Afflicted in Others’ Afflictions

Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me. D&C 97:8.

An excerpt from Bruce C. Hafen’s general conference address “The Atonement: All for All”, April 2004.

We must willingly give everything, because God Himself can’t make us grow against our will and without our full participation. Yet even when we utterly spend ourselves, we lack the power to create the perfection only God can complete. Our all by itself is still only almost enough—until it is finished by the all of Him who is the “finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2; see also Moro. 6:4) At that point, our imperfect but consecrated almost is enough.

There was a woman who felt her all, or best, wasn’t good enough. But the Lord said those who “observe their covenants by sacrifice … are accepted of me.” (D&C 97:8) I can envision Him walking the path from the tree of life to lift her up with gladness and carry her home.

Consider others who, like her, have consecrated themselves so fully that, for them, almost is enough:

A father who reached his outermost limits but still couldn’t influence his daughter’s choices; he could only crawl toward the Lord, pleading like Alma for his child.

A wife who encouraged her husband despite his years of weakness, until the seeds of repentance finally sprouted in his heart. She said, “I tried to look at him the way Christ would look at me.”

A husband whose wife suffered for years from a disabling emotional disorder; but to him it was always “our little challenge”—never just “her illness.” In the realm of their marriage, he was afflicted in her afflictions, (See D&C 30:6) just as Christ in His infinite realm was afflicted in our afflictions. (See D&C 133:53)

Almost is especially enough when our own sacrifices somehow echo the Savior’s sacrifice, however imperfect we are. We cannot really feel charity—Christ’s love for others—without at least tasting His suffering for others, because the love and the suffering are but two sides of a single reality. When we really are afflicted in the afflictions of other people, we may enter “the fellowship of his sufferings” (Philip. 3:10) enough to become joint-heirs with Him.

May we not shrink when we discover, paradoxically, how dear a price we must pay to receive what is, finally, a gift from Him. When the Savior’s all and our all come together, we will find not only forgiveness of sin, “we shall see him as he is,” and “we shall be like him.” (Moro. 7:48; 1 Jn. 3:2.)

Listen to the One Voice

From CMP

I want to tell you a story of faith which happened to me recently.

In early June of this year we were invited to a friends’ birthday party. As we arrived and drove up the long, narrow driveway, we saw an open parking place directly in front of her attached garage and my daughter motioned us in. We parked and made our way around the corner of the garage to a grass pathway into the decorated back yard, me going carefully as I have limited walking.

We enjoyed the party, met with a few friends, talked with others, ate and drank of the good refreshments, and then decided to leave as it was getting crowded. My daughter and our driving friend helped me and my husband through the grass into the car. As my friend who was driving looking at the multitude of cars now parked at the edge or on the driveway, she was dismayed at the hodge podge way all were parked, surely about 50 of them.

“I don’t think I can make it out,” she said.

“Go get David (my son-in-law). He can get us out,” I said.

My husband and I were already in the car so we stayed as David came and swung into the driver’s seat.

Everyone started telling him how to back out the long, hemmed-in driveway, and he called back that he did not need so much instruction.

“I need only one voice,” he said.

One man stood in back of the car and firmly shouted directions. An inch here, a foot this way, a few inches there, no, no, go forward and come back straight again. All of his instructions were obeyed instantly by David.

My husband and I remained quiet as we knew David would take us safely through the perilous path. Only twice did I close my eyes when it looked as if we would surely scrape the cars on either side.

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I had faith that David would take us safely through. David followed the one voice he heard, faithfully sure that it would lead him on the correct path, and his helper had faith that the words he gave would correctly take us all safely home

That is faith that we all can have knowing Our Lord will lead us safely on our path. All we have to do is listen to that one voice.

I say this in the name of Jesus Christ…firmly and strongly…Amen.

Making a Full Confession

Dear friends, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. One of my biggest fears while I was acting out in my addiction was that someone would find out. Interaction with others increased the risk of someone finding out which contributed to my self-imposed isolation. Fear and isolation drove further secrecy which lead me deeper into my addiction. Since addiction is progressive, this meant increased acting out with increased frequency and escalated seriousness of my transgressions. This resulted in greater shame and embarrassment each time I went through the addictive cycle. I wanted to quit, promised myself that this time I would quit, went for periods of time in strained abstinence, acted out and then felt more guilt when I relapsed and acted out again.

I started reading the 12 step recovery program but I always lost hope when I read step 5 because I told myself I could never confess. I then came up with all sorts of rationalizations like: “I will do other good things to compensate (raising my kids in gospel, going on a mission when retire, family history work, etc) that will balance out the bad.” I rationalized that I was keeping this secret to protect my family because they would be devastated if they found out. Somehow I felt that by taking this to my grave, I was helping them – at least they would be saved. These are all lies that I told myself to numb my conscience and avoid confession.


Step 5 in the Addiction Recovery Program is Confession with the key principle to “Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.” Through my recovery journey I learned that confession was key to healing from my addiction and fully repenting. It is not a curse or a punishment, but a blessing from a loving Heavenly Father to allow me to get everything out of my soul so that my Savior can fully cleanse me.

Full confession required my spiritual growth and my choice. It didn’t seem like choice when Susan discovered my addiction and I felt forced into a partial confession. There were worse parts of my addiction and acting out that I had buried and could not bring myself to talk about with Susan or my Bishop. I needed the spiritual growth going through steps 1 through 4 before I could understand that confession was not intended to be forced, was not a punishment and was not going to bring me further shame. Confession is part of my choice to repent and to receive forgiveness and find peace. I did not believe this until I felt Heavenly Father’s love for me and decided to trust Him. When I started to inventory my sins in step 4, I had to choose whether I really wanted to recover from my addiction and go “all in” to the repentance process or not. I decided I only wanted to go through this pain 1 time and I was going to get everything out and allow the Lord to cleanse everything. If this meant confessing everything, then so be it.

My first full confession was to my Heavenly Father. This was easier because He had helped me remember everything in step 4. The next was with Susan as I worked through steps 4 and 5 in parallel. She asked me for details as I went through my initial inventory and I answered every question no matter how difficult. These were hard discussions and she expressed hurt, anger, frustration, confusion and sometimes faith, hope and encouragement. This lead to further prayer to complete my inventory and each time I talked with Susan. It was a wonderful day when I finally received confirmation that I had remembered and told Susan everything. Having gone through my full list in detail, makes it easier to tell Susan of my daily struggles with thoughts and temptations as I fight to clear my mind of 30 years of filth.

I made a full confession to my bishop, stake president and a church disciplinary council. I actually feared this more than confessing to Susan. My bishop explained what I needed to confess to him, but I didn’t really trust my judgement. I wanted to make sure I was clean at the end of this process so I read my entire list. I learned that the disciplinary counsel is for healing and repentance and not for punishment and shame. It became a journey I wanted to go through to receive full forgiveness and know that I was forgiven. My fear was replaced by a concern that I would forget to confess something that would hinder my healing and repentance process. After confessing to the counsel, I walked up to Susan, put my arms around her and said “I did it!” I felt relief and peace that I had confessed everything to myself, the Lord, my bishop, and to my wife – no more secrets. I continued to feel peace from the spirit as I learned of my church discipline and knew that I was solidly on the path for complete forgiveness.




Don’t Go It Alone

Susan is sharing her progress through recovery with us this year.

Recently I watched a CNN special on addiction.  It was very well done!  At the end of the special they opened it up to questions from the audience.  A family member of an addict asked what you should do first if you find you have an addicted loved one.  Their answer was “Don’t try to go it alone.”

Going it alone was my first instinct.  “I don’t want anyone to know.” “What impact will this have on my family?” “What will my children think of their father?” “What will people think of me?” All scary questions and thoughts, but none of which ended up being negative.

People knew that something awful was going on.  I completely dropped out of life.  I lost weight at an alarming rate, 9 pounds in 9 days.  Family and friends wanted to help, but didn’t know what was going on or how to help.  Allowing others in, as I chose to and who I chose to, was very key in the beginning of my recovery.

We told the kids right away.  I learned in a seminar that “In the absence of information we tell ourselves a story.”  And that is what was happening.  My children tried to fill in the blanks with a story they were telling themselves, they thought I was dying, had some sort of terminal illness and they were responding to that.  Telling them what it really was gave them something real to deal with and start to heal.  When we try to deal with the imaginary, no progress happens.  Our counselor told us that “The higher the level of accountability, the higher the rate of recovery.” Jeff became accountable to me and to our kids right in the beginning.  Also our children experienced a level of trust that we were being honest with them, no matter what the subject was.

Jeff gave me permission to seek support from my closest friends, which I did.  The “What will people think of me?” was being put to the test here.  I received love, comfort, support, help, no judgment.  People that really love us, will love us through the worst, too. I had wanted to keep this secret, not letting anyone know, relying only on the Lord.  Now, I could not have progressed in any way without the Lord’s help, but I go back to the inspired words of Spencer W. Kimball: “God does notice us, and he watches over us.  But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” As we allow these other people to meet our needs we are blessed in our recoveries.

