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June 21, 2015

Letting Go of the Things I Cannot Change: Identify, Accept, & Surrender

It is easy to get worked up about feelings and temptations. In the early days of my recovery, I often found myself focusing on how I felt, and often, that would lead me back to relapse. I would obsess over trying to find out why I felt a certain way, or why I was tempted by a certain something. Over the years of sobriety, which I found through the 12 Steps, I have come to find more peace through a new design for living. I no longer obsess over my feelings, and I have found relief from the compulsion to act on temptations.

Feelings come and go, and temptations come and go; that is a fact of life! For the most part, I have little control over the feelings I feel, or the temptations that come my way. In the Serenity Prayer, it talks about "accepting the things I cannot change". Can I change my feelings on demand? Not really. Can I change my temptations on demand? No. Instead, what I can do is the following:

Identify, Accept, and Surrender.

When I am feeling all worked up and frustrated, the most important thing for me to do is, first, identify what I am feeling. I do not need to dig deeply and analyze it to death, instead I calmly identify the feeling I'm experiencing (example: fear, anger, jealousy, self pity, sneakiness, pride, laziness, etc). I also try to identify the part I may have played in keeping that feeling around. Perhaps I am brooding or trying to do things my way. Pride is at the root of everything, and it can be useful to trace back my feeling to its prideful roots.

Once I have identified the feeling or temptation, I must accept that I AM feeling it or experiencing it. Most importantly, I try not to label my feelings (or myself) as "bad"... they are just feelings, part of a normal human experience. I am not "bad" for having feelings! However, when I dwell on those feelings and act on them, THAT is when "sin" enters the picture. I try not to panic over them. I accept them for what they are... just feelings, without downplaying them or hiding them. In the years of my addiction, I would often try to deny my feelings and hide them deep inside me. I'm taking the opposite approach now. I must accept that I am feeling them!

Lastly, once I have identified and accepted my feelings, it is time to surrender them. Thankfully, our Father in Heaven has provided a means to completely surrender our feelings and temptations. As I give them to him through prayer, I am given a release from those feelings and temptations as He sees fit to remove them. He has given me a support system of friends, family, sponsor, bishop etc. And I must avail myself of this tool if I am going to demonstrate my willingness to surrender my negative feelings. When I swallow my pride and tell a fellow being how I am feeling, something magical happens. The negative feeling, which seemed to be swallowing me, dissipates like dew in the sun. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

When my soul is packed full of feelings and temptations which are too much for me to bear, I take comfort in knowing there is a means prepared for my escape. When I feel like I need to fight alone, I must turn to others and God for sanity. I put down my right to fight my own battles, and turn the strength and power of God. The secret is this: I do not need to fight my addiction! Christ has already fought and won. I need to surrender to Him, and trust his strength. My feelings are part of a normal experience, but I can drown myself in them through my stubbornness to surrender. It is a constant fight to surrender. It sounds crazy, but it works. I feel safe! The temptations still exist, but the obsession has been removed. I am held safely in his arms, as long as I choose to stay.

Forsake Me Not

My fascination with, and then addiction to pornography began when I was a young boy. It has been a mire, from which I was unable to remove myself until a few years ago, when I finally confessed to my wife and we worked together to rid ourselves of this ‘cancer’. Thankfully, over the past ten years I have subdued the desire, even though there have been times of setback and struggle. Years ago, when we began our recovery process we opted not to pursue the Addiction Recovery Program offered by the LDS Church. However, friends, who recently were going through the same trying ordeal, approached us and together we decided to work through the program.

March 29, 2015

Let Go Without Reservation

I have been part of the program for about 4 years, and have sponsored about a dozen guys. About 1/3 of the guys that I have sponsored have taken the steps and kept with them, and stayed with continued sobriety and recovery.

A recurring theme I have seen in the less successful is something I just re-read in the Big Book: "If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol."

I Stopped Running

I can finally identify the root of my addiction, and how it got started. It seems crystal clear to me now. I doubt I would be able to understand as much as I do without the Savior and a good number of people pointing me in the right direction (or dragging me kicking and screaming in the right direction a few times). It also doesn’t hurt to have a little bit of sobriety, but as it turns out, I came to the realization less than a day after acting out yet again. It came during one of the most incredible, painful, joyous, strange, confusing, and wonderful moment of my life. But first, an explanation.

February 7, 2015

Asking Him to do What I Cannot

I recently realized that although I have been abstinent for almost two years I was still practicing my addiction in my mind. After a confusing relapse I wondering how did that happen I now realize that I was being lustful in my mind. I was not acting out but it was still in my mind Then when life got a little dicey I relapsed. I was devastated. Since then I have learned that it is really lust I am addicted to. So now when thoughts come from daily triggers that are all around I ask heavenly Father to take these away from me and to deliver me from it. I then move forward the best I can to turn my attention else where and soon the feelings pass as I am focused on something else. Now I know that recovery happens at the mental front not the physical one.

Having Hope, Come What May

I am ever grateful for the life we are given to enjoy here on the earth. With all that this life has to offer, either by way of happiness and joy or by the suffering and tribulations that we encounter. All are for our good and learning to become as our Father in Heaven. A while back I started a blog called “Come What May and Love It” the title borrowed from a talk given by Joseph B. Wirthlin. I loved the talk and his wonderful spirit as he introduced me to a concept that I needed in my life. I had to that point in my life been dealing with pornography addiction for over twenty years and until that day I had a pretty bad outlook on my life and future. The mist of darkness was thick around me and I was feeling deep despair until he shared this truth in a story about his daughter.

The Story of Moses and it’s correlation to we addicts

The Story of Moses and it’s correlation to we addicts

As we read Moses chapter 1in the Pearl of Great Price there are several subtle and not so subtle things we learn about ourselves.
1. First we learn 2 aspects of who GOD is
a. I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless

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.

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.