some people wait until after step 5. Then they purge themselves with the destruction of their written inventory. It can be a symbol of the power of repentance to cleanse you. Those things are no more, and the Lord remembers them not.

Be brave! Step 4! Let's do it!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Step 3 Continued: Submitting as a Child

When I become submissive as a little child, it is the same as submitting to earthly parents but different.  Because earthly parents do their best but make mistakes and are imperfect whereas God is a perfect being.  So when submitting to God, I am guaranteed safety and guidance.  An earthly parent may not always provide that.  They may.  But they may not.

Submitting to the Lord means I should not fear.  There will always be love, acceptance, and help given to me from my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  They will never be disappointed beyond their love for me, and they will never fail to be supportive.  I know the Lord understands and I can confide my feelings to Him and feel completely understood.  Knowing He understands even if I don't get what I want helps me to submit to His will because I can know things will work out for the best because He knows.  If He didn't know I was feeling distraught about it, how could He know His plan would bring me comfort, peace, or happiness?  Knowing that He does know and understand my feelings perfectly gives me the assurance that He will lead me into a place where I can be happy.

If I endure it well and submit to His plan, I will find happiness.  Because I know He loves me and wants me to be happy in the end.

Dun Dun DUNNN!  Time for step 4.  Let's DO this thang!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Step 3 Continued: Humbling and Strengthening

Fast and Pray often
to be
STRONGER in Humility & FIRMER in Faith,
Filled with Joy & Consolation,
purifying & sanctifying,
as my HEART yields to God.

Fasting is exercising my ability to put off the natural man.  As I practice control over my bodily appetite, I practice control over natural desires.  I then can realize if I have the strength to fight physical hunger then I have the strength to fight off other natural desires that don't align with God's will.

Fasting also humbles me as I think about the Lord's sacrifices for me.  I also ponder about the need in the world for me to serve others as I contribute to fast offerings.  Prayer during a fast is vitally important.  Without it, I am just starving myself.  The hardest time to pray is of course when being faced with temptation because it's a choice between submitting my will to the Lord or fulfilling that carnal desire.  When temptation gets heavy, I must fight off the carnal desire just enough to pray and I know just in praying...just in that small effort, He would lift my burden.  But the more I pray and follow the Lord's will, the more I will be strengthened in Christ to continue.  I am humbled because of my weakness without Him.  I am strengthened through my faith in him, and as I submit and show that faith, I become stronger.

I need to trust in God to help me not only in the mistakes I am making that I am aware of, but in the mistakes that I am unaware of.  I need to trust that God will give me the awareness I need to fix the mistakes I am making.  I feel like my eyes are opened more and more every day I am working the steps.  Because I am noticing and remembering the mistakes I have made in the past, even the ones I didn't realize were mistakes because I did them in ignorance.  I am making progress, though.  That is what really matters.

I must become more humble.
More submissive.
More gentle and easily entreated.  More patient.
More long-suffering.  Temporate. Diligent. Thankful.

These are choices.
Step 3 is a decision step.  It's where I choose to be better.  It's where I choose to let God help me.  Because it is in acknowledging the help outside of myself that I am both humbled and strengthened.

I should not only show gratitude to the Lord, but to my husband.  Because he really does help me every day.

If I were to choose just one to focus on right now, though, I think it would be to be more gentle.  I need to be more soft-spoken.  I think in turn this would also effect patience and help me to be more easily entreated.  I need to keep my temper in check and stay calm and positive.  Perhaps if I pause and keep tabs on any negativity going on I could curb myself from being harsh and stay in a more gentle state.  Being more spiritually minded will definitely help a lot with this.  So that's what I am going to do now.

I am going to be more spiritually minded and gentle.

