Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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!

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