Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blessings of the Temple

There is no more tender feeling than the Spirit testifying that this is true. This is real. God and Christ exist.

My husband just came home from his Stake temple recommend interview. Guess what? We can go to the temple together! It feels like a lifetime since we have been in the celestial room together, even though it hasn't been. I have been praying and praying for this. I have been imagining what it will feel like to be in eternity with him, and we are one step closer.

It's not that we get to go together. It's that he gets to go! It's that he gets to experience the blessings of the temple, and we can share something so precious together.

When he came in and told me he got his recommend, I was overcome with the Spirit testifying that this is true. This is real. This is right. And this guy is mine. What a lucky me I am :)

My experience with step 3

"Step 3 is the decision step. In the first two steps, we awakened to what we could not do for ourselves and what we needed God to do for us. Then in step 3 we were introduced to the only thing we could do for God. We could make a decision to open ourselves to Him and surrender our entire lives--past, present, and future--and our will about our lives to Him. Step 3 was an act of agency. It was the most important choice we ever made."

I absolutely love that quote. It is from the very first paragraph of step 3.

When I very first took step 3, I thought I was so ready. I wanted to rid myself of all the negative I had been facing in my life. I wanted to forgive. I wanted to accept my life as it was and take life as it was handed to me. I wanted to have faith in God more than anything. I had faith in Him, but I wanted to have that sure faith where I could trust Him no matter what.

One thing I really struggled with was what it talks about in the second action step: "Change what you can change; accept what you cannot change." I am a control freak. I like things to go my way, and I normally think I'm right (come on, I'm always right ;)). It is really hard for me to have courage to trust someone else's plan for me that just seems so totally wrong. Like seriously, was it really part of the plan for me to marry this guy with this addiction? Was it really part of the plan to suffer this much? (Yes, it was.)

We really struggled. I mean, being students at BYU is tough enough. We both had huge commitments with our majors. We had tons of homework all the time. We were committed to our callings at church. And then we had this to deal with on the side. It was HARD (it still is, or can be, if we aren't careful). Like it says in the first paragraph, when I worked through the first two steps, I was awakened to what I could not do for myself and what I needed God to do for me. This step was beautiful. I gained courage to trust my Father and act according to His will. I tried to trust Him and do what He wanted me to do. I started being more prayerful in every aspect of my life. Like when Husband (that's what I decided to start calling him instead of saying "my husband" all the time) would slip up and I would be left hurting, I would pray. I would ask God what He wanted me to do. What Husband did, I could not change. I had to accept it. But what I could change was my reaction. As I started humbling myself and turning everything over to God (as much as I could. Let's get real, you probably won't be 100% successful at turning everything over to God. The point is to try, though. And there is always repentance when you mess up. There is always the Atonement to lean on), our lives changed.

How did our lives change?

Well for me, I realized where I was being stubborn. As I realized that I was trying to control too much and not turn it over to God, I found my way to humility. I started realizing that He could carry my burden for me, too. It's not all in my hands. I realized that in fact, it couldn't all be in my hands. My life changed by the peace that was brought to me through the Atonement. I would be nowhere if not for Jesus Christ.

That also changed my relationship with Husband. I started trying to emulate Christ more, which brought peace into our marriage. Granted, I was not, am not, perfect. There are many times that I could have been better. But understanding the character of Christ better, trying to emulate that character, and turning my pains, fears, grief over to Him was amazing. I also shared my joys and triumphs with Him (is it really fair to just give Him all the negative?), and that helped me feel so much more pure joy and peace in my life and my relationship with my husband.

I tried to serve more. I turned myself over in prayer and asked what I should do. I always got an answer because there is always something I should do. We found service opportunities together. We started dating again (each other... we started getting to know each other better and open up the lines of communication we once had).

There are so many ways we changed, and it's because I trusted. Had I not trusted, and had he not trusted, we would still be battling each other. Maybe we would be divorced because we would be sick of each other. Maybe we wouldn't be divorced, but maybe we would still have dramatic tension between us, and maybe we would both feel lost and alone. But we don't. We're not. Because we made the choice to turn ourselves over to the Lord. We made the choice to accept what we cannot change but have the courage to change what we can.

I am so happy. SO HAPPY! I have my days though. I'm not always super perky and full of love and joy, but I'm working on it. I know who I want to be, and I can be that person through Christ.

Trusting God opens the door to so many better outcomes in life. He has the eternal perspective. He knows what is going on. Christ knows how to succor us. He knows what we need.

Life is a process. It is a process of doing and becoming. What am I doing right now? I am trusting God. What am I trying to become? An agent in His hands. I am trying to become useful to His kingdom.

This trust, this joy and love, didn't come right away. I learned. I learned and grew through answering the questions and pondering at the end of this chapter. I studied the Atonement. I studied humility. I prayed a lot. I searched the scriptures to find things that would help me trust. And I even when I finished step 3, I still kept my eyes open for things that helped me trust.

Step 3 is crucial to the rest of the steps. Without a foundation and trust, the steps may seem too hard. You don't have to have perfect trust, but you must make the decision to trust or try to trust. When you can trust or are trying to trust, then you have faith that can help you be successful in your journey to recovery.

I love this program. I love the gospel. Without this, my life would be nothing. I would have no meaning or purpose. I would have nothing to fight for. Satan is really trying to destroy us. He is working hard on marriages and families because that is what is most important in God's kingdom. The marriage covenant is what ties all the elements of the gospel together, so that is what he wants to destroy. I'm so grateful that I made the choice to not let him win. He won't destroy me or my family. I'm grateful for a husband who is trying to recover. I can't imagine how much harder this would be if I was on the recovery road without him, but I do know that because of the Atonement, recovery is still possible for those who are doing it alone (so-to-speak. You're not alone, though).

If you feel like you are doing this alone, keep going. God will bless those who seek Him. God will protect those who are faithful to Him.

You all rock!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Trusting in Recovery

I asked my husband to write his thoughts about trust.

Here we go :) I love him!

Trust is so hard, especially for someone who is not trustworthy. For half of my life, I lived a lie. I kept my addiction, my feelings, my fears, my worries away from everyone. I met with each of my bishops during this time, but even then I never really gave them everything. It was hard to trust them fully, because to trust them fully would mean to expose my vulnerability, that gaping, filthy wound that never seemed to heal.

As I first took step 3, it scared me. "[I] was convinced by past experiences that making a definite commitment was nearly impossible...[I] had seen too many commitments broken. [I] had broken too many [myself]." I was absolutely terrified of putting my trust in Him by giving Him my will.


I asked myself that question a lot. And here are the answers I came up with:

1) I'm not going to change. I'm just going to keep disappointing God and my wife.
2) It's too hard.

As much as I hated everything about my addiction, recovery meant more than just abstinence. It meant conversion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a lifelong process. It meant I would need to start putting more effort into my scripture study, my prayers, family home evening, my calling, home teaching, etc.

In short, I would have to become the opposite of what I was. And that takes a lot of effort. It's hard. But when I read this step, this stood out to me: "When we took step 3, we faced the truth that recovery was far more the result of the Lord's efforts than our own. Step 3 was a decision to allow God to recover and redeem us."

I had to read it a few times to understand what it was saying. I thought to myself, so you're saying that I don't need to do this? All I need to do is trust you? Now obviously it's a little more complex than that, but that is exactly what it boils down to. All I needed to do was give God my will and trust that He would change me. So I did it.

And I failed.

I did it again. And failed again.

I don't know how many times I have failed over the years. Hundreds. Probably thousands. But all the Lord requires of me is that I keep picking myself up and trying. He knows exactly how hard it is. And the greatest miracle of it all is that His hand is still outstretched. There's no judgment there. No condemnation. Just love, pure and unconditional.

I've finally got a good string of "sobriety", as we call it. And it feels amazing. I got to have a temple recommend interview with my bishop yesterday, and when he asked me how I've done it, I could only look back to this step. I trusted better. I started doing things in my life to show God that I trusted that His way is the better way. I started studying my scriptures more. I started doing other Gospel study more. I started trying to have more faith, hope and charity. When temptations would come, I would pray and ask Him to take them away. That's all. And it worked. It worked! No willpower necessary. Just prayer and faith. And I love Him for that.

Trusting in recovery is hard. It's hard to trust that God can really do it for you. It's sometimes even harder to want to accept it. After all, you got yourself into this mess, why should He have to be the one to dig you out of it? But that's all about pride, and that's another discussion.

Basically, what I want to say is that, just like my wife has said several times, you have the choice and you have to choose to trust God. And trusting Him isn't just saying the words. It takes a lot of effort. But oh my goodness it's worth it. It's worth having the peace and the hope. It's worth knowing that we're finally growing together rather than apart. It's worth feeling that I just may have a shot at this eternal marriage thing with this wonderful woman. There's a joy with that last bit that is absolutely indescribable. And that is all because I made that decision to trust. Not just once, but time after time until it stuck. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You can find it through Christ

Today at church, I had this feeling that I need to wrap up step 3 and move on to step 4. So, in the next couple of days, that's what I will be doing. Tomorrow, we will be privileged to hear from my husband again. Yay :) Then I will wrap up what I have to say about step 3.

I know that trust can be hard. It can seem overwhelming. But, as I have studied different parts of the gospel, it has helped me to trust. The most important thing that has helped me want to trust and to turn my will over to God is studying the Atonement. The more I understand about my relationship with Jesus Christ, the more I desire to follow Him.

I don't feel like I can really say what I want to say about trust today without simply sharing my testimony. I have a really strong testimony of the gospel. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that God is my Father. I know that They live, and I know that I can live again. I know that I can live with my husband after this life, and that as we keep the commandments and turn to Jesus Christ, we will be saved. I have a testimony of the plan of salvation. Life is hard. It was meant to be hard. We need opposition or else we couldn't exercise our agency. Even though the trials we face can be really tough, we can choose how we react to those trials. There are many things in life that are out of our control. For me, one of those things is my husband's addiction. I can't control it. Nothing I do can control it. I can control me though. I can choose to try to develop a Christlike character, full of love and humility. I can choose to love my husband through this really hard time in his life. I can choose many things, both good and bad, and ultimately, I can choose my salvation.

I know that when I choose God, I am choosing so many good things in my life. I also know that He is always there for me. He always sends me blessings to help me get through the day. I always have little messages from Heaven telling me that He loves me--I just have to open my eyes to them.

I know that I don't have to do this alone. Jesus Christ suffered for me, and I don't have to be alone. He is always there with open arms, waiting for me to come to Him and lean on Him. He carries me. He lifts me up. When I feel alone in every other place in my life, I can turn to Him because He is always there. He knows how to succor me and lift me up. He has felt my pains, and He loves me. 

I know that God loves me. I know that Jesus loves me. This is their church, and it provides the means for me to heal. I am so grateful for this church in my life and for the power of God that has been manifest.

I pray for each of you who are reading this that you can find what you are looking for--peace, healing, etc. You can find it through Christ.

Friday, February 22, 2013

That They Might Have Joy

“Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” -2 Nephi 2:25

I love this verse. This whole chapter really gives great insight into the plan of salvation, namely the purpose of opposition in this life and Satan’s role and why we have agency. It also gives good insight into the Atonement. 

I just love it :)

I want to focus on “men are, that they might have joy.” If Adam had not fallen, we wouldn’t be. If he had not partaken of the fruit, things would have remained as they were. Because of the fall, we are here. And we are here to experience joy. I want to put that in the perspective of what we are going through in our trials and putting trust in God. I’ve had times where I’m not sure if I want to put my trust in Him because I have felt like He has failed me. There has been too much opposition: too much anger, sadness, anxiety, depression. Too much. 

BUT when I have put my trust in God, He has been able to reach into that darkness and help me feel joy. And the deeper my pain, the more great my joy when I find it. We need opposition because it helps the other parts of life work, and opposition is what allows us to actually choose and use our agency. I have felt like I have had much opposition in my life, and it truly is hard to rise above. But when we can look beyond the blackness and reach for the light, then we can have a fullness of joy. And it takes time. It doesn’t come right away. We have to work at it and keep using our agency to make the best of bad situations. But, we are here to be perfected and find joy through our experiences—even the ones with lots of opposition. 

“Men are, that they might have joy.” That is why we are here. We are here to experience joy. We can if we rely on the Savior. If we turn ourselves over to Him, He will help us find joy. We are free to choose liberty and eternal life through the Savior, or we can choose captivity and death by the power of the devil (verse 27). If we turn ourselves over to Christ, even a little bit at a time, He will help us gain liberty and eternal life. 

I have found joy in my life. It comes and goes, but the more I rely on my Savior and turn my life over to Him, the more I find and experience joy, not just in general, but in the times heavy with opposition.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


So today I am reading in 1 Nephi 22, and verse 26 really hit me. It says, ". . . because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power. . ." It's talking about the millennium, but it got me thinking. What if we could be so righteous that Satan has no power over us? Right now. Some of you might think I'm crazy, but I think it's possible. It says in that verse that Satan will have no power because of the righteousness of the people. If I am righteous enough, couldn't I get to the point where Satan has no power over me?

Of course, it will take a lot of work. And maybe I wouldn't reach that point in this life or until after Christ comes again. BUT, my point is, we need to really work hard to become so righteous that Satan can't have power over us. I have experienced that on a smaller scale. As I have grown closer to my Savior, I am less inclined to do wrong things. I still do, but it happens way less often, and the power of Satan is not as strong against me as it has been in the past. As I grow closer to my Savior, I feel the protection of the Spirit stronger than before.

Right now, we are on step 3: Trust in God.

Trusting God is kind of simple (yet so complex, I know). Trusting God opens so many doors to bring the Spirit into your life. This step, step 3, was the step that really opened the door to have more protection from the Spirit. The more I trusted God, the stronger I got. As I trusted God, my relationship with Him grew, and I had the desire to do the things He wanted me to, such as study the scriptures every day, pray with intent every day, listen to the promptings of the Spirit and act on them. Because I trusted God and turned my life and will over to Him, I am experiencing many blessings that I would not have right now without following the Spirit and trusting that He would lead me where I am supposed to go.

2 Nephi 1:1 also made me think. In this verse, Lehi says how great things have come to them because of the Lord bringing them out of Jerusalem. Well, I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for their family to leave Jerusalem and go out into the wilderness. We know Laman and Lemuel struggled with it, Sariah did at times, and so did Lehi. I bet there were even times when Nephi struggled a bit. But, Lehi had faith and took them out into the wilderness, and after years, he is looking back and saying what a great blessing it was and how the Lord blessed them.

How did the Lord bless them?

