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August 4, 2014

The Parallel of a New Convert and a Recovering Addict

I teach a local community college, and because my class is nearly 12 credits (normal classes are 3 credits) I have a nearly 3 times the contact with my students as regular instructors. This allows us to get to know each other well and it often comes out in discussion that I am LDS. 

One day after class, a young man approached me and asked if we could talk. He was a new convert (less than 3 months) and was struggling to stay connected to his old friends. This was important to him because his family had not supported him in his decision to be baptized. 

Before he became a member he would go to the bar and drink with his friends and carry on in other like behaviors. After his baptism he found that many of his friends seemed to become distant. In an effort to keep the friendships, he would go to the bar with them but drink water or juice. When I asked him what he was trying to accomplish by doing this, he said “I want to show them I am the same guy as before he was baptized”. 

I then asked him a few questions

Q – Do you feel the same as you did before you were baptized?
A – No, I feel better; I feel that I have a purpose.

Q – Do you now think the same as you did before?
A – No, I am more focused on family and being productive.

Q – Do you enjoy yourself when you are with your friends?
A – Yes, but not as much as before

Q – Do you enjoy yourself when you participate in those old activities?
A – No, I feel like I wasted my whole day, I feel empty.

Q – Who are you trying to convince you are the same old guy, YOU or Your Friends?
A – I guess me.

I then told him “The more you try to convince them and yourself that you are the same old guy, in time you will become that same old guy”.

He looked at me with concern on his face, in that moment he knew that he did NOT want to become that lost and purposeless being again, and he also knew that if he wanted to maintain the change being he was blessed to become and continue to gain the light and knowledge he had been given, that he had to choose to leave that life behind and to become sure footed in his faith and discipleship. 

I told him that, if those friends were true friends, they would be there, no matter how he changed. But if they were not friends and just people that he hung out with at the bar, they would fade, AND he would feel lighter and freer because of it. 

I reminded him that all worthwhile endeavors require sacrifice, but in the rear view mirror of life, we see those things that we sacrificed for what they really were; anchors. Anchors that were holding us back from out true potential and divinity. 

He began to tear up and said that he had known this, but needed to hear it. He was scared and worried, about embarking on this journey alone. He was worried that his family would eventually distance themselves from him as he continued to change and was not sure how to make new friends. 

I reminded him that family was ordained of God and that if his family would not support his journey that God would provide a family for him. I then told him that after speaking with him, I did not think his family would abandon him. I told him “you do not seem to have been raised by people who did not love you, I think they will support you in your decision, they just need time and to see your commitment. And going to bars is not the way to show them your commitment.”

The conversation ended and we went our separate ways till next class. 
He came to me a few weeks later and said that he really appreciated our discussion. He had stopped hanging out at the bar with his friends and all but 2 of his friends had stopped communicating with him. But he was feeling much better and fulfilled. He had also began spending more time at his parent’s home, where his mother would often discuss what he was learning and what he was feeling. She told him that she was proud of him for making these changes and if it was because of the church then she would support him. 

Is this not exactly like our recovery from addiction? 
Do we not try to hold onto what is familiar and fear the future? 
Do we not try to convince ourselves that we can change and still hold onto old habits and character defects? 

For those of us with some distance in our rear view mirror, we CAN ten you that those things are Anchors that were holding us back from out true potential and divinity and we are HAPPY to be free of them.

This road is not easy, but it is worth it.

June 5, 2014

Screwtape Letter About Lust

Disclaimer: I based this letter I wrote off of C.S. Lewis’s novel The Screwtape Letters. For those of you unfamiliar with this book, it is a series of letters from a devil to his nephew about tempting humans to do wrong. I do not own the copyright nor am I making money off of this letter.

My Dear Wormwood,

I was delighted to hear that your patient has developed an addiction to lust; this is a monumental step downward in bringing him to Our Father Below. There are many ways in which you may now play with your patient in order to keep him in this addiction; I will go over these presently for your instruction. Nevertheless, there is always an opportunity for the Enemy to inspire repentance in his miserable little soul so be on your guard.

May 9, 2014

Lust Based Decisions and Resentment Based Decisions

These are two important concepts to remember in addiction recovery:
  • Lust is Satan's imitation of love
  • Resentment is the opposite of love
These two things can cause a world of hurt for addicts if they are not kept in check

Avoidance VS Action

As I have thought on Avoiding our addiction I have come to these thoughts:

April 10, 2014

Unconditional Love and Support or Destructive Enabling?

I recently became a sponsor and it has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It has been an amazing turbo-boost to my recovery and to my spiritual growth and I encourage each of you to work hard to get to the point where you can start sponsoring.

I had an epiphany recently as I was preparing to sleep. Earlier in the day, I had been going over the step work of one of my sponsees and was thinking about it when it hit me. I noticed that my sponsee's work had been filled with very sincere sounding desires and intentions to overcome his addiction and lots of praise and thanksgiving for his wife and kids. He talked about how his wife was so loving and supportive of him, and how grateful he was that she wanted to help him overcome his addiction.

January 28, 2014

Beware of the False Start!

So I enjoy football, especially college football. There is a concept called a false start. In football, the quarterback has to call for the ball before his team can move. If anyone of them move before the quarterback calls for the ball, there is a penalty called a false start. That penalty results in the offense losing five yards.

December 19, 2013

Addiction and The Power of Breaking Isolation

We as humans have many God-given instincts: the desire for power, sex, companionship, entertainment, nourishment, shelter, comfort etc. Each of these instincts if used in the proper way can bless our lives and the lives of others. However, when one or more of the instincts is pushed to the extreme, and abused beyond its natural limits it can become a seemingly uncontrollable force of destruction.

September 29, 2013

Step One: An Ego Busting Experience

Step one only works for people who don't want to fall any farther "Only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength" (12&12, p. 21). This was certainly the case for me. I only accepted step one after a life of losing. Someone who knows what he was talking about said, "you don't land here on the tail end of a winning streak". "Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves" (AA, p. 58).

July 18, 2013

Is the Atonement Really for ME?

"I was listening to a talk today by Dr. Lund, an LDS speaker. Something he said struck me to be true.

He pointed out that there is not 1 priesthood ordinance that is performed for the "masses". All ordinances, blessing and so on are done individually. We do temple work for each individual 1 at a time.

July 6, 2013

Honesty, Confession, Daily Accounting

I have just been pondering my current relationship with God, and been led again to realize that although I have made tremendous progress since beginning this program, I am still leading a double-life! I am still seeking to cover my sins.

June 26, 2013

What is a Character Defect?

What is a character defect?  A character defect, is actually not a very complex concept.  As always it is us that is the one to makes it more complex. 

When I was taking step 7, I viewed it as the big brother of step 3, and thought, we'll I already took step 3, therefore, I've got it....  In my arrogance, I didn't see the heart or the core of it.  In a way step 7 is like a step 3.  In step 3 I made that decision to turn to the Lord, specifically as it relates to my addiction.

June 20, 2013

The Will of the Father in All Things

I recently came across this talk from Elder Holland entitled “The Will of the Father in all things” and thought I would share it along with some of the thoughts I had regarding step 3 when I read it.
First of all I love that he brings out the point that Christ is the perfect example of one that trusted in and submitted to the Father. Not just in Gethsemane but in every day of His life He was focused on doing His Father’s will. Understanding that Christ is the one that was able to take step three perfectly every day of His life helps me in two ways.