Sunday, November 16, 2008

What holds us back?

When dealing with an addiction, and from my experience especially a pornography addiction, there are many things which can hold us back from recovery. Therapists or bishops will often advise addicts to identify what items are holding us back, and remove them from our lives. The list may include: the tv shows we watch, the music we listen too, the blogs we read, thought patterns, blaming others for our problems, how we deal with stress, etc.

I spent a lot of time identifying these issues and working to deal with them. This effort was helpful and helped me make significant improvements. However, it took me years to realize what one of the biggest titems holding me back was. The item was FEAR brought on by my past failures.

To illustrate, let me share the endless cycle I seemed to go through. Most addicts will recognize it. Regularly I would reach the bottom, I would get sick of the terrible way the addiction made me feel, and the damage it did to my life and my relationships. At this point I would swear I was never going to relapse again. I would make commitment after commitment, promises to myself, and promises to the Lord, that this was absolutely the last time. It would never, EVER happen again.

I would do well for awhile. I would remember the pain caused by my addiction, so I would avoid it completely. But after a period of time, I would start to be scared. Scared that I wasn't going to be able to last. The reason I was scared is because I had FAILED SO MANY TIMES BEFORE. That was the only thought in my've gone this far before, and you've always failed, therefore you will fail this time. As soon as I started thinking this, my effort and commitment would begin to fail me. Every time a lustful thought would enter my head, it would be evidence of my hopelessness, rather than an opportunity for me to turn to the Lord.

Eventually this fear would overtake me, and I would fall to the addiction. Which, ironically, would fulfill my own prophecy. "See, it was impossible, I will never succeed"

What is the opposite of fear? Hope. Step #2 "Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health."

This principle applies directly to addiction. But I believe it is important for any change we want to make. Does the memory of failure at exercise stop us from successfully sticking to an exercise program now? Does the memory of failed Family Home Evening's stops us from making the effort to get them going again in your house? Does our memory of struggling to overcome anger problems, convince us it is impossible and we should quit trying?

Fear is a tool of Satan. Hope is a tool of our Savior. No matter our past failures, we can succeed in following the gospel of Jesus Christ. He will always be there to save us.

No comments: