“I Have Been Supported…”

from Abby

When I started participating in Healing Through Christ, I quickly felt my burdens become lighter as I allowed the Savior to carry them for me.  I felt so much relief and happiness. I mistakenly thought I was completely healed! It was only a short time before negative emotions started to creep back into my life.  Despite my disappointment that overcoming my trials wasn’t going to be as simple as I thought, I found comfort in Alma 36:27, “I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me…and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.”  I had felt God’s guidance and love in my life up to that point, and I knew that He would continue to be with me. I knew I could trust Him to support me in all my afflictions. I learned that healing takes time, patience, and endurance. I now recognize that I need the Atonement every day of my life. It’s more than a one-time application.  However, because of Healing Through Christ, I have wonderful tools to help me turn to the Savior for help with the trials that I face.

Through working the steps of Healing Through Christ, I’ve learned the value of keeping a journal.  Praying for inspiration and then writing down my thoughts is a powerful way to recognize and record promptings from the Holy Ghost.  One of the best tools that I’ve gained is the practice of writing a fear list.  Step Two suggests that we make a list of all our fears.  “We write beside each fear on our list, ‘Even if this happens, I will be alright because my Savior will always sustain me.’  Then we prayerfully ask our Savior to take from us the fearful emotional burdens that are creating so much hopelessness and pain in our lives” (p. 23).  It is a helpful way to identify specific worries that we have and to realize that we can trust God to help us through all of those concerns. I have used the same concept to make a guilt list. When I felt overwhelmed with guilt that I had over a damaged relationship with a loved one, I made a list for all of my guilt.  For each item on the list, I honestly asked myself if there were any changes I could make to improve that area of the relationship. For any items on my list that I had already changed or that I had no control over, I prayed that my Savior would take away the guilt that I felt for them.  I also used the same pattern to write a blame list.  I used that list to let go of blame that I had toward a loved one that had hurt me.  I believe that making lists for all of our negative emotions can help us identify our feelings, process them, and give these difficult emotions to Jesus Christ to carry for us.

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Healing Through Christ has changed my life because it has taught me how to let Jesus Christ change me.  I have an increased love for others, and I feel my Savior’s love for me more abundantly.  I’m very grateful for the applications I’ve been able to make in my life as I’ve learned more about my own worth and how to have better relationships with others.  I love Jesus Christ, and I know that He is so eager to heal our broken hearts. I’m grateful for His perfect love.

God’s Way

From Sandy

Almost 2 years ago things started going wrong with my body. I kept going to my doctor and he kept telling me that the different things going wrong were just due to aging! I just could not accept his statements. I started resisting and resenting aging! I fought against it with every fiber of my being. And I started speaking negative statements about my physical situations. I felt my body had betrayed me. I was in such pain I no longer wanted to live.

old hands

In a women’s support group meeting in Kalamazoo, MI, we were studying Step 11, “Seek through prayer, scripture study and meditation to know the Lord‘s will and to have the power to carry it out.” In the promise of Step 11 Elder Bruce D. Porter taught “those who have a broken heart and contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God has asked of them without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead.“

At that moment my eyes were opened and I realized that I had been creating a very negative world for myself. I asked God to forgive me and started accepting that aging is part of life’s cycle. Once I applied Step 11 to my life the door opened for a new doctor and a diagnosis of an immune disorder.  My life changed! I got the treatment necessary to help me with the immune disorder and help with the migraines!  I still have challenges that are not fun, but I am accepting the challenges without the resentment or resistance.

I am so grateful for the Healing Through Christ support groups. They have brought me through a very dark valley into the light of Heavenly Father’s will for me. I have applied the attitude of gratitude that President Monson so often spoke to us about in conference. I am grateful for even this challenge. Being GRATEFUL has helped me to move through darkness and actually see some spiritual growth in my life.  My life has become more manageable, joyful and hopeful.

Sing the Song of Redeeming Love

from Marianne

I have often labeled myself and been labeled by others as a “perfectionist.” As a teenager, I considered this a compliment with a caveat. I no longer consider it a compliment but see it as a character flaw stemming from pride, and a lack of true understanding of God’s grand plan of happiness. This particular source of pride has been a direct cause of debilitating depression for me.

Perfectionism in my life ultimately stems from a lack of faith in the Savior’s atonement. I may think that my intentions are good because I am trying to keep all of the commandments with exactness, but actually when I am in perfectionist mode, I don’t want to need a Savior. I don’t want to accept that someone else had to suffer for me. This may seem selfless, but I have come to recognize it as ghastly pride disguised as a close counterfeit to humility. The mentality of doing it myself is rejecting the Savior’s suffering for me. It is actually a mentality that comes dangerously close to the plan that Lucifer proposed in the premortal council. Live perfectly and give the glory to myself, rather than relying upon my Savior’s perfect love and glorify God.

Woman kneeling with scriptures

Recently I had a rather bad case of perfectionism. My intentions were initially good. I wanted to try my very best to live by every word from the mouth of God. This is a good desire! Where I went wrong was my response when I realized that it was virtually impossible for me to accomplish this task without failure. Instead of turning to the Lord when I became completely overwhelmed by the task, I turned inward and felt bitter. I lost sight of the enabling power of Jesus Christ and instead thought if I can’t do it, how could the Savior ever do it. The Lord wisely let me struggle in this miserable state for a period of time. After much studying and pondering and wise counsel from my mother, I rejoiced when on Christmas Eve I caught a glimpse of God’s pure love for me in giving me the gift of His son. My heart felt to sing the song of redeeming love that Alma talks about.

 

Nothing is as humbling to me as realizing my complete dependency upon my Savior. And this realization is always accompanied by a realization of his overwhelming love for me, a sinner.

“…if ye have experienced a change of heart, if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”

Alma 5:26

I Can Trust My Heavenly Father

from Sarah

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about faith and fear. One of my biggest fears is heights: a fear that I had to face and overcome quickly during the fire academy. During our firefighter survival training we learned how to bail out a window using just a single rope. To do this, you have to wrap the rope around you and get one leg up and over the window sill. Next you lean forward and start falling head first out the window until you can clear your other leg and turn yourself upright again. Needless to say, it was terrifying. In learning and practicing these things, I came to trust my equipment, my fellow firefighters, and myself.

This trust didn’t take away my fear, but it gave me the strength to push through it anyway.

Faith and trust in God doesn’t equate to the complete absence of fear. I think one of the most profound ways to show Heavenly Father my faith is by following Him in spite of my fears. It’s by coming to that window sill and telling Him; ‘I don’t know how this is going to turn out, but I trust that you’re going to protect me as I do your will.’

By far, the hardest decision I’ve ever made is which path I wanted to be on with regards to my faith. I don’t profess to have the right answers, or that the decisions I have made are the right decisions for anyone else’s path. For me in my life, I chose to stay in the church after having a very tumultuous crisis of faith. And at times I still find myself paralyzed by thoughts of what the future holds and if it’s actually feasible to continue in my faith in light of the fact that I am gay. But I’ve found my faith grow deeper in those times of trusting God enough to move forward anyway despite not knowing.

In the first moments when you bail out of a window, it feels like you are free falling. Until you clear the window sill and the rope tightens, you are going on complete faith that your rope will catch you. But once the rope kicks in and you’re not falling head first anymore, you feel completely secure and safe. I constantly go back and forth between free falling and feeling complete trust in the Lord. I have told Heavenly Father more than once: “I don’t know what to do with this, but it makes my soul ache.”

firefighter

I made the choice to stay, but that doesn’t take away my feelings. And it makes my very soul ache to think about the true implications of my decision. My faith is more important to me than anything, but I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a devastating decision to chose not “act on” my feelings. In those times I really have to step back and say, I don’t know. I don’t know the answers. I don’t know if I’m going to survive jumping out of this window.

But I have come to learn that I can trust my rope. I can trust my Heavenly Father. I have found my strength renewed time and time again by living the gospel. It has brought an indescribable peace to my soul that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

My 12-Step Journey

from Paul

I came to the 12-steps about a decade ago, as I helped an addicted loved one enter a year-long rehab program.  His addiction had been going on for several years, and (as I later learned), my co-dependence preceded the addiction by years before that.

 

What I thought was a plan to “support” my loved one in recovery because a journey of discovery for myself.  I came to understand that I had my own issues to confront.  In that first year, my addicted loved one and I walked on similar, but very different, paths.  We both worked the steps.  I even attended family sessions at his rehab facility.  But each of us had unique burdens we carried, unique weaknesses to have removed, unique amends to make as the time came.

 

I started at Step One, recognizing that I was powerless over addiction.  Simple enough, I thought at the time.  But over the course of several months I came to understand that my powerlessness was deeper than I realized, mostly because my own problems were far deeper than I realize.  My co-dependence led me to try to control everything around me, and to respond with anger when I could not.  (And, as Step 1 taught me, of course I could not control everything around me!)

 I can't, He can

A decade later, both my addicted loved one and I live in recovery.  And we both recognize that we do so one day at a time, grateful for where we are today.  I have come to rely on regular step work to keep me on the path of recovery from my addiction to control and the destruction that addiction caused in my family.  I’m amazed at the grace of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice that allows my life to be better today than it was a decade ago.

 

As I worked the first three steps, summarized simply and well by a friend:  “I can’t; He can; I think I’ll let Him,” I came to trust the Lord in ways I never knew I could.  I learned to pray to understand His will rather than to dictate my own.  I learned to “let go and let God” in matters I knew I could not (or should not) control.  

 

I began as an ARP group leader just over 8 years ago, and I have found a wonderful home in my ARP group, where I can continue to learn to live according to the principles of the 12 Steps, and enjoy the continuing blessings which the Savior offers through His atoning sacrifice.

Addiction Stories

The Deseret News is doing a series of stories on people suffering from addiction. This one tells the story of a school superintendent and LDS Bishop struggle to overcome an opiod addiction.

“I hope our society will someday see people suffering from drug addiction for who they truly are — not criminals, but human beings struggling to conquer an extremely strong foe,” says Bennett. “To win that fight, they need our empathy, understanding and support.”

Read the rest of the story at The Deseret News

Mike Bennett

 

There is Always Hope

I was having a rough day related to concerns with a loved one. I found myself crying frequently and hopelessness was becoming a constant companion. I was able to attend a Step 2 Healing Through Christ Family Support group meeting and the Spirit touched my heart deeply with a couple of thoughts that night.

The first one was related to a paragraph under Hope and Expectation that talks about Satan trying to remove hope, but he can’t because it is a lie. So having “no Hope” is a lie. That brought amazing peace and comfort to me. When I think I have lost hope I can remember that the statement is a lie. There is always hope because I believe in Christ. That is an absolute for me, thus I have some hope always and once there is some hope there can be more hope.

Hope in Christ

The second thought I had was related to President Uchtdorf’s quote, “[Hope] is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered.” Sometimes, like today, I struggle with what that really means. However, in the prior paragraph it talks about surrendering our desires to God’s timetable and trusting in His Plan for me and for my loved ones. All of my plans have to be eliminated, turned over, forgotten. My energy must go into asking for “confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance” in God’s plan.

I am praying for and searching for that “firmly grounded” feeling and trusting what God Can and Will do for me. Someone in our meeting said God’s only agenda each day is us. He does not have an agenda for himself. I want that agenda. I want to be on that team, not my own team with my own agenda.

So back to my rough day – I felt the spirit telling me I wasn’t a team player at home.  We were turning into competing teams and He wanted me to remember we were a family right now, despite its less than traditional nature.  I should be finding the good, not always criticizing and complaining.  I felt like He understood how I felt and His council to look for the good was to bring me happiness.  He knew the way up and He knew the way out.  He knew because He had already felt everything I was feeling but even more He knew a better way.

 

Looking Beyond What I See

from Annette

Throughout my life I have struggled with judging others.  Sometimes it’s a church member I don’t agree with, a friend who has let me down, a member of my family who is choosing different avenues, or a parent who didn’t give me everything I wanted or felt I needed growing up.  The following personal story by Elder W. Craig Zwick has helped me question my judgmental ways.

“I had my eyes opened to ‘looking beyond what I could see’ while serving as a mission president. A young elder arrived with apprehension in his eyes. As we met in an interview, he said dejectedly, ‘I want to go home.’ I thought to myself, ‘Well, we can fix this.’ I counseled him to work hard and to pray about it for a week and then call me. A week later, almost to the minute, he called. He still wanted to go home. I again counseled him to pray, to work hard, and to call me in a week. In our next interview, things had not changed. He insisted on going home.

romania-classrooms-praying-teaching-learning-1407576-mobile“I just wasn’t going to let that happen. I began teaching him about the sacred nature of his call. I encouraged him to ‘forget [himself] and go to work.’ But no matter what formula I offered, his mind did not change. It finally occurred to me that I might not have the whole picture. It was then that I felt a prompting to ask him the question: ‘Elder, what is hard for you?’ What he said pierced my heart: ‘President, I can’t read.’

“The wise counsel which I thought was so important for him to hear was not at all relevant to his needs. What he needed most was for me to look beyond my hasty assessment and allow the Spirit to help me understand what was really on this elder’s mind. He needed me to see him correctly and offer a reason to hope. Instead, I acted like a giant demolition wrecking ball. This valiant elder did learn to read and became a very pure disciple of Jesus Christ. He opened my eyes to the Lord’s words: ‘For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7).  What a blessing it is when the Spirit of the Lord widens our view.” (October, 2017 Elder W. Craig Zwick “Lord, Wilt Thou Cause That My Eyes May Be Opened”)

As I listened to this story I thought of my mother-in-law, my siblings, friends current and past, my mother, my father, and so many others I have hastily labeled.  Is there more to their situations then my limited eyes can see?  I believe as I humbly turn to the Lord, and ask to see with His eyes, He will loving show me who He knows they truly are.  Elder Zwick wisely counsels me,  “The gospel net is filled with people in all their variety. We can’t fully understand the choices and psychological backgrounds of people in our world, Church congregations, and even in our families, because we rarely have the whole picture of who they are. We must look past the easy assumptions and stereotypes and widen the tiny lens of our own experience.”

I believe with the Lord’s help I can change my ways.  In fact I can begin today by reaching out with love to someone.  President Henry B. Eyring promises, “… so I challenge you to go for the Lord to someone…to extend love.  I promise you that as you do you will feel the love of the Savior for that person and His love for you.”

Lord, Help Me See

from Meghan

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

“Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”

Matt 5:23-24

On each Sabbath Day, we are invited to the table of the Lord to offer our gifts as we partake of the Sacrament. The gifts the Lord requires are a broken heart and a contrite spirit. What does that mean? One meaning is to come repenting of our sins, recognizing where we have fallen short, asking forgiveness, and resolving to do better.

How can I approach the alter of the Lord with my gift and be sure that there is nothing unresolved in my life that would interfere with my communion with the Lord? How can I be sure that my heart is truly broken and my Spirit contrite? How do I develop the self-awareness to recognize my faults, ask forgiveness or make amends, and come to the Lord’s table with nothing to prevent feeling a full measure of his Spirit?

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Step Four has taught me how to develop that required self-awareness, as I have walked through the process of making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. I didn’t approach this step with enthusiasm—the first few times we discussed this step, I recoiled from it. I was afraid of it. It was overwhelming and distasteful to me. But when the time was right, as we read the step materials in Healing Through Christ I kept seeing reassurances of compassion, love, gentleness, and the Lord’s willingness to accompany me on this process. I was encouraged to see myself with “honesty and gentleness.” I was reassured that “without shame or self-contempt, we become willing to be changed through the revealing illumination of the spirit of truth. This reflective journey will become a joyful transforming experience for each of us.”

My heart became ready for this reflective journey, and for the first time I read the Working the Steps section, committed to doing the painful inventory that I still somewhat dreaded. The manual encouraged me to start with two topics that were much less dreadful than I expected:

  1. Remembering God’s Help in Our Lives
  2. Listing Our Positive Traits

Those two topics were the perfect way to start! Remembering God’s help in my life helped me to see the many tender mercies in my life, reassured me that God had been with me even in tough times of my own making, and gave me hope for his continued sustaining love through this next journey.

Listing my positive traits kept me from going right to a list of everything that is wrong with me. It helped me to start from a place of hope and balance. I was able to see a more complete and honest picture of myself.

I have done a long inventory by breaking up my life into small sections. But I also do small inventories now; if I have a difficult experience with someone, I inventory that experience or relationship. I try to stay balanced by starting with the two topics of recognizing God’s help in this situation and the positive traits I brought to it. I also don’t shy away from recognizing my part in the problem. I invite the Lord to help me see more clearly and objectively what I have done well and what I need to change.

If I discover a relationship which is uncomfortable, I know there is an opportunity there for me to discover my part in it. I search for what I need to do to come unto the Lord unencumbered by clutter that will block the Spirit and the joy that my Father wants me to feel. On a daily basis, I can become open to recognizing what is interfering with God’s promise that I will always have His Spirit to be with me.

Repentance can be a joyful process, as the Lord helps me to see and change my thoughts and behavior so that I can welcome the Spirit more fully into my life.

Daily Accountability

from Duane

A woman once told me that in the 12-step group she helps with, a 63-year-old participant told her he had been sober for 8 months.

We should celebrate victories like this. But we should also be vigilant that such victories not be reversed. We have all experienced the sting of sin and the joy of repentance. I bear witness that when we repent, we are forgiven. However, should we slip and repeat our sin, Doctrine and Covenants 82:7 warns us: “And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”

I believe this verse is telling us if we have repented and been forgiven of a sin, and then repeat the sin, it is as if we had not previously repented. Matthew 12:43-45 makes that point forcefully. Once we have been healed by Christ’s atonement, we don’t want to slip back and wound ourselves again.

No matter what our addiction or weakness, we are never far from it. If our addiction was to alcohol or overeating or compulsive shopping, every time we drive we will pass potential pit stops on the way to sin. If our addiction was to pornography or online gambling, we are never more than a few clicks away from sin and addiction and bondage. Given that we don’t want to backslide, we need to be ever vigilant of those small decisions that bring us closer to temptation to slip.

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Once we have become sober, steps 10, 11, and 12, the maintenance steps in 12-step programs, help us stay clear of temptation. These become the most important steps to us to keep our hard-won freedom from bondage. Not surprisingly, these steps are similar to the standard answers to many questions asked in church meetings. Step 10 is to recognize the wrongs we have done, ask forgiveness of those whom we have wronged, and humbly participate in the Sacrament ordinance weekly to cleanse us of our sins.

Step 11 is meaningful prayer, meditation and scripture reading. Step 12 is loving service to our fellow man, including sharing the gospel. Who knew that attending Church could be such an integral part of working our recovery program?