Well, He spared their family from being destroyed in Jerusalem. He also spared their lives many times in the wilderness: like when Nephi was spared from Laban, when God helped Nephi find food when their hunting tools were all broken, God guiding them with the Liahona, and them being spared on the waters. He also worked miracles through the building of the ship and the revelation of the tree of life. They had many experiences in the wilderness to come unto God and be perfected in Him.

Yeah, their initial trial of leaving was hard, but they gained so much more by following the Lord. They gained closeness to Him. By following that revelation, Lehi received more. His knowledge was added upon. And Nephi also gained much in his spiritual quest while in the wilderness too.

We are all in the wilderness somewhere. My husband is in the wilderness as he overcomes his addiction. I am in the wilderness as I try to deal with my anger and other emotions. But as we trust God (husband turning himself over and seeking help in overcoming this thing that has consumed him for half his life, me turning myself over and seeking help in overcoming everything that is consuming me) whether it's in ridding ourselves of Satan or just by following promptings and revelation, we are added upon. We may not see the tremendous blessings yet, but we will.

Trusting God will never lead us the wrong way.  

I'm grateful that I can look back on all this and be grateful. I'm grateful for the other leaps of faith I have taken in my life recently, and I am already seeing the blessings come from them.

He is there. He knows the way. If we can put our trust in Him, we will go the right way, even if it's scary at first.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Step 3: Trust in God (Part 2)

Key principle: "Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ."

Action Steps:
1. Attend sacrament meeting; review and renew baptismal covenants.
2. Decide to trust and obey God; change what you can change; accept what you cannot change.

In Step 3, we make the decision to turn ourselves completely over to God. We give up our will and follow God's. That requires a lot of sacrifice, but we have faith that He will give us strength. Some of us have trust issues and aren't sure how to trust God. Well, I'd say that is normal.

To start with, pay close attention to the sacrament prayers. During the sacrament, we renew the covenants we made at baptism, and the prayer reminds us what we covenanted.

- remember the body and blood of the Savior (Atonement)
- witness that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ
- promise to always remember Him
- promise to keep His commandments
And as we do this, we are promised to always have His Spirit to be with us.

Something that I love, that I just recently realized too, is that we witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ. We don't witness that we will do it perfectly, rather, we witness our humility and submission to Christ. We witness that we are willing to stand in His name, do as He would do, act as He would act.

Well, what is one thing that Christ did best? He trusted God. Think about that. Think about how Christ came to earth, His role in the plan. Think about all the pain and suffering He went through, and how He still followed the plan. Think about when He was in the Garden and asked God to remove the cup, but then said "nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."

Christ trusted God. Christ suffered more than I could ever imagine. Can you imagine pain that is so intense you bleed from every pore? Can you imagine suffering my pain, your friend's pain, your spouse's pain, that guy over there's pain, everyone's pain? I can't. I sincerely cannot imagine it, nor do I wish to.

Bad things happen to good people. We suffer. It's part of our earthly experience. Ultimately, we need to use those experiences to bring us closer to God so we can live with Him again, and that is what trusting will help us do. As we think about the sacrament and our covenants, and as we try to live those covenants, it will become easier for us to trust God and see through clearer eyes what is going on.

I love that this section says that trusting God is like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing everything with new eyes. It's so true. The more I have trusted God, the more I can see things as they really are. I can look back on my pain and know that without that pain, I would not be where I am. Without my husband's addiction, we would not have the same emotional closeness that we do now, nor would we have the same type of relationship with God as we do now.

There is no one I would rather trust with my life than God because He sees all. God knows what I need to become more refined. And God knows how to comfort me.

I don't enjoy pain. I really don't. But I enjoy joy, and with the greatest joys come the greatest pains. I have learned that from experience. And through everything, I choose to trust God because I know that He is life.

Studies of the Atonement and humility have really helped me find trust in God. I'll share how in my next post :)

*****Speaking of next post... I have had a very big change in my life, and I won't be able to post as often. My goal is going to be a minimum of every other day, but we will see. I'm sorry for those who diligently read my posts every day, but I physically won't be able to do it every day any more. I'll do my best, but just so you are aware. TTFN.

Friday, February 15, 2013

This weekend


I am heading out of town for the weekend and will have limited internet access, so I'm not planning on posting tomorrow, but I will try to Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Broken and Starting to Trust Again

How do you trust when your heart has been broken so many times? How do you turn it over to anyone? Once your trust has been broken big time, it's hard to trust at all.

Why is it that putting our full trust in God is so hard? I think it's because He is so easy to blame. He is the grand master of all. He is the commander of the plan, so when things go wrong, when life gets rough, He is the one we put the blame on. Most of us (I wanted to say all, but realized that maybe some people haven't) have blamed God for our hardships at some point in our lives, and when times get really rough, we don't want to trust anyone, especially not Him because we think He put this burden on us.

My second study of step 3 was a lot more humble and satisfying than my first. After my first time through the steps, I was on a spiritual high. Then, something happened with my health that made me angry at the world and at God again. I just felt like there was nothing for me. I had struggled in my relationship with my husband for so long, and things were finally more up than down, then I got hit with all my health issues and felt like I just couldn't catch a break. At one point, I felt like God just didn't want me to be happy. Thankfully, I didn't get quite so low at that point to feel like I didn't deserve to be happy. Once you start thinking that, it's way harder to come back up.

Anyway, at that point, I had finished the 12 steps a week before, and I hadn't started over yet. When everything happened, and I got really depressed, I realized while in my dark little corner of the world that I could see this medical problem that had me bedridden for a couple weeks as an opportunity to grow closer to God and see what He wanted me to learn and start trying to feel joy again, or I could wallow in my misery and be horrible to everyone and unhappy and not see the light for a very long time. That's really not very appealing, so I chose the first (even though, let's be honest, there is something so appealing about being angry and horrible. except for the fact that Satan's grip gets tighter and tighter and you start losing sight of everything that is precious to you).

I went through steps 1 and 2, of course, but when I got to step 3, putting my full trust in God was way harder than before. I don't really know why. I think I felt like I had tried to give Him my all, and I felt betrayed, even though I knew deep down that there was some divine reason why I was going through these medical problems. My husband struggled with his addiction at this time, too, I think because of stress, and I felt like everything was falling apart everywhere. So, when it came to trusting God, I had issues because of everything.

I'm taking a little break off the 12 steps today, and I just want to talk about what helped me trust God my own way. I studied trust for at least a month. I did the stuff in the guidebook, but I did way more than just the guidebook. Reading through my journal over that course of time, this is how my studies went: Atonement, trust (step 3), Proverbs, grace, gratitude, Atonement, trust (topical guide), Psalm 62, 2 Nephi 2, step 3 again, conference talks, Act in Doctrine chapter 1 (amazing book), gratitude.

My entries about step 3 will include all those things as I share with you what I have learned about trust.

So, here is from my first journal entry about the Atonement (this was in December).

" 'All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Christ.' (That quote was from Sis. Burton's talk in the General Relief Society meeting.)
   Mosiah 24:13-14
   'Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
   'And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs.'
   John 14:18
   'I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.'
   Philippians 4:13
   'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.'
"Atonement means 'at one' and denotes the reconciliation of man to God. When we think life is unfair or God has left us, we start to become estranged from God. We need that reconciliation to become 'at one' again with God and Jesus Christ.
"How can I use the Atonement to make right that is unfair in my life?
     - service to others. Love them as God loves them. Every soul is of infinite worth and is loved dearly by God.
     - keep doing what I know is right. Keep exercising faith and hope
     - pray for understanding of the Atonement, especially for how it applies to me
     - count my blessings and tender mercies"

I love that quote and those scriptures. They remind me that "unfair" things happen to everyone, but if we turn to Christ, our burdens will be eased. It also reminds me that I can turn to Him. He honors His promises. He will not leave me comfortless. And I can do all things with His strength. At that particular time in my life, I needed those promises. Those promises gave me a little bit of hope to trust again.

You know when you are just starting a new relationship, and you don't have that trust all the way? Then, when you spend so much time together, your relationship can grow stronger and more trusting based on the things that happen in your time together? Well, we need to treat our relationship with God like we would anyone else. We need to spend time with Him and get to know Him. I really try to read my scriptures every day and try to take some time to sit and feel the Spirit and know that He is there. Over time, I have developed trust in God because of the time I have spent in His presence (through prayer, studying the scriptures, attending church, etc).

I want to end this with just one more scripture:
D&C 24:8
"Be patient in affliction, for thou shalt have many; but endure them, for lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days."

The scriptures are full of trials, tribulation, and hardships. Nephi, Job, Adam, Joseph Smith, Moroni are just a few. They still kept the faith, and their examples and the words they have recorded in the scriptures help us find God and develop that trust in Him. Eventually, we will be able to do what it says in step 3, which is to turn our entire will over to God. When we trust Him enough, we will desire for Him to have our will because we will know that He will take care of us, and we will know that even the hardest trials are tender mercies because they help us build our character and reach our divine potential.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I may or may not be able to get a good post in today because I have a lot going on.

On this day of love, I just want to say try to make someone happy. Help someone feel God's love, whether it be your spouse, family member, friend, or stranger.

For those of you who are having struggles with your spouse and don't really feel like doing anything special today, I would say do something. Do a small act of service for your spouse. If you really don't want to, pray for God's love to fill your heart and share that love with one who needs it.

When my husband and I struggled the most, and when I really missed what we had (or thought we had), I tried to do small acts of service. It really helped boost me, and it eased tension in our relationship. It helped me develop more Christlike love. I realize that maybe not all of you want to improve your relationship, if that is something that is struggling. Then, maybe your act of service could be to pray for the desire to improve your relationship. Or pray for the knowledge of what to pray for. God will help you if you truly seek Him.

"For God so loVed the world,
          that he gAve
              His onLy
                       That whoseoever
       Believeth In Him
          Should Not perish,
       But have Everlasting life."
-John 3:16

Good song about Christ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1EXpwMbIU0

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Step 3: Trust in God (Part 1)

A short word with heavy meaning.
My husband has broken my trust many times. Every time it's been broken, it's been harder to trust again. Every time my trust has been broken, my heart has hurt more and it's harder to recover.

I reached a point where I wasn't sure I could or wanted to trust God. Because of the many spiritual experiences I had received and the confirmation and witness that I should marry my husband, when his addiction came forward, I went through a period where I wasn't sure about trusting God. I mean, how could He put me through this? I felt betrayed.

That really didn't last too long for me. I can't remember exactly how long I felt betrayed by God or angry at God, but I got over it as I worked on my healing. I received Priesthood blessings that helped me know that God had a plan for me, and I turned to the scriptures and tried to use the Atonement to help me with my hurt.  I studied the Atonement. I studied humility. I studied the Plan of Salvation. I studied faith. I studied hope. I studied charity. I'm still studying those things because the healing process takes time, faith, and devotion.

Thankfully, this wasn't my first big trial. It was by far the biggest, but I had experienced enough to be able to rely on my testimony and belief that everything happens for a reason. Another reason for thanks was that I had written down my experiences as I was trying to decide whether or not to get married to this guy, and I knew that it was of God. And I knew that if my marriage was of God, then there must be some reason why I was going through this with my husband.

Over time, I realized that God trusted me with my husband. God knew that I was the best match for him. And, despite everything, my husband is the best match for me. He makes me better, and because of this trial, I am decades wiser than I would be at my age without this trial :)

We have a choice. We always have a choice. In this case, with whatever you are experiencing, the choice is this: choose to trust God, or choose not to trust God. If you choose to not trust God, you are setting yourself up for a life full of pain and misery because basically, if you choose not to trust God, you are choosing to trust Satan, who is the father of all lies. If you choose to trust God, you choose hope, love, forgiveness (eventually?), understanding, patience, etc. If you choose to trust God, you will find healing. If you don't trust God, you will probably grow bitter, hateful, and resentful.

In step 1, we realized that we could not overcome our trial alone. We admitted to ourselves that we are powerless to overcome this and that our life has become unmanageable.

In step 2, we came to believe that the power of God could restore us to complete spiritual health. That belief may be small, but we have exercised that belief to build it stronger, and we have hope for the future as we cling to God.

The key principle of step 3 is: "Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ."

Like I said, it's a choice. There is a reason this is step 3, and not step 1. We wouldn't be able to just decide to turn ourselves over to God, especially if we have serious trust issues with Him because of our experiences. After realizing we can't do it alone and coming to believe that the power of God can restore us, then we can decide to turn ourselves over to God's care.

The last time I worked on this step, I spent a whole month on it (maybe even a little more). Saying you trust God is easier than actually trusting Him. To really trust God, you give up the only thing that really is uniquely yours: your will.

"When we took step 3, we faced the truth that recovery was far more the result of the Lord's efforts than our own. He worked the miracle when we invited Him into our lives. Step 3 was a decision to allow God to recover and redeem us. It was a decision to allow Him to direct our lives, remembering, of course, that He always respects our agency. Thus, we decided to put our lives in His hands by continuing to follow this spiritually focused program of recovery" (pg 13).

"When we took this step, we felt terrified of the unknown. What would happen if we humbled ourselves and surrendered our lives and wills completely to the care of God?. . . We were convinced by past experiences that making a definite commitment was nearly impossible, given the insanity surrounding us in this world. We had seen too many commitments broken" (pg 13).

It's okay if your efforts are "anxious and halting" at first. That is normal. When your trust has been broken, and you don't really know who to trust, it's normal for you to give trust, then get scared and take some trust back. You might worry that the Lord will be kind of mad for the inconsistent trust. Don't be worried. He won't withdraw His support and love. He will always be there waiting and helping you come. He will give you strength through this process.

As you start to submit your will to God, you will find strength you didn't have before. You will experience love and devotion that you haven't felt in a long time, if ever. You will find peace. You will experience joy. And you will have more hope than ever.

President Packer is quoted in this chapter, and I love what he says: "Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to Him--without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one's agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself and say 'I will do as you direct' is afterward to learn that in so doing, you possess it all the more."

So much good will come from turning yourself over to God. Really, that giving up of our will, is part of the purpose of life. It will help us become disciples and eventually return to Him.

The idea of turning your life and will over to God might seem a little disconcerting. It might be scary at first. That's okay. That is normal. Don't freak out. By the time you are finished with step 3, you will have a stronger trust in God. But until then, you work and find faith and the means to trust God.

I'd encourage everyone to read this step on their own. You will gain much more understanding from the words of the manual than just what I have written here. And, there is so much gold in this chapter. I wish I could just copy and paste the entire thing on here so it's easier access for you. The link to the program guidebook is here.

I'd also encourage you to write down thoughts, impressions, and things that stand out. Act on your impressions.

And, once again, feel free to email me if you need to: alma3441@gmail.com

Till tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Here is a comment someone left on my last post. I want to share it with everyone because it explains a little better what I want thinking but did not put to words as well as this.

"Your deep breathing does more than just getting oxygen to your brain. Anger comes from the primal part of our brains--you know, cave man things. Mad, hungry, fright, etc. Taking those long deep breaths helps calm that part and lets the "thinking" part of the brain take over. Try adding gratitude to your breathing. Take in your deep breath, then as you slowly let it out, think of something that you are thankful for. Or maybe one of those scripture verses you have memorized! It works for me!"

Thanks to the anonymous commenter for your additional ideas!

Last night, for my scripture study with my husband, I decided to read and talk about that last verse I listed yesterday about hope. As I read further down the chapter, I was like holy cow, why didn't I list these verses too? Maybe they just hit me differently last night than during the day when I was writing, but I'd like to share them now.

Romans 8:28-29.
These verses give me hope too. It helps me feel at peace with how I am living my life because I am striving to be the kind of person it describes in those verses. I love God. I try to act in faith and follow His plan. I am trying to be like Jesus Christ. And I know that as I do these things, "all things will work together for [my] good."

Here are some more scriptures that I love:
Hebrews 11:1 and 40 (JST)
James 5:15
1 Peter 1:22 
1 Peter 3:15 and 18
1 Nephi 1:20
1 Nephi 7:12
1 Nephi 10:6
1 Nephi 11:22
1 Nephi 12:17
Omni 1:26
Mosiah 16:9
Alma 31:38
Alma 32:21
Alma 34:41
3 Nephi 12:44
Moroni 7:48
Moroni 10:30, 32

Another long list :) I seriously love the scriptures. I could have listed much more, but I chose not to make you all think I am entirely crazy for my long list of scriptures that I love to turn to.

I might add more tomorrow. I would encourage you to find scriptures that you love and can turn to in order to feel more hope or peace or understand your role in life or something, especially when you are having trouble seeing through the darkness. I love that mist of darkness verse because it helps give me a clearer vision of what Satan is doing to me when I feel like I am stuck in a mist of darkness. 

Tomorrow, I will begin step 3! It's one of my favorites, so I am stoked!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dealing with Anger

I have been asked about kind of concrete ways that I deal with my anger.

Really, I would say that you kind of have to figure it out for yourself, but this is what I do, and you can use any of these ideas to help.

In the moment, I have to pause, and take deep breaths. When I get overcome with anger, it's some serious rage. Even the little things come with serious rage sometimes. Taking deep breaths helps get oxygen to my brain, and I can think a little clearer. I ask myself why I am mad, and is it worth it to stay mad? Sometimes, I decide it's worth it to stay mad for selfish reasons: I want my husband (or whoever) to really know that they hurt me, I want to make that person feel guilty, or I am too lazy to try to fight off the anger. Those three things are all qualities of Satan. When I am angry, I act like Satan. Wow. When I realized that for the first time, I got really depressed. Don't get depressed. It's part of the cycle of healing. Anger is normal. But, it's good to recognize the negative aspects of anger and try to overcome it.

If I have time and access, I write in my angry journal. Yes, angry journal. In this journal, I can write whatever I want. My husband will never see it. I might even burn it so my posterity can't ever see it. But this journal lets me rant out what I want to get out, AND, usually when I am finished writing, I realize that the reason I am mad or the way I am acting is stupid. Writing is so therapeutic for me. Writing helps me reason and understand myself. If you are artistic, you could do an art journal to express yourself that way.  Or both.

Praying is another crucial thing. Like I have said before, anger is kind of an addiction for me. When my husband is tempted with his addiction, he prays and asks God to help him fight it or to remove it for him. So, I have been really trying to do the same thing with my anger. It lets God see my submission, faith, and trust in Him. 

I also (somewhere) have a list of scriptures that help give me peace. So I can turn to them and find help that way. Or, I just open my scriptures and read the ones that are marked until I find something that really helps.

I started making a list of my favorite scriptures to post on here, but it is so long. So, here are some, and I'll add more tomorrow. These aren't necessarily specific to anger, but they give me hope and peace in general (and some are specific to anger too).

Psalms 27:1
Psalms 31:24
Proverbs 3:5
Proverbs 13:10
Proverbs 16:32
Proverbs 17:22
Mark 14:36
Luke 22:42
John 3:16-17
John 14:27
Romans 5 (the whole chapter is great, but the beginning through verse 11 is my favorite)
Romans 8:24-25

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Christ is on Our Side

Today, as we were meeting with our Bishop, I looked over at my husband, and behind him on the wall was that picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I was looking at him because I was focusing on what he was saying, but then that focus disappeared as that image of Christ came to full view in my mind. It hit me like it never has before. On His face, there seems to be a pleading expression.

I was reminded of that scripture that says Christ is our advocate with the Father and pleads our cause before Him (see D&C 45:3-5).

At that moment, I was overcome with love for my husband, and the love that the Father has for my husband and for me. Christ suffered for our sins and pains, and His Atonement allows us to be able to return to the kingdom of God again. He wants us to return to Him, and each thing we do to repent and be made whole is a little victory. Christ is on our side. We just have to find Him.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Step 2: Hope (Part 4/4)

Key Principle: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health. 

Action Steps
1. Pray; read and ponder the scriptures.
2. Believe in God the Eternal Father and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

"The action required in step 2 is simply to become willing to practice believing in the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the accessibility and blessing of the Holy Ghost. Our testimonies are that you can come to know the perfectly united love of the Godhead by watching for evidence of Their love and power in your life an in the lives of other" (emphasis added, pg 8).

Become willing to practice.

That's not too hard, right? I can become willing to practice believing.

Yesterday, I talked about Alma chapter 32 and how he asked the people to experiment upon his words. Well, I'd issue the same idea/challenge today. Experiment discovering and believing in the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Experiment discovering and believing in the accessibility and blessing of the Holy Ghost. Watch for evidence of their love and power.

There are many witnesses in heaven and in earth that testify of God and His Son.
What evidence can you find of them and their love for you?

For me, its the tender mercies. It's the sweet feelings of peace I have when I pour out my heart to God in prayer, and I sob through my prayer because of the pain I have felt. He always sends me sweet relief to let me know He is there. It's my dog knowing when I am sad and coming to cuddle with me. It's promptings I receive and follow to serve someone, and that someone ends up serving me. It's the teenagers in our ward who I see setting a good example to their peers (and to me). It's the words of the hymns that touch me like never before. It's the realization of the Atonement.

There are so many things in my life that I can say yes, that is evidence of a divine being who loves me.

A missionary for the Addiction Recovery Program challenged me to list five things I am grateful for every day for thirty days. That is finding 150 things I am grateful for in a month. When I did that, I realized how blessed I am (and yes, I did include things like I am grateful for the brownie I just ate because it was so delicious). If you are having trouble finding how much you are blessed, try that. Or just try finding three things each day.

Pray. Read and ponder the scriptures. Become willing to practice believing in the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. These things will help soften your heart, develop humility, and open the door to trusting the Lord. These things will bring you hope, or open the door for hope.

If you need to, go to arp.lds.org and find the program guide. Do the study and understanding for step 2. Take your time. Put in some thought and prayer. Open the door for the Holy Ghost to guide you. You will be blessed. Start recognizing the tender mercies of the Lord, and you will see how much He does love you.

I can't wait to start step 3!

Remember, take your time. Go at your own pace. Things might feel slow, but Heavenly Father knows how to help you, and only He can help heal you of the pain you are suffering.

Website and Books to Check Out

Someone left a comment on my first post, and I wanted to share the information with you.