Step 3 Continued: Patience

I get really impatient with myself and with the Lord.  Last year I really had a time when I was feeling so positive and I had the Lord's spirit with me constantly.  It felt so good.  I would meet every decision to approach the computer or any task with the Lord by my side.  If I felt at all heavy or if I felt the spirit withdraw even a millimeter, I would stop and re-evaluate what I was doing.  I really succeeded in stepping away from my involvement with the media.  I went a full two weeks last year when my husband was gone on business without watching a single movie or doing hardly a thing on the computer because I was way too busy with other household things.  I ended up re-organizing the entire house room by room while he was gone.  The entire time, I planned to watch a specific movie by myself while he was away, but I never did it!  Because every evening I would just need to get to sleep so I could be up and ready for the next day.  It was all I could do.

After being in that place, when the winter began last year I fell into a slump because I got sick.  I think it was probably that one day that made the difference.  Instead of doing anything else, I sat in front of the television and began watching a new tv show on Netflix that I hadn't seen yet but heard about.  This show got me and I continued the entire day without stopping.  I believe this was a binging moment for me and after that everything in the world got thrown off kilter.  I kept trying to get that same spirit to return with me again as my constant but I felt abandoned.

I was rationalizing my media addiction.  I had been going without it for so long, I soaked it up like a sponge and the spirit couldn't fit in anymore.  I feel like I'm making headway again right now though.  Step 3 is the decision step.  I will be better again because this is where I make that decision again to put the Lord's will first and align my will with His once more.  That's the biggest key.  If I ever start putting my will first again, then it gets off again and I'm rolling away on some distant path where I didn't intend to go.

But this is where my patience comes in.  It isn't all going to happen at once.  If I choose the align my will with the Lord's will, it doesn't mean that magically I will feel the way I did last year again.  It will take time and effort daily to get there again.  If I really look back closely at my time last year, it was the same way.  I didn't just automatically have that spirit with me all the time, it came after I had been giving that daily effort toward aligning my will with the Lord's.  I have to do it and the more I do it, the stronger that spirit will become.

I remember that's how it was last year.  Every time I would follow the lighter feeling (in making a decision between a good thing and a better or best thing) and put the Lord first, letting go of my addictive desire to approach the computer instead of doing the dishes, or whatever...the moment I would choose the better thing, the spirit would grow.  The more times I did what was best, the easier it was for me to feel the spirit prompting me to choose the best option.  Every single day, it grew until I was so happy I felt like I was glowing with the spirit and with my own awareness of God's love for me, and it emulated into feeling love for others around me.

I need to trust God that when I choose the best thing every time He will bless me to feel more positive, happy, and He will bless me with more guidance to succeed as a better mom, a better wife, and a better me.  I need to be courageous and keep trying, even when I feel impatient.  My impatience is only going to delay it more because it's holding the spirit back for me to feel any kind of negativity.

Before reaching for my phone, I need to fall on my knees in the morning.  Before clicking to Facebook, I need to listen to a conference talk on (my new homepage).  Before telling my kids to do something, I need to study and ask the Lord for help to know how to talk to them and what to do that day.  Doing this will keep my priorities straight.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Step 3: Trust in God


Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Step 3 Reading

I used to think that obeying rules gave limitations to what I could do.  It narrows the way in a way that felt like I was being held back.  But then I realized submission to God's will gives one more freedom of choice, freeing you from addiction.  Freedom is used in the reading.  Because yes, it narrows the way, but so life is easier.  It makes the pathway to happiness easier to see.  When you stray off the path, you find darkness and loss, selfishness and dissatisfaction, greed and envy, lust and sadness.  In the darkness, you feel stuck and weighed down.  But staying on that path is where the light is and where you are free to live happily and make choices where you can see, because it's light.

Here is a poem that helps illustrate this concept:

The Disobedient Kite

I once went flying with my master
He took me out on a windy day
He let me grow higher and higher
As the wind pulled me up and away

I pulled on the string he had tethered
Wishing to climb greater heights
I beckoned him softly as to whether
He'd give me my freedom in flight.

He shook his head at my imploring
Stating the string held me up
'But the string just anchors my exploring!'
So I asked again, I wouldn't let up.

Finally he said he would show me
The value in rules he had set
And he cut at the string from below me
Exulted, I leaned, the wind swept

But the soaring expected then faulted
And broken, I began the fall
For the connection I'd found as a burden
Was what held me up high after all. 

 I find it interesting that the word "anchor" is used negatively in this poem.  When in this scripture it's used as a good thing: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with asurety bhope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which chope cometh of dfaith, maketh an eanchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in fgood works, being led to gglorify God." Ether 12:4

Even in just the use of that one word, it illustrates how perspective changes meaning a great deal.  We may think of the anchor as holding down the ship so it cannot go.  Then again, the anchor in a ship is what keeps it safe and steadfast against the storms.

In step 3 we are deciding to act for ourselves by following the Lord to escape the chains of addiction, and be freed.  Regardless of others, I choose my actions.  And if I choose to follow the Lord's will for me every single day, I will be led into happiness.  Sometimes this can be hard, but it also states that all it takes is for us "to open the door to go just a little bit."

I've found that all it takes is just a little bit.  As soon as I try a little tiny bit, the Lord encircles me in His love and encouragement.  He is always there!  Sometimes I have thought that I wanted Him to give up on me because I thought it would just be easier if I gave up and hated myself and gave in to my weaknesses.  But He didn't.  He never does!  He will always be there, even though we are inconsistent and make mistakes and have draw-backs.

His healing power is safe.  I love that "safety of following His way."  But it has to be all!  We have to submit everything.  Our entire will and life to Him, and continually.  It's not something that happens all at once.  I can decide now to do this, and then tomorrow I will have to decide again.  I might have to decide again in an hour, in a moment.  The key is to make a consistent effort to continually submit my will to the Lord's, taking "one day at a time."

"God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

I am in charge of me.  I choose the way I react to every thing that happens to me or around me every day.  No matter what happens, I am in charge of how I react.  If somebody says something rude, I don't have to get angry.  If I feel judged, I don't have to feel worthless.  If I don't do something perfectly, I don't have to get discouraged.  I can choose happiness.

Easier said then done.

But "with God nothing shall be impossible."

Thank God for what you have, Trust God for what you need.

I really want to let God direct my life, but I think my problem is sometimes I want to pick and choose when I allow His influence in my life, when I should have this as a constant.  What prevents me is that other desire for carnal things, not in agreement to God's will.  I must reconcile myself to the will of God and not to the flesh.

To do this, I'm going to follow these steps I set for myself in this post.


I bet some of my readers have been wondering what's taking me so long.  Well, it's because I'm not doing so hot at the moment.  Don't get me wrong, I haven't slipped in the way you may think.  I haven't acted out in any sinful behavior that needs to go to the bishop - but it has been putting less important things first again and getting grouchy.  Today I stayed in bed until almost noon laying there looking at Facebook on my phone or playing Candy Crush while my little ones watched Phineous and Ferb among whatever else downstairs, pouring hot cocoa mix all over the place, and when I got up I still couldn't tear myself away from the computer as I tried to do other things.

That's my slip.  It's probably been going on longer then just today, but today it got really bad.  Of course, it probably was worse because I didn't go to the meeting last night and instead went to Relief Society, which didn't do much for me but educate me a little on how to take good photographs and use Shutterfly for memory making.  I should have gone to the meeting last night.  I'm becoming consumed in my own selfishness.

So this is what I'm going to do. I need to renew priorities.  Here is how.  I am going to take Elder Nelson's advice and decide every day that I'm going to invest in the Lord first.

1.  Every morning when I wake up I'm going to fall onto my knees in prayer and ask the Lord to help me to do His will that day.

