I've had a lot of responsibilities on my plate. I've experienced a lot of stress this year. I'm a stresser, you guys. A STRESSER. Life stresses me out, and I allow things to prevent me from feeling peace. I've felt a lot of peace through my 12-step journey, but at the same time, feeling like I'm focusing so much on the addiction and my recovery stresses me out because I feel like the addiction is ruling my life. As if the addiction dictates what I'm studying and I HAVE to make sure I'm including my 12 steps in my studies.
So I stopped for a while. I finished step 9 and didn't move on to step 10 because I didn't want to add that extra pressure. I knew what step 10 was (daily accountability), and I kept that in the back of my mind. I've thought a lot about the things I've been working on as a result of my inventory and the following steps, and I've just been trying to make them better. I mean, it really all comes down to being more like Christ.
I picked up my 12-step manual again this week. I felt ready to move on in the program.
I love how perfectly the steps fit together. The first nine are learning and growing steps, and the last three are maintenance steps. All the principles the first steps teach are the things that I need to now base my life on. Now, I'm holding myself accountable for all of those things. I'm holding myself accountable every day so I can see my progress and how close or far away I am from my goals. Every day is a constant process to bring me back to Christ.
I've tried to develop a change of heart. To maintain that mighty change of heart requires effort. If anybody knows that, I do (and I'm sure you do too). Holy cow, it's HARD to maintain the things I've learned. Sometimes I have my own relapses. I have a difficult time refraining from anger. I have a difficult time speaking with love. Sometimes it's hard for me to say sincere prayers. Sometimes it's hard for me to feel the love of God for others around me. It's also sometimes hard to give service and look outside of the things I'm struggling with.
Of course, my own personal relapses tend to coincide with Jack's, but still. Do I want the addiction to rule me? Do I want to be angry and cold just because I'm hurting? NO! Of course not! I want to be the best person I can be. And I'm trying to be. Sometimes, it's just hard.
I'm learning to forgive myself and move on quicker. When I do get down and mad, I've finally discovered my agency. I have the choice to stay that way or make efforts to move on. It's not easy. It's so much easier to just be angry when I feel those temptations of Satan roaring around me. But it's so much more joyful to find the way to move past that. When I can forgive myself for the little things I've done wrong, when I can forgive myself for dwelling on the anger and move on, I've found so much more happiness.
It takes work to stay spiritually fit.
I'm an athlete. I know how hard it is and how much work is required to keep the body toned. I know how much work it requires to win championships. I know how much work is required to be a top-notch athlete.
I'm also a learner. I worked really hard in college to earn As. I had to be at the top of my game to spit out information for my tests, especially in my really hard classes. To really do well, I checked myself every day. I studied information. I quizzed myself. I did checks for accountability to make sure that I knew the necessary information to do well on the test.
That same amount of work is required in my spiritual athletics--games, championships, fitness and conditioning--and learning. I need to work out daily. I need to hold myself accountable. I need honest, prayerful self-appraisal. I need to ask myself searching questions about my feelings, thoughts, motives, and conduct. I need to watch for signs of pride. I need to take my weaknesses to God. I need to take my pains to God and allow Him to give me rest. I need to keep my heart set on the Savior and remember His teachings and love. I need to serve.
But just like any athlete, I need to know when I've reached my limit so I don't injure myself. I need to make sure I'm taking care of my spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. I need to seek out balance and serenity. When necessary, I need to take time-outs and breathe. I need to check myself in stressful situations and see where I'm being triggered.
I've been trying to hold myself accountable, but now it's even more important. I know the principles. Of course, I don't know them perfectly, but I know enough to make changes and hold myself accountable. The biggest thing I'm working on is letting go. Letting go of my pains. Letting go of my stress. Letting go of my desire to control everything. The next biggest thing is counseling with God and accepting His plan. I'm trying to really understand what He wants me to do. I'm trying to follow my promptings. And I'm really trying to accept His will. Sometimes it's really hard because when I look at all the responsibilities I have in all aspects of my life (church, school, family, group), it completely overwhelms me. But, when I look at it all through God's eyes and see things with perspective, it gives me motivation to keep going.
This week was really stressful. I didn't go to bed before 11 any day, and I got up around 5:30 every day. Not terrible, but after basically two weeks of that, I felt completely exhausted by the end of the week. This weekend I had a big thing going on for a stake assignment I have, and that completely wore me out too. But, every day I saw tremendous blessings. Every day I asked God to help me see things with perspective and to give me strength to keep going, and He did. I have seen many reasons why He has asked me to do the things He has asked of me. I have seen growth, and I've seen my specific talents at work. I have felt a tremendous amount of joy in serving Him and His children.
I know I've been able to have such clear vision this week because I've been holding myself accountable to the things I've learned through my trials. I've been holding myself accountable and not allowing the nasties to creep in and stay. I feel so blessed, and I also feel like I know I can do hard things.
My wise bishop told me a few months ago that my life was about to get much harder and the responsibilities would only pile on even more. He was right. But because I decided to embrace things and lean on God, I've been able to have hope, motivation, and strength in doing all that He has asked me to do.
And I'm holding myself accountable every day so I can keep that proper perspective and be an instrument in His hands.
This song speaks to me. Beautiful music in the hands of beautiful artists.