First, take a look at this website. I especially found the Q&A page helpful, and I'm interested in reading her new book, What Can I Do about Him Me? Here is the link to the Q&A page, but please browse the website: http://rhyllrecovery.com/category/q_a/

Second, I should have mentioned this sooner, but there is a book called He Restoreth My Soul. It's really good. My husband read it, and he said it helped him understand himself and his addiction better. I started it not too long ago, so I don't have as much experience with it. But it has also helped me understand what is going on a little better. and having a better understanding has helped me deal with my life better. When I have said there are so many chemical things going on in the brain and other things like that, that information has come from this book, and it's in much better detail than how I just say "chemical things." Haha.
***This book is specific to pornography (The full title is He Restoreth My Soul: Understanding and Breaking the Chemical and Spiritual Chains of Pornography Addiction Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ)

Next post on step 2 to come shortly :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Step 2: Hope (Part 3/4)

Key Principle: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health. 

There are two action steps listed for this step.
1. Pray; read and ponder the scriptures.
2. Believe in God the Eternal Father and in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

In step 1, you admit your need for help. You admit that you can't do this alone.

That could leave you feeling a little hopeless, could it not?

In step 2, you get to "come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health." How do you come to believe that?

One way is through prayer. If you aren't accustomed to prayer, it could be a weird or unique concept. You get on your knees, fold your arms, bow your head, and speak to a divine being, whom you can't see and you might not even be sure He exists. It might feel awkward at first, but that divine being exists and He hears you. He is actually waiting for you to come to Him and pour out your heart to Him. If you aren't a firm believer in God, this is how I picture Him. Imagine the most glorious being you can. Imagine the most loving person you can. Combine the two. What do you feel? God is the most loving Father you will ever know. He knows exactly what you need, and He wants more than anything to give it to you. When I realize that I haven't prayed a really heartfelt prayer in a while, I can imagine Him sitting up there just waiting for me and getting so excited when I come back to Him.

I know that praying can be hard. Sometimes, you don't get answers right away. Sometimes you don't get answers you want. Sometimes, you feel like there is no point in praying because He should know what is going on, and He should know what you need. Sometimes you are too angry to pray. I know. I have felt all of that. But, prayer is so important. It is through prayer that I have come to know God and how much He loves me.

Prayer has given me answers to my problems.
Prayer has given me patience.
Prayer has given me peace.
Prayer has let me know that I am not alone.
Prayer has let me feel love when I felt the least deserving and the most lonely.
Prayer has helped me know what to do in tough situations.
Prayer has led me to people I need to meet.
Prayer has led me to answers in the scriptures.
Prayer has led me to find peace in the scriptures.

Prayer is beautiful.

In Alma 32, Alma is teaching the poor who have suffered many afflictions and are humble. Not only were they "poor as to things of the world," they are described as "poor in heart." To me, that means that they were a little lacking in love. They didn't feel loved, and their hearts were broken at the way they had been treated. They needed some rejuvenation and hope in their lives.

They came to Alma and asked what they should do: "Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast  us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no  place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?"

Can you even imagine what those people must have felt like? They were despised because of their poverty. I don't think I could handle feeling despised. That is a very strong word full of hatred and loathing. They were especially despised by their priests. Aren't priests supposed to be good people? Even the good people despised them. These people were cast out of their synagogues, which they had helped build. They had no place to worship their God. They might have felt like they had lost everything, and they certainly felt unloved.

Then, Alma said, "I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye."

What? Blessed? Me? Because I am lowly in heart? I bet that made them perk up a little bit. I bet that gave them the spark of hope to hold on to.

He tells them that through this situation, they can learn wisdom. They can repent and come unto God. They can be humble, and their humility can help them be saved at the last day. Talk about being stuck in darkness and finding a light to follow.

Verse 21 begins the real hopeful scriptures for me.
Alma says if we have faith, we hope for things that we can't see, but are true.
"God is merciful unto all those who believe on his name."
God desires us to believe.

Then he says, let's do a little experiment. Are you feeling experimental? I hope so.
(verse 27) "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desure to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."

I would say for us: if you can no more than desire to believe, or to hope, let this desire, or hope, work in you until you believe in such a way that will make room in your heart for some of the Lord's fulness. I would say to practice prayer. If you have even a small desire to find God, to find hope, peace, and joy, experiment upon Alma's words. Experiment with prayer. Experiment with hope. Experiment with studying the scriptures, and you will be blessed. As you feel the love of God envelope you, let it come. Keep working at it.

I said in a previous post, well I quoted it actually, the 12 steps are steps of action. If you truly want to recover, put in a little action. Exercise faith and hope. Pray. Read the scriptures. I would encourage you to read Alma chapters 32 and 34. Those are my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon, especially in times when I desperately need hope. 

In the rest of chapter 32, Alma describes how exercising a little particle of faith can grow. It's truly beautiful, and I really encourage you to read it. Even if you are very familiar with this chapter, read it again. Pray before you read it, and ask God to show you what you need to know for your life. And read chapter 34. It is my favorite of all time.

The other part of this action step, which I have mentioned, is to read and ponder the scriptures. There are verses listed in this chapter in the study and understanding section for you to read and ponder. You can start there if you are lacking in motivation to really dive into the scriptures. As you become more comfortable with your relationship with God, dive into the scriptures. Maybe you could start a scripture journal. I have one. I write in it every time I study the scriptures. For one thing, it helps me focus on what I am reading better. For another thing, it helps me to have something to write on available when the Holy Ghost speaks to me and gives me promptings for my life.

As you pray and read and ponder the scriptures, you will open the door for the Holy Ghost to dwell with you more consistently. He will give you hope. The words of the scriptures will give you hope. You will find verses that you love and can turn to in any time of need. That's what Alma 34:41 is for me, which is why I chose it as my username for this blog.

You will find hope if you open the door and let it in.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


In the Hunger Games, President Snow tells the gamemaker that there is one thing more powerful than fear: hope.

What is hope?

It's an emotional state that allows one to believe that good will come out of certain circumstances in life. In the Hunger Games, there was the little hope that you could live, that you could be the winner. Prim had hope that Katniss could win. Katniss had hope for Prim's future when she volunteered for her. Peeta had hope that he could help Katniss live. Later in the story, they had hope that they could overcome the evil that had taken over their government. In each of these instances, they all feared. But hope overrode their fear. Without hope, they wouldn't have pushed onward.

I have hope.

I only wish I could tell you everything that has happened in the last two years. It's kind of miserable. There have been times where I feel very little or no hope and I don't know how to go on.

I have hope that I will find and maintain peace and healing in my life.

I have hope that my husband will overcome his addiction and we will be together for eternity.

I have hope that we will have children.

I have hope for positive outcomes in my other trials that I haven't really described on this blog. I have hope. I love that I have hope because when I look back on everything that has happened and all the pain I have suffered, having hope is a tremendous blessing, more beautiful that I even imagined. A year ago, I didn't have this much hope. A year and a half ago, I had even less hope.

I'm so grateful for the power of the Atonement and how it has touched me and brought me hope.

Whenever I fear what the future might bring, I can remind myself what I have overcome, what I have learned, and what I have hope for. I have hope for the future because I have faith in Christ.

I make it sound simple, but I know it's not. We all know it's not. I just hope that my hope can give you hope. That's a lot of hope :)

How can we find that hope? I'll talk about the action steps for step 2 tomorrow, and not at 10 pm, I promise!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Who do you want to be?

