Thursday, May 29, 2014

Step 12: Service

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

Step 12 Reading

One of the most important services I can offer is to share my testimony. That's one of the reasons for my blog. however, as I support others, I am only as effective as I am in my own recovery so I must keep up my own progress as a priority and avoid self-righteous tendencies.

I've noticed a big change in the way I support others after working the steps to the degree that I have. I don't give advice the same way I used to do. I don't try to fix other people. My thoughts don't dwell on ways to help solve other people's problems anymore. It's much more peaceful and I can keep myself separated from the drama in other people's lives.

Instead I am able to just listen and offer only things that I feel prayerfully enter my heart and that I'm impressed to say, and even then it's usually not in the form of advice but instead some kind of spiritual thought or personal application of my own that might apply to them.

My recovery doesn't only allow me to be a good support person for other people in recovery, but for all my friends and family in all aspects of my life. I'm a much more healthy support for any situation.

After going through recovery, and as I continue in recovery, I am also feeling more able to apply scriptures to my life on a more personal level. Recently I was at a support meeting and the line in step 11 stood out to me that said to pray and allow my meditation to be guided by the scriptures. I hadn't thought of meditation as a scripture study thing before because I had always thought of balancing the chakra and clearing the mind as "meditation" however, it's just saying thoughtful pondering.

So I looked up "Meditate" in the Topical Guide and found many scriptures to ponder about the meaning of meditation.  The scripture that stood out to me most was in Luke when Jesus tells his disciples to settle their answers in their hearts before they go out to preach because they when they are asked they won't have to think about (or meditate) on the answer. It would already be there. I had heard this before growing up in the gospel, when it comes to avoiding temptation. Already have the answer in decided so when temptation strikes you don't even think about it.  I hadn't realized that teaching was actual from Christ himself.

Then later the same thing, or similar, is said in D&C 84.  "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." So it's another meaning behind meditating upon the words of Christ all the time so his words are in my heart and I am able to be guided in my words when the time comes.

I am converted in a much deeper way after working the steps. It's helped me to use the Lord's atonement in ways I hadn't thought about before and that has brought me into a deeper relationship with my Savior. I love Him more and rely on Him more in my life. I no longer rely on my own knowledge or even the knowledge of those around me. Instead I know the Lord gives the best answers and He will give me the words of support and comfort.  Whatever good I bring into the world comes from Him, not me.

I must admit that I am not perfect at this, however. Even now I slip up and find myself having to find balance again. As I serve others I constantly still need to check myself for any ulterior motives or expectations in my service. When I serve for the wrong reasons, I find myself triggered and trying to turn to my media addiction at every turn. But I need to forgive myself and go forward.

The Savior works through imperfect people. I just have to listen to His guidance and do my best to live so I can hear it.

I think there has been a theme to my studies lately whenever I look into the scriptures. I must need to hear it. Because the last scripture I looked into with this step is D&C 31:11-13 which says "Go your way whithersoever I will and it shall be given you by the comforter what to do and where to go. Pray faithful...I am with you." So not only study and it's given, but go my way wherever the Lord wills me to go. I will be told what to do and where to go as I pray and keep my heart open to acknowledging His constant presence. I need to pray always and do my best to follow Him.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Godly Sorrow: Guilt vs. Shame

I had a conversation with my husband the other night when he had slipped in his own addiction again. He was hitting a low on it, and I tried to tell him not to let it get him down so much but he thought he needed to feel bad, otherwise he felt like he wasn't taking it as seriously as it needed to be taken. I understood what he meant. We don't want to make light of serious things or shrug things off as "no big deal" because that is a tool of denial used in the past before recovery. In recovery we must take responsibility for our wrongs.

But I don't think we need to drag ourselves in the dust either.

Finally the idea came into my mind as an example that I could explain more clearly to my husband. We mustn't allow ourselves to get healthy feelings of guilt for sin mixed up with being ashamed of ourselves. There is a big difference in these two feelings after committing a wrong. One of them is another of Satan's tools to drag us further into our mistakes. The other is Godly sorrow. Can you guess which is which?

I described these examples:
When we feel guilty for our sin, feeling healthy Godly sorrow, we are separate from the sin. Our inner dialog would sound something like this: "I feel bad for doing what I have done because I know it is wrong. I shouldn't have done it because I am better than that. I am worth more than that. I don't want to do it again."

When we cross the line into shame, suddenly our inner dialog is much darker and Satan can use it against us to drive us further into our sins and problems. It sounds something like this: "I feel terrible for doing what I have done because I wanted to do it. But it is who I am and I loath myself because I did this terrible thing and feel like I want to do it again." We drive ourselves into self-loathing so much, while also enabling ourselves and excusing our behavior by saying it is who we are. Satan can take this and drive us further into doing terrible deeds until we hate ourselves even more, hate the world, and do even worse things that we hate.  It's a vicious cycle that I believe has driven people to all kinds of horrible acts in this world, even murder. I honestly think that at one point in a murderer's life they began innocently, but turned to this self loathing or self "acceptance" as some in the world may put it, and drive themselves deeper and deeper into the pit of sin.

