Sunday, June 28, 2009

Addiction is Devastating

In general, I like this blog to be about more than sexual addictions. All of us, whether suffering from addiction or not, have personal change that we are attempting in our lives. Addiction is one of the most difficult changes, and therefore can provide an opportunity to learn important lessons. But, I am hopeful these lessons can be applied by anybody seeking to make a change, large or small.

However, today I want to speak simply and from the heart.

Pornography and sexual addictions are devastating.

...They diminish free agency

...They make the addict feel worthless

...They turn the addict into a habitual liar who cannot be trusted

...They destroy happiness, trust, and support in a marriage

...They spend money with no regard for common sense

...They put the addict at risk of breaking laws they normally would never consider

...They densensitize the mind to the point where disgusting things become acceptable to the addict

...They destroy the ability to have the protection and peace of the Holy Ghost

...They can take away the privilige of sacred God-given opportunities such as exercising the priesthood, taking the sacrament and attending the temple

...They restrict the addicts opportunity to guide and teach his children

...They lead to divorce and a loss of those things that are the most precious in the addicts life

...They often lead to loss of employment

...and perhaps most damaging and difficult to deal with for me personally. They destroy the tender feelings of the incredible daughters of God in our lives. It can make them question their testimony, their emotions, and their trust.

I just want to make it clear. Addiction destroys lives, breaks up families, and reaks havoc wherever it rears it's head. If the fish hook of addiction is stuck in you, get it out. If you aren't in it, avoid anything that could draw you in.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Fish Hook

Not long ago I was fly fishing with my son and a close friend. My fly was floating along the river until it suddenly got caught on something. My natural reaction was to jerk the fly loose. The line had a bit of weight on it, so this little jerk caused the fly to burst out of the water and come jetting straight for my face. My reactions must not be what they used to be, because I soon realized I had a large fly embedded in my bottom lip. A gentle tug on the hook confirmed my fear. The barb was deep into the flesh; this was not going to be a pleasant experience.

My friend and I spent the next several minutes trying to gently extract the fly. We tried pulling, backing it out, tugging with luck...and painful. As my son watched this exercise, he piped in with this helpful thought. "Well Dad, at least now you know how the fish feel."

After several failed attempts, we realized the best approach was to push the hook all the way through my lip, cut off the barb, and then pull it out. With some pushing, a bit of pain, and maybe even a few tears, the hook popped through my lip. We were able to remove the barb and pull the hook out.

I have to be honest, having a fish hook stuck in my lip was not the most pleasant experience of my life.

Do you know how to say "addicted" in sign language? You make a fish hook sympol into your lip and turn your head as if hooked.

I cannot think of a more apt description of addiction than being hooked and not being able to get yourself free. As I think about my experience with the hook in my lip, and the effort it took to get free, three thoughts come to mind.

1) Do everything you possibly can to avoid getting hooked in the first place. Once the hook is in, there is no simple or unpainful way to get it out.
2) If you do have the hook of addiction in your lip, you cannot simply back it up and think it will pop out easily. The best way to deal with it, is face it directly, work through the repentance process, and clip off the addiction.
3) A friend's help in handling addiction is an amazing blessing.

As painful as the hook in my lip was, it was nothing compared to the pain and agony of addiction in my life. Whatever you do, don't get stuck with that hook. And if it's in there, get it out though the love and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Goeth not out but by prayer and fasting

Not long after the transfiguration Christ's disciples attempted to cast an evil spirit out of a man and failed. The Savior appeared later and was successful in casting the spirit out of the man. With a gentle rebuke and in a teaching moment he taught the disciples of the power of faith as a grain of mustard seed. He then shared this insightful teaching:

Howbeit this kind goeth not out by prayer and fasting-Matt 17:21

This teaching seems to indicate there are some problems, some challenges, some demons so great that an extra measure of faith and power is needed. In Jesus the Christ, James E. Talmage teaches this principle:

Have you some besetting weakness, some sinful indulgence that you have
vainly tried to overcome? Like the malignant demon that Christ rebuked in
the boy, your sin may be of a kind that goeth out only through prayer and

I have written about the power I feel fasting has had in changing my life. The key component of recovery and true gospel change is faith in the atonement and healing power of Jesus Christ. Maybe the secret of prayer and fasting is the building of faith that comes through it's power.

