Monday, March 22, 2010

Capturing - Part 1

For a description of capturing, see here.

From the LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program Guide Book - Page v

We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious victories.

Anyone who has suffered from addiction can relate to sections of this sentence. I know what great sorrow feels like. I know what devastating defeats feel like. In fact, devastating defeats is the perfect description of many of my relapses. Time after time I have worked to stay sober. Time after time I have felt success and peace as the Lord blesses me with a slowly changing heart. And time after time I have felt completely and utterly devastated when I fall yet again.

But, I think I am focusing on the wrong part of this sentence (as my character weakness of self-pity would want me to do). The great part of this sentence is the victory. These people have experienced victory in the atonement of Jesus Christ. They have felt the sorrow and pain I have felt and have come out on the other side with a tremendous victory in Christ. That is a powerful message of hope.

We who once lived with daily depression, anxiety, fear, and debilitating anger now experience joy and peace.

Once again I love the contrast of this sentence. I have felt all of the emotions in this sentence. I know how painful it is to live in addiction. I've done it for 24 years. It brings on feelings that I can't escape. It makes me feel worthless and useless. More than that, it makes me feel like a tool of destruction. I feel like every relationship I build is destroyed by my actions.

There I go again, finding it easier to focus on the negative than the positive. What is the real message of this sentence? That there is joy and peace out there to be enjoyed. I have felt that too. Anytime I turn to the Lord and experience a period of righteousness, I feel calm in my life. I feel peace. And there is no feeling greater than the gift of peace from my Savior when I am making efforts to live His way.

We have witnessed miracles in our own lives and in the lives of others who were ensnared in addiction.

That is what I need...a miracle. But you know what? A miracle is what is out there waiting for me. It's happened to others. In fact, I believe it happens to every single person who will truly humble themselves before the Lord and turn their live and will over to Him. It is this miracle of healing that I ask the Lord for every day, and this miracle of healing that keeps me going in the face of the devastating defeats.

I believe in the miracle of healing from my Savior Jesus Christ. That faith, no matter how wavering it is at times, keeps me getting up every time I fall.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thought to Ponder

With the help of the Holy Ghost, we can watch over ourselves. We can pray to recognize and reject the first thoughts of sin. We can pray to recognize a warning not to speak words which would hurt or tempt someone else. And we can, when we must, pray for the humility and the faith to repent.

There will surely be some who hear my voice who will have this thought come into their minds: “But the temptations are too great for me. I have resisted as long as I can. For me, the commandments are too hard. The standard is too high.”

That is not so. The Savior is our Advocate with the Father. He knows our weaknesses. He knows how to succor those who are tempted.

- Henry B. Eyring, Ensign May 2006

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thought to Ponder

Any kind of addiction inflicts a terrible price in pain and suffering, and it can even affect us spiritually. However, there is hope because most addictions can over time be overcome. We can change, but it will be difficult.

A complete change in lifestyle may be necessary. We must desire with all our hearts, minds, and strength to overcome these harmful addictions. We must be prepared to renounce totally and absolutely our participation in any of these addictive substances or practices.

- James E. Faust, Ensign Nov. 2007

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Progress Matters

Recovering from addiction is often seen as black and white. We count days of sobriety with acute attention to detail. We talk about our last relapse and work every single day to avoid the next. In many ways that is as it should be. After all, the goal of recovery is to remove this addiction from our lives completely.

But I think an important point can often be missed:

Progress Matters

In my efforts to recover, I have suffered through many relapses. They are always painful. They also seem to be the end of the world at the time. My thoughts are a jumbled mess of "How could this happen...I've been trying so hard...I've done everything the Lord could I possibly be back HERE."

But with the passage of some time, and a lot of prayer and (forced) humility, I begin to understand that I am not BACK anywhere. In fact, I am far from where I used to be. Even in my relapse I see differences. Rather than hiding my actions, I go to a recovery meeting and admit what I've done. Rather than letting the cycle drag me down into months of acting out, I allow the Lord to pull me back up and start moving forward again.

If I look at where I am now compared to where I was four years ago, two things are abundantly clear. First, I have a lot of work to do to be where I want to be. Second, I have come a LONG way from where I was.

Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I am progressing. But it is the very progress that I make every day, the progress which builds my testimony and strengthens my faith, that is driving my recovery.

No matter the change you are trying to make in your life, you will nearly always have setbacks. You will yell at your kids after promising you wouldn't. You will drink that Cherry Coke after swearing off soda. You will not wake up as early as you committed. When you do, the temptation will be to feel like a failure. To say to yourself "I can't do this, why did I even bother trying." But before the frustration sets in, take just a second and think about where you are. If you are honest with yourself, you will likely see that you are far from where you were. You will see something to build on.

Remember...Progress Matters.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thought to Ponder

How do we decide where our repentance should be focused? When a loved one or friend suggests things we need to change, the natural man in us sometimes pops up his head and responds, “Oh, you think I should change? Well, let me tell you about some of your problems.” A better approach is to humbly petition the Lord: “Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?” The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart.

- Neil L. Andersen, Ensign, Nov. 2009

Monday, March 1, 2010

The 10 Lost Years

As part of my recovery I attend LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery meetings. These meetings are a safe place to honestly share my thoughts and feelings with others suffering from addiction, and also to hear their successes and trials.

After one particularly powerful meeting, I was talking to one of my friends from the group. We were pondering some of opportunities we had lost due to being so caught up in addictive behaviors. We discussed the time wasted, the relationships that we never developed, the goals we could have accomplished. Near the end of our discussion, he verbalized the thought we both had in our mind.

"Oh if I could only have those ten years back"

I would imagine most recovering addicts know exactly what he meant by that. There was so much we could have accomplished if we hadn't been spending all our time, energy, and thought to fulfill our insane cravings.

But then it hit me...those ten years might be gone, but the next ten were still in front of me. While I can't change what happened over the past decade, I can change what will happen in the next. The real tragedy would looking back in ten years and saying "Oh, if I could only have those years back."

Isn't that true of any change we want to make? It's easy to beat ourselves up for past failures.

...Oh if I had only started exercising years ago

...Oh if I had only read the scriptures more with my family

...Oh if I had only spend more time with my kids

What has happened in the past can't be changed, but the real issue is, what we will do with the future? Will I work today to overcome addiction? Will I work today to be kinder, give more service, love more, control my temper?

Or will I look back next year and say "Oh, if I only..."