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April 19, 2012

Maintaining Fit Spiritual Condition - Step 10

I made a commitment to myself the other day when I went to the meeting that I would like to keep in touch more with my sponsor. I sent him a text and, like always, he was prompt to respond and was happy to start communicating with me again. So begins my dedication to "working the steps" again. I really feel that working the steps of the program is basically "practicing what I preach". Just like I like to practice basketball in order to improve my shot and dribbling, "practicing" using the Atonement in my life is that much more important. The 12 Step Addiction Recovery Manual could easily be reworded to "The 12 Steps on Using the Atonement of Jesus Christ in Your Life". I feel pretty confident that I've finished Step 9 for now: I've approached or sent messages to all the people on my list asking forgiveness. It went well. Never did I feel threatened or was there any contention. I'm sure, as I go back through the steps next time, that there may be people I've forgot or people I need to reach out to, but for now I feel like moving to Step 10 is the right thing to do. I also think Step 10 and my commitment to communicating with my sponsor go hand in hand. Step 10 is about "Daily Accountability" - "Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it." I'm grateful for this clear and concise principle. Everyday needs to be a day or recognizing, admitting, and submitting my will to God by asking forgiveness for errors I've committed.
Self-evaluation throughout life is not a new concept. In the Book of Mormon, Alma taught that maintaining a mighty change of heart takes effort. (see Alma 5:14–30)
I looked this scripture reference up and found that Alma is simply asking a lot of questions to members of the Church:
  • And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye aspiritually been bborn of God?
  • Have ye received his image in your countenances?
  • Have ye experienced this mighty cchange in your hearts?
  • Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who acreated you?
  • Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption braised in incorruption, to stand before God to be cjudged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
  • ...can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye ablessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
  • Or do ye aimagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and bsay—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?
  • Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect aremembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
  • ...can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?
  • I say unto you, can you look up, having the aimage of God engraven upon your countenances?
  • I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become asubjects to the devil?
Those were the questions he asked in sequence. He then answers with this bold statement:
I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be asaved; for there can no man be saved except his bgarments are washed white; yea, his garments must be cpurified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.
And he follows up with these questions:
  • And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with ablood and all manner of bfilthiness?
  • Behold, what will these things testify against you?
  • Behold will they not atestify that ye are murderers, yea, and also that ye are bguilty of all manner of wickedness?
  • ...do ye suppose that such an one can have a place to sit down in the kingdom of God, with aAbraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, and also all the holy prophets, whose garments are cleansed and are spotless, pure and white?
And he answers his own questions again:
I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the achildren of the kingdom of the devil.
Then one of the best questions in the Book of Mormon:
  • And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a achange of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the bsong of redeeming love, I would ask, ccan ye feel so now?
This is the question of Step 10. This is the question of life. Sure, I've done good things. Sure, I've accepted Christ as my Savior. Sure, I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have a testimony of its truthfulness. But what am I doing NOW? How do I feel NOW? What have I done TODAY to either bring myself closer to God and His Son, or push myself away from their presence?
To retain what you have gained, you must stay in fit spiritual condition. You do this by asking the kind of searching questions that Alma suggested about your feelings, thoughts, motives, and conduct. Through daily self-evaluation, you will keep from slipping into denial and complacency... If you feel worried, self- pitying, troubled, anxious, resentful, carnal minded, or fearful in any way, turn immediately to the Father and allow Him to replace these thoughts with peace... Your goal will be to keep your heart open and your mind focused on the lessons the Savior has taught.

How to Implement Step 10

Start of the Day:

As you plan your day, prayerfully examine your motives. Are you doing too much or too little? Are you taking care of your basic spiritual, emotional, and physical needs? Do you serve others?

During the Day:

As the day unfolds, you can quickly stop negative thoughts or feelings that threaten to overwhelm you. Be especially alert for old behaviors or thinking patterns during highly stressful situations. “What character weakness in me is being triggered? What have I done to contribute to this problem? Is there anything I can say or do, without pretense, which will lead to a respectful solution for me and the other person? The Lord has all power. I’ll relax and trust Him.”

End of Day:

Before you go to bed, examine your entire day. Ask yourself if you still need to counsel with the Lord about any negative behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. In addition to counseling with the Lord, you can talk to an adviser or a friend in the program, someone you can trust to be objective about your thinking.

Outcome:

If you examine your thoughts and actions each day and resolve them, negative thoughts and feelings will not increase until they threaten your abstinence. You no longer have to live in isolation from the Lord or others. You will have strength and faith to face difficulties and overcome them. You can rejoice in your progress and trust that practice and patience will ensure continued recovery.
I'm excited to communicate with my sponsor and with God more. I'm excited to work on Step 10. I'm excited to feel the Spirit in my life on a consistent basis as I strive to be accountable daily.

Things I Need to Work on Today

I've felt anxious about proposals and deals that are in the works but not finalized yet. Instead of being excited and working hard, I've wasted time by browsing on Facebook, reading articles and Pinterest updates, and seeing images that aren't pornographic but spark lustful thoughts. I've put off doing specific things I know need to be done, mostly for fear of the result. I'm ready to take the next steps today and get my To Do list checked off.