I do know that with an addiction as damaging and controlling as mine...and perhaps with whatever struggle you are dealing with...these words may provide the added measure of strength needed. "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting".

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Bucks

As a teenager my dad and I would spend many afternoons hiking in the mountains looking for deer. One day we were high up on a steep mountain enjoying a beautiful day. We walked for hours, saw many deer, and had a great time together. About noon we found a large rock overhang. A great place to relax and enjoy our lunch. From our vantage point we had a great view of a large area. Hoping to see a few deer while we ate, we grabbed our home made sandwhiches.

It didn't take long before two bucks wandered out of the sparse trees feeding slowly towards us. One of the deer was a large, mature buck. The other was much smaller, likely only a year old. We enjoyed watching these two deer for several minutes. Keeping my eyes on them, I shifted around for a better view and unlodged a rock which fell down the cliff. The noise was loud enough that both deer startled.

Then an interesting thing happened. The big deer took off on a dead run. He was long gone before the rock even stopped rolling. But the smaller deer stopped and looked. He looked at the cliff. He looked up at us. He looked at where the rock stopped rolling. He was curious and seemed to want to know exactly where the rock had come from to verify if there was danger.

I learned an important lesson from those deer. At the very first sign of danger, the larger buck bolted. He didn't wait around until he knew things were really dangerous. He didn't take that chance, he was gone.

When it comes to temptation, am I more like the small buck or the big buck? Do I bolt at the first sign something may be dangerous? Or, do I wait around until I'm absolutely positive it's dangerous?

It is easy to look and look and look out of curiosity, wondering if what I am seeing is really all that bad. Right up to the point where I have put myself in a very precarious position.

I would like to be the older, wiser, more mature buck. The buck that knows his survival depends on getting as far away from any possible danger as soon as possible. That's not a bad motto for life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Can't Pray Your Way Out...

It had been a long Addiction Recovery meeting. It was about to close, and I was mentally preparing to go home. The missionary who presides at the group was sharing his closing thoughts. I really enjoy what he has to say, and normally am listening attentively, but this night I was nearly checked out. Then he said something that caught my attention.

"You can't pray your way out of your addiction. You can't fast your way out of addiction. You can't study the scriptures so much that your addiction goes away."

Wait. What?

This seemed to go against everything I had learned and believed. Prayer. Scripture Study. Fasting. Those are the things we do when we are in trouble. I had learned from day 1 of Sunbeams (3 years old) about prayer and how it will bring me out of difficult times. How can he possibly say such a thing? I was mentally checked back in, but only because of my disagreement with what I was hearing.

He continued. "The way out of your addiction is step #3. 'Decide to turn your will and your life over over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ'"

I've heard the saying "Hit me like a ton of bricks" but I never really understood it until that moment. For years I had thought if I prayed enough, if I studied enough, if I fasted enough, if I just did...enough...I would stop acting out in my addiction. Everytime I would fall, I would make a new plan listing all the actions I would take, figuring those actions would save me. They won't. Only one thing will save me.

The atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ.

Prayer, scripture study, and fasting are powerful tools. They are essential and they are commandments. But the reason I am commanded to do them is because they build my faith in my Savior and they bring me closer to the Spirit.

I now view my scripture study differently every morning. I see it as an opportunity to have my faith strengthened so I can more fully turn my life and will over to my Savior. When I fast and pray, I ask for the ability to "yield my heart" to God.

The Savior heals. The Savior is the way back. He is "The way, the truth, and the life." And it is His mercy which heals us from whatever is damaged in our lives.