Today has been a very busy day. I won't have time to go into detail about step 2, really. I just wanted to share something I have been thinking about lately.

A couple days ago as I was driving, I had this question hit me (and it was so intense that it caused me to miss my turn): who do you want to be? Sometimes, I drive without music so things like that can happen to me :) Music (if listened to too often) can clog our ability to receive the Spirit.

So I asked myself last night and wrote about it in my journal: who do I want to be?

There are a some things that I want of myself really badly. They are always peeking, but not always ready to come out. I decided it's time for these "peeking" traits to start making a full-time appearance in my life. I need some change. I'm ready to fill my life with optimism, passion, and joy.

Ultimately, I have the choice to become whomever I want. There is always a choice. Sometimes, we can't see the choice because it is hidden behind other things. I am ready to uncover my choices.

I want to be a disciple of Christ.

I want to be a giver.

I want to be a lover of life.

I want to jump at every opportunity, take chances, have no fear, just live and learn.

I want to have a deep passion for everything I do.

I want to turn shadows into sunshine.

I want to be grateful for the glass, whether it's half-empty or half-full (it's usually half-full).

I want to be head-over-heels in love.

I want my breath to be taken away every morning when I see my husband sleeping by my side.

I want to be able to look at my husband and have my heart melt because he is mine.

I started with a disciple of Christ because that is the most important. When the list gets down to my husband... those things can happen too, and yes, they are in my control. Even though he has done many things that have hurt our marriage, so have I. I have noticed that when I have the proper attitude, he does take my breath away. My heart does melt when I catch him looking at me. But, I want that all the time. To have that, I need to have a heart full of Christ-like love, ready to forgive, and full of gratitude. That's where the other stuff come in that are on my list. It's hard to explain what is going through my head and heart right now. But this is what I want, and I know that I can have this. I guess it ties perfectly into step 2 because a heart full of hope and love is what will bring me the optimism, passion, and joy that I desire. And hope is what I need to take me to the next step to where I desire to go.

Look out, world. Here comes the new me!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Step 2: Hope (Part 2/4)

Key Principle: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.

Step 2 gave me what I needed: hope. I would encourage you to read this step on your own, but I want to share some of the things I learned.

First of all, change doesn't have to happen right away. It's a process, there are cycles involved, and you really have to work hard. You might be scared,  you might be cynical, but if there is any part of you that desires change, I'd say go for it. It says in this chapter, "Gradually, the principles...started to work for us. As we kept coming back, we began to feel something we had not felt in years, hope" (pg 7, emphasis added). Hope for change doesn't have to happen right away. If you desire it, keep exercising your hope for hope, and eventually you will find true hope.

Here are more quotes from this chapter. These quotes each touched me at different times for different reasons and always give me hope when I need it. All areas of emphasis are added. 

"In this atmosphere of faith and testimony, we found hope that began to awaken us to the mercy and power of God." God is merciful. He works in mysterious ways, and He is merciful. As hard as I think my life is sometimes, I am so grateful for everything that has come my way because without my trials, I wouldn't be who I am. I wouldn't be as strong as I am or have the faith and patience that I do if He hadn't extended His mercy to me.

"We found ourselves blessed with the grace of Jesus Christ to maintain our abstinence one day at a time." Whenever I look at what we have to overcome, it overwhelms me. Truth be told, I am an easily overwhelmed person, probably due to school and all my trials. But, being an easily overwhelmed person has allowed me to trust God more openly. When I live one day at a time, I feel the blessings of grace and mercy bestowed on me. When I ask myself, "Can I abstain from anger today?" I think I can do it. But when I ask myself, "Can I completely get rid of my anger right now forever?" I feel no hope. Don't look at everything you have to do and be overwhelmed. Just live each day as God wants you to. Each day, ask Him for strength. He will help you get through that day, and then you can focus on tomorrow when it gets here.

"As we took step 2, we became willing to replace trust in ourselves and our addictions with faith in the love and power of Jesus Christ." I think this speaks for itself, but I do want to point out the word willing. You don't have to completely turn yourself over to God in this step. Through hope, you will find the desire and willingness to turn yourself over. Being willing isn't nearly as hard as actually doing it, but it opens the door to doing it.

"This program is spiritual, and it is a program of action." As much as you want to, you really can't expect things to just change without putting in some effort of your own. The nice thing is, this can be as joyful as you want it to be. You have your agency to put forth the action necessary to make changes in your life, attitude, or whatever you need changed. You also have the agency to choose if this change will bring you joy or if you will do it grudgingly. Sometimes, you may do it grudgingly, but over time, I hope you find joy. If it makes you feel any better, I have my grudging, bad attitude moments. But overall, I have found a lot of joy.

The last two quotes, I just want you to think about on your own. I have a lot I could write about them, but I want to leave the interpretation up to you to think about. Thanks for reading. I pray that you will find peace in whatever you are searching for.

"If you follow these principles and allow them to work in your life, you will find yourself being restored to spiritual health through your newfound relationship with the Lord. His Spirit will help you begin to see your choices more honestly and clearly."

",,,when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance" (Elder Bednar, quoted in this chapter)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Step 2: Hope (Part 1/4)

Are you ready to dive into Step 2? I am!

Don't feel any pressure to be working the steps as fast as I am talking about them, if you are still on step 1, that is perfect. Take your own time, and move on with your studies when you are ready. If you aren't even working them and are just wanting to read what I have to say, awesome. I hope what I say on this blog helps you. 

I absolutely, positively, with all my heart, LOVE Step 2. Why? Because it gave me hope at a time that I didn't have much.

Did you read the post my husband wrote? If not, it's right here. Well, he mentioned how he has thought about killing himself to so I could have a better life. I've always thought that the worst thing that could happen in our marriage is him dying. Even now, I still feel that way. After everything. I just love him so much, and the thought of him dying and me being  alone scares me (even though, yes I am a stalwart member of the church and I know we have eternal families, and I know I would heal if he died, I still don't want him to die any time soon). So, when he talked about suicide, well, I'm pretty sure that probably gave me a panic attack. Because our lives were so hard, and quite honestly, him killing himself would make it harder because then I would be alone with all my pain from his addiction and his death. Wow, this is sounding like a morbid post.

Basically, what I mean is we had some really hard times. His suicidal-thoughts confession was in December of 2011, and I didn't start group until April or May of last year. During those few months, we had lots of ups and downs, mostly downs. Sometimes I had hope, but not consistently. I didn't have real hope that I could actually hold on to until I started Step 2. Lucky for me, when we went to group for the first time, they were studying Step 2. That was perfect for me, and I think for him too. I gained hope and felt lots of love at group, then I went home and could start Step 1. Honesty wasn't what I needed to hear first (I did work the steps in order, and it was amazing), and I was so so incredibly grateful to have started my group meeting attendance on Step 2. I just needed to hear Step 2 first.

I am so excited to share with you what I have learned from Step 2, especially for those of you who need hope as much as I did, or more. I know some people have worse experiences and less hope than me.

The key principle is: "Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health."

That statement alone gave me hope. In the honesty step, we admitted our need for God to help us overcome our whatevers (addiction, weakness, anger, anxiety, you name it) and became more humble. Humility allowed us to let God in. In Step 2, we could build upon that foundation to open the door to receive hope.

I gained hope that my emotional scars could be healed. That I could overcome my anger. That my life wouldn't suck. AND I gained hope for Ben. He worked on the exact same steps as me. He also had to come to believe that the power of God could restore him to complete spiritual health. Having that hope for Ben gave me even a little bit more hope for our marriage.

