Sunday, December 28, 2008
Calvin Coolidge was known as "silent Cal" and seems to almost be a forgotten president. But he did leave some words of wisdom that have inspired me many times -
"Press on: Nothing in this world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Sometimes persistence is overlooked in our process of personal change. Whether it be dieting, saving money, or the mighty change of heart of conversion to Jesus Christ, we all would like to find THE secret. The one thing that will make the change in our lives lasting.
Quite often there is not one thing. There are many things, that done with consistency and dedication slowly bring about the change we are seeking. I wish my addiction had simply been taken from me when I turned to Jesus Christ. But it wasn't. Slowly, often imperceptibly, my nature began to be changed by my Savior. With persistence as I continued to work the 12 steps, turn to my Heavenly Father, prayer always, and the other small things which turn my heart to my Savior, he changed me.
In his "Parable of the Pickle" David A. Bednar described gospel change like this:
"The spiritual rebirth described in this verse typically does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process—not a single event. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience. A cucumber only becomes a pickle through steady, sustained, and complete immersion in salt brine."
Sometimes there is no secret, there is only persistence. The slow, steady work of the decisions we make every single day. As we climb in the wheelbarrow in these small ways every day, the Lord blesses us with the change we desire, and miracles happen.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I thought I would share the value of friends to the gospel change process. Certainly the support and help we need the most comes from our Savior. He will guide me and he will guide you with any righteous change we would like to make.
With that said, it is hard to underestimate the value of a good friend when trying to make difficult change. Whether that change be an effort to reach out more in service, or overcoming addiction, that one true friend can lift us up at times when we don't feel we can go on.
I know in some of my darkest times of addiction there was one friend in particular who spent the time to talk to both me and my wife. He didn't judge (although he did offer to kick my butt if it would help...), he listened, he comforted, he expressed confidence and love. I am grateful for this good friend.
Perhaps the flip side for me is, who can I be THAT friend for. Who can I lift up or encourage at a time when they need it the most. Am I too busy wrapped in my own changes and struggles to recognize it and lend a helping hand?
Maybe this is part of change too. Going outside myself to be a friend to another in need. It's hard to worry about my problems when I am spending my time helping another.
I thank my Heavenly Father for good friends. And I ask him to help me be the kind of friend who is there for one in need.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
"And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?" - Alma 32:14
Those of us who have been through addiction recovery know very well what being "compelled to be humble" feels like. When we relapse, humility almost always follows. We feel guilt, pain, and shame. Usually we have hurt someone, most likely our wife. Seeing her pain causes great humility. Generally at this point we commit to living the gospel, we fall to our knees and promise our Heavenly Father every sacrifice if he will just remove our addiction.
And we mean it. This humility is real and it is deep. For me at least, it is not a show to make it look like I am trying to be righteous. I am truly humbled and willing to be molded by my Savior.
But...I was compelled to be humble. As the scriptures tell us, this is not a bad thing. In fact it is a good thing. But there is something better. Something that in my opinion leads to more lasting change...
When times are good do I get prideful? Do I start to believe it is my own actions which are leading to my recovery? Do I start to fade in my commitment? Do I fall back into my pattern of wanting to APPEAR righteous, or am I working all the time to show my commitment to the Lord? Are my prayers sincere and heartfelt, often kneeling and out loud?
My commitment is to be more humble all the time, not just when I am compelled. To look at myself and be honest about my humility. When it slips, I will take the actions I can to bring humility back into my life.
Humility is the way to lasting gospel change. Pride is the way to misery.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I teach primary with my wife; it's a wonderful calling that we love. The primary sacrament meeting program was a few weeks ago and the theme for the program was "I Am a Child of God". We spent 10 months singing the songs for the program. I heard the song "I Am a Child of God" so many times I think it was imprinted in my brain. I love that song, I always have...but sometime during the year my mind become somewhat numb to it's meaning. It was just another song we practiced over and over.
As we sat in the primary program, tried to keep our class quiet, and herded kids up to the front for their speaking part, the last thing on my mind was gaining anything new out of this program I had heard so many times.
Near the beginning the entire primary stood up to sing the song one last time. "I Am a Child of God, and he has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear". As I listened to these primary kids that we love sing those words, my heart was opened. I felt the power of those words. I really am a child of God, and he loves me.
He loved me through all of the dark days and struggles of my addiction, even when I seemed to fall every time I stood up. He loved me as I haltingly turned to Him and asked Him for help. He loves me now as I try to turn my life over to Him and become His disciple. I am his child, he cares about me and will do anything to help me with the gospel change I need in my life.
I left Sacrament meeting that day with a new attitude, a new feeling of love in my heart. I am his child and his love for me knows no bounds.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Not that it is any great news flash, but I have found on those days when I don't feel the spirit in my life, when I feel I need a boost, or when I just may be struggling, listening to hymns can be a real boost.
One of my favorites has become "I Need Thee Every Hour". I listened to it dozens of times driving in my car on the way to work as I struggled with keeping my mind on the Lord and off of my addiction. I truly felt it was the intent of my heart to have the Savior in my life and to have him come to me when I needed help. It almost turned into a daily prayer , "Savior, I need thee. Come help me".
One morning as I drove, I had a shocking experience. I was listening to this particular song, I was feeling down, wondering why after all my pleading for the Savior to help me I was still struggling with pornography and lust. I was not really paying attention to the words until the chorus imprinted itself in my mind with great power. "I need thee every hour, every hour I need thee. Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee".
Those words "I come to thee" pushed themselves into my mind and would not let go. I had been thinking of this all wrong! This song was not a prayer for the Savior to come to me and help. He was already there and waiting to provide all the help I needed. The song was a commitment by me to go to Him. If I wanted the Savior in my life every hour, it was simply a choice on my part to come to him every hour.
That message has never left me. The words "I come to thee" have become and important part of all my prayers and the way I attempt to live my life.