I believe my examples hit home to my husband and helped him pull himself out of the despair of shame and into the more healthy light of feeling guilt for sin, or Godly sorrow, which is much more healthy and productive for recovery.

I hope as we all recover we can be careful about distinguishing between these feelings and so we can be kept free from Satan's shackles and remember our value as children of God with great purpose.

I am not my addiction.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Stop Dragging Him and Let Him Walk


I was just thinking to myself about when I was engaged and there was a point when we almost had to postpone our marriage. I remember thinking if we postponed it I wouldn't go through with it at all. I could already sense the hardships awaiting me in this marriage and I was not sure I trusted what I was getting myself into. But I prayed and made a deal with God. He had told me everything was going to be fine and to marry this man. I told God that if our wedding was postponed I would take that as His sign to call it off. But if we didn't postpone I would take that as His answer and the wedding was on.

You see, I am a romantic. But only in my dreams in my head at that point. I didn't believe romance was real. It was too good to be true. So because I didn't believe in it, I thought I wouldn't ever get romance in real life so why try for it? I dated with my head in the clouds and didn't pay attention very well. But I'm lucky I leaned on the Lord because he knew what I needed.

So as you can guess, our wedding wasn't postponed and I married him.

End of story. Happily ever after.
But happily ever after doesn't exist.

I was miserable. There were times I regretted the deal. There were times I second guessed myself.

But just now as I was thinking back at this experience, I was greeted with a very pleasant feeling.

I no longer feel regret, I feel relief.  Because instead of thinking, oh, if the wedding had been postponed, I wouldn't have married him, I am thinking... IF THE WEDDING HAD BEEN POSTPONED, I WOULDN'T HAVE MARRIED HIM!

I have taken for granted so many blessings.

I have been ungrateful, critical, and emotionally unfaithful. So much time wasted in negativity. I envisioned him as a dead weight that I had to drag along behind me. I came up with the metaphor when we were engaged and first married. Somewhere in Courtship and Marriage class at the LDS Institute someone said that when we are looking to get married we look for someone we can walk hand in hand with into Heaven.

I thought to myself after I got married...well, that's a great thought while we are dating but now that I'm married I'm DRAGGING him if I have to! I even wrote that on the board in the Institute building. Silly me.

 That metaphor stayed with me. I continued to be self-righteous. I continued to focus my energy on the things he wasn't doing perfectly. I expected too much from him and not enough from myself. As I envisioned him weighing me down, in actually I was kicking him down and then dragging him across the floor before he had any time to get up.  I never allowed him to stand so he could walk, I just continued dragging him and both of us were tired of it.


If only I would just let go he would stand and walk on his own, progress, and take my hand so we could walk together.

He is his own person after all. I certainly wouldn't grow well by being pulled on so much.

Now I am looking at our marriage and am amazed he's stuck with me so long without giving up and looking elsewhere for someone who would just love him. I'm so glad I'm not too late to be that someone.  I'm going to let go and just love him.  I'm going to trust God can teach him and guide him far better then I can.

After all, that's the way I grow. I can allow him to do the same.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pray without Ceasing, Follow His Will, Step 11 Cont

If I do my part,  the Lord will do the rest.   The Lord is near when I draw near to Him.  If I can make this my daily priority to draw near to the Lord in prayer, then He will be with me always in everything I do.

Pray without ceasing.

I need to put this as a plaque in my wall.  One way to pray always is to be grateful always, for everything,  even things I don't understand.

I just read The Hiding Place,  which follows Carrie Ten Bloom through her experiences during WWII. There is a part in it when she is in the concentration camp and her sister tells her they should give thanks to the Lord for the fleas.  She couldn't fathom a reason to thank the Lord for that,  but her sister insisted that everything the Lord gives is given for His wise purposes.

Later on they discover that the reason they have enough privacy in a certain area for gospel studies and spiritual sharing is because the Nazi soldiers wouldn't go in on account of the fleas! At that time she was able to grasp the Lord's divine purpose and she could say they were a blessing.

I love so much about that book because it has such great examples of faith and truth that pierce to the heart.

But it's true that sometimes we may not see the Lord's purpose in "blessing" us with His "fleas" but we can have the faith to know He has a divine purpose in everything He gives us and we can be grateful for it all.

It's hard to do sometimes.

I love that abstinence is described in step 11 as a form of fasting.  Fasting is denying the natural man and withstanding physical desires. So is abstinence!

Abstinence can increase our spirituality and ability to receive guidance and direction through revelation. And studying scriptures consistently also furthers that sensitivity to the spirit.  We can "learn the language" of the scriptures by studying them every day. Verses can have new and different meanings to each person, each time it's read,  if we are open to allow the spirit to teach us.

One more thing I thought about today with step 11 is that I must acknowledge Him in every good thing I do in this world. Because as I do good,  I am doing His work,  not mine.

Understanding this helps me to understand something I was told as a teen and I didn't understand. We know Christ is the creator of the world because He did the creating,  however I was told that Heavenly Father really created the world through Christ. I never understood that until now.  But really,  Christ was doing Heavenly Father's work! He was being God's hands. I can too.

I must submit to His will so I can be His hands and do great things according to His plan for me.