I know that some of you may be in this recovery process alone and you are trying to find your own healing without your spouse or loved one. Maybe you are going through divorce and you are stuck alone with all your pain and heartache of what your husband's addiction has done to you. Maybe your marriage hasn't failed and you are holding on and trying to recover emotionally, but your spouse won't join you in that process. YOU CAN STILL FIND HEALING. I know it's different for me because my husband is trying to recover from his addiction, but there were times when he wasn't quite sure he wanted to. Giving up his addiction means giving up his coping mechanism for everything that has gone wrong/stressed him out in the past 13 years of his life. That's a lot to give up. There were times that he lied to me so I thought he was recovering and he was still hiding it. His recovery process is happening, but not as fast as I wish (or as he wishes). There have been many times where I felt alone in this, even though ultimately, he has been recovering.

People in group talked about co-dependence a lot. I didn't know what it meant, so I looked it up one day. I just googled the term and studied the top 3 that popped up. This article really helped me understand it better, and it opened my eyes to how co-dependent I was. I'll let you read the article on your own time, if you want. To put it simply, one thing I learned is that I was co-dependent. I still don't think co-dependence is entirely a bad thing, but it depends on how you handle situations like this. I was losing myself, and that was bad. I was so caught up in the pain of what was going on in our relationship, and I was so caught up with the fact that I might end up alone in the celestial kingdom, that I wasn't doing anything for myself. You have to do things for yourself. You have to heal.

I needed to open my heart up to God. I needed to develop my relationship with Him better. You know in church when they ask you to prioritize your life/relationships and you make that list (am I crazy? I hope you have all done that at some point)? Well, this is my list, in order of priority: God, husband, family, friends, other people. God should always come first. That's the first commandment, to love God. As I started trying to come closer to God, then I was able to gain even more hope and healing. Through the 12 steps, I have discovered the power of the Atonement, and I have much hope for the future.

It's important to be dedicated to your spouse. You made covenants. That's the only part of co-dependency that I think is good. The rest of it, not so much. You should have a strong relationship, but you shouldn't depend on that person so much that you can't function yourself. That was me sometimes. Sometimes, I didn't feel co-dependent, but that was when I ignored him, and that isn't good either. You have to find the balance between putting yourself there for him and keeping yourself up too.

I love this step. It really brought me closer to God. I have so much I want to say, so many thoughts running through my head right now. But the last thing I want to share today is a scripture, and I'll talk in more detail about step 2 tomorrow.

The scripture is Alma 7:11-13.

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death , that he may loose  the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

Christ knows what is going on in your life. He suffered your pain. He suffered your afflictions. He suffered your temptations. Yours. Mine. His. Hers. All of ours. Personally and individually. He specifically felt yours. He specifically felt mine. He took upon himself our infirmities so he could be filled with mercy towards us. He shows us mercy and blesses us with tender mercies every day. He knows us. He loves us. We are not alone. We are never alone, even though we feel like it sometimes. He is always there, waiting with open arms to hug us and help us through. He is always ready to pick us up and carry us if necessary. He has given me so much strength through the hardest times of my life, and I know I would be nothing without Him. He has given me hope, and He is helping to restore me to complete spiritual health. 

If you have not let Him in, start doing little things to start letting Him in. He really is there. I promise.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fast Sunday

In December, someone told me at group that someone told her that if you fast for your husband for six months in a row, then you will be blessed.

Today was my second month of fasting for my husband.

I fasted for him to have strength to do what he needs to do to overcome his addiction and keep fighting off Satan. Through that, I was also fasting for him to get his temple recommend. I also fasted for us to love each other better.

The past few days, we have been fighting a lot. A LOT. It's been really sad and also annoying because I don't know why we keep fighting, and all of our arguments are completely stupid. But today, after church, we had some much needed time alone where we just cuddled in bed and talked. It was so refreshing and tender, and to me, it was an answer to my prayers to be closer and love each other better.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Step 1: Honesty (Part 4/4)

Key Principle: Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

Action Steps:
1. Become willing to abstain.
2. Let go of pride and seek humility.
3. Admit the problem; seek help; attend meetings.

Admit the problem; seek help; attend meetings
This is the last action step for Step 1. Admit the problem. Yeah, the spouse's problem is fairly easy to admit, but admit that your problem is beyond that. It's not all the spouse's fault. Even though my actions do stem from my husband's actions (regarding the addiction), I really have the agency to choose my actions/reactions to what he does. And also, if I can make the effort to understand him and his addiction better, my reactions don't have to be negative. My reactions can be compassionate and loving. I can't control what he does with his addiction, but I can control how angry I get. Unless, of course, I feel like my anger is out of control, which it sometimes is, and then that is another problem that needs to be addressed.

I like to blame my husband for everything that goes wrong. That sounds so horrible, but it's horribly true. If I'm angry, it's because he acted out in his addiction, which hurts. Or he hasn't talked to me enough lately. Or he did something selfish. Or he wasn't considerate enough to unload the dishwasher for me. The list of excuses goes on and on for me. It's so easy to pretend that it's all my husband's fault when he has done something so hurtful. It's so easy to point everything back to that. It's also easy to think that because he has wronged me so badly, he can never make up for it, or all of my wrongs can't even add up to equal it. A wrong is a wrong. Even though my pain from his acting on his addiction is A LOT, I don't have the right to keep doing little things that hurt him. Lately, I've been doing much better at recognizing when I do wrong and seek forgiveness.

When you constantly blame others for your actions, it's really hard to put some of the blame on yourself. I was in denial of my own blame for a while. But, when I realized what problems I was contributing to our marriage, it was really refreshing. We could work together to overcome things instead of battling against each other. We were able to seek help together, and we attended meetings together--he went to his support group, and I went to mine. Then, on the way home from group, we talked about what we learned and impressions we had.

Don't get me wrong--it was H.A.R.D. I definitely don't enjoy admitting I'm wrong because I want to be perfect. Really. Admitting my faults is quite a challenge for me. I am stubborn and prideful. But I've been able to get help with overcoming that flaw and others and help with my healing as I have attended the addiction recovery meetings. I have met great friends who help support me. And, each addiction recovery meeting is a very unique spiritual experience. If you ask me, bringing the Spirit into your life is the best thing you could do to start the healing process. Even if you already study the scriptures regularly and do spiritual things, there is nothing like the spirit I have felt at addiction recovery meetings. It's a very special place. I think it's because those of us involved with someone who suffers from an addiction have been trusted with a lot from the Lord, and there is a special place for us. He gives us special blessings to help us through this trial.

The title of this blog is "12 Steps with Christ." That is because as I have gone through the 12 steps, I have come closer to Christ than ever before. He has literally walked me through them and given me the strength I need to keep going. The first step in truly finding Him is admitting that we are powerless to overcome this alone. Until I admitted that, I was too stubborn. That stubbornness put some blocks in the way so the spirit couldn't reach me. Once I was more humble, the spirit could reach me on so many more levels. And I'm still growing!

Read through the "study and understanding" portion of the step on your own. It's worth it, I promise. You can get a copy of the pdf here, possibly from your bishop, from any ARP meeting, or possibly a Deseret Book or distribution center. That last option, I'm not sure about, so don't quote me on it. I got mine from my bishop, so I know at least some bishops have them, and I know for sure that the missionaries at the meetings have them, or have access to get you one (but I think they are something like 3 bucks).