2. I'm going to make my bed and think to myself "I'm not getting back in bed today."

3. I'm going to eat a good breakfast and get dressed.

4. I'm going to study a step or a scripture.

5. During the daily chores I will play a conference talk in the background for me to listen to.  If I don't listen intently to the whole thing, I will play it again until I get it.

I did this last year pretty well and got to feeling so much better!  When I start watching out for myself and doing only what I want to do I get really grumpy and I lose myself in media addictions and lose my worth and purpose.  I have GOT to start to really serve my family in the way I should.  I need to put them first always.  I need to put the Lord even before them.  Only then will I start to feel better.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Answers to Prayer

I'm going to begin Step 3 this week.  Before I do, I wanted to put some thoughts out there.

The other day my son was asking me for a glass of milk and I was stubbornly trying to get him to ask the correct question.  At first he of course says something like, "Mom. I don't have any milk!" Of course I'm not going to respond by giving him milk when it's not even a question.  Then he changed to "Can I have some milk?"  I responded with, "yes," but didn't do anything because he hadn't asked me to do anything specifically.  In a way I felt I was being callous because I knew what he was asking me to do but something kept me from doing it.  I had to prompt him in the end to say "Will you get me a glass of milk?" or even better, "Please, will you pour me the milk?"

It's just words, really.  The concept is the same, are the words that important?  After this happened I sat pondering about whether or not I was just being insanely stubborn or if there was a real principle to be taught by being so picky about simple words.

Then I felt the spirit teaching me about how God parents us.

Sometimes when we pray to him, it's not just what we are asking for but how we ask Him for it.  He knows what the concept is.  He understands what we want and need.  But He isn't going to just give us what we want when we throw a fit and say "I don't have this!  Why don't I have this?  Give it to me now!!!" He wouldn't respond to that any better then I do when my son acts that way.

If we just say "Please can I have it?" It's a little better, but still sometimes we might not get the answer to the prayer yet.  It's better manners to say please, but God wants us to figure things out and do our best before He will step in for us.  It reminds me of the Brother of Jared figuring out a way to make light in his barges.  He doesn't simply tell the Lord.  "We have no light.  Make it light in there please."  He goes and figures out a way.  He puts the effort in to hunt down the white stones and then humbly asks the Lord if he could touch the rocks for Him to make the light.

Being respectful is important.  Being rude is never a good idea for anyone.  But being specific about what we want from the Lord and thinking things through first help us to grow and that's what we are here for.  "Will you please pour me the milk?"

It also cheers my heart when my son remembers to say Thank You and I think that's why the Lord really loves it when we show gratitude.  It is in those little seemingly insignificant things like an expression of gratitude or a respectful request that warms the heart and makes me want to just give my children a squeeze.  Heavenly Father isn't that different.

The General Relief Society Conference was this past Saturday.  There was an underlying theme of covenant keeping throughout each talk, and I felt impressed about how to teach my children about the baptismal covenant.  The biggest thing that struck me during the conference, however, was the parallel that Linda S. Reeves made about the Provo Tabernacle.  This tabernacle was burned recently, and the results were devastating to Provo residents because the tabernacle was an old monument of history and was a cherished landmark.  After the fire, however, it was announced that the building would be converted into a beautiful temple!  Reeves talked about how sometimes the Lord allows the consuming painful flames to consume us, just as he allowed this tabernacle to be completely gutted by the flames.  It is hard and it can feel terrible, but it is not for nothing.  Someday after we are tried and tested and given hardships as much as we can possibly bear, we can become more then we imagined before.  Our purpose goes beyond the ordinary.  I was uplifted by the light at the end of the tunnel presented by this parellel.

But even better was that following her talk, the prophet spoke, and reminded us that when we are feeling utterly abandoned and swallowed up in darkness that all we need to do is pray.  He reminded us that the Lord indeed is aware of us at all times and He can give us the strength to endure the hardships we face, and He sends us tender mercies every day to help us get through.  All we need to do is pray, and look for the work of His hands in our lives.

I am so happy and excited for this weekend.