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As I have progressed in my recovery I have been blessed to meet others that are on the same journey.  Support groups are an absolute must!  I see the difference clearly when I have not been working my program or attending the meetings.  Often it is life blood for me and my recovery.  It is so easy to be pulled back down into the pit of doubt and despair.  As the spouse of an addict, the worry of him returning to his addiction is a daily thing.  It was all in secret before; if I can’t see it now, is it back in secret again?  A need that I have from my husband is constant validation of where he is in his recovery.  In turn this helps raise his level of accountability and rate of recovery.

Our hands are the Lord’s hands.  At times our hands are giving and other times they are receiving.  Receiving is harder for me and is something I continue to learn through this process.  Attending support groups is both giving and receiving.  Echoing the answer that was given in the CNN special of “Don’t try to go it alone” I add to that the second thing would be to go to support groups!  These are rooms of recovery filled with hands of hope.

Please reach out, there is always a hand somewhere reaching back. I will be forever grateful for the hands that reached back for me.

The Risk and Reward of Change

From Meghan

Elder Marvin J. Ashton said: “Every worthy change means risk–the risk of losing an old and damaging habit for a new and improved way of life. If fear and an unwillingness to take the risk and challenge of the better way of life gain the upper hand, we will not be able to change…. Even the chains of fear can be broken by those who will humbly seek God’s help and strength.” Humility is mentioned three times in Ether 12:27: “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” Humility is an essential part of preparing to have God remove my character weaknesses.


I think the most important thing for me in becoming ready to ask God to remove my character weaknesses is that I trust that He can do it, that He’s willing to do it, and that I am truly ready to offer them up–to let go of the things I’ve clung to for safety and to instead reach out and grasp the hand the Lord offers me.

What will I be giving up? I have identified four things to offer up to the Lord at this time: Anger, Fear, Low Self-worth, and Pride.

Anger isn’t safety – it’s self harm. I thought I was protecting myself with anger, but safety comes from hearing and following the spirit. Without anger I would be able feel the Spirit, because anger drives away the Spirit. I would be able receive direction and comfort.

Fear makes me vulnerable to catastrophes that haven’t happened. It makes me live in a world of impending doom continuously. If I give away fear, I can receive peace and the strength to meet real challenges without dreading imagined ones. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Low self-worth is a combination of a focus on me combined with a focus on my fears. It makes me feel that I am not worthy to receive, or that people wouldn’t want to be around me. When I see myself through God’s eyes, I see the potential for good. And that gives me both hope and power.

Pride manifests itself when I am judgmental of others. One of my favorite scriptures is Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” If I love mercy, I will show it to others as well as receive it myself.

As I look at all of these, what I give up is not safety but misery-inducing behaviors. What I receive is not risk, but greater trust in the Lord and safety wrapped in the arms of His love.

Change of Disposition


From Duane

Step 6 Change of Heart

What is this step about in my life? Not too long ago, I was feeling disconnected, annoyed, resentful, and angry toward my wife and with my life situation, stressed by too many things to do including her expectations. I was also experiencing disturbing thoughts and feeling stronger temptations than usual. It was likely no coincidence that my wife was planning to attend the temple to seal her parents together, and to be sealed to them. I prayed earnestly to ask the Lord to help remove these disturbing thoughts and be spiritually reborn. I felt better, and we had a good visit to the temple. I still had to open up and communicate with my wife to resolve other issues, an ongoing process.

A few years ago an amazing TED talk showed that the opposite of addiction is connection. Step 6 says our isolation from God caused the fears which contributed to our addictions. The Lord wants to bless us with a change of disposition that will unite us with Him in mind and heart.

Why do we feel isolated from God? Sin does that. The more we sin, the more we want to run and hide and cover it up. That creates the isolation and fear that drive addictions. The antidote is godly sorrow which leads to humility and repentance. As we share our positive feelings with others and serve them, our sense of connectedness and community grows. These build our spiritual and emotional reserves and protect us from the shame, isolation and fear that foster addiction.

The effects of isolation are often underestimated, I believe. When Jesus suffered through the atonement, a significant part of His emotional pain came from being abandoned by His apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane and being cut off from the Spirit (see Arthur Bassett, July 1975 Ensign).

When we sin, part of our anguish comes from being cut off from the Spirit (D&C 19:20). In a recent book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, author Sebastian Junger suggests that the military’s epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where 50% of our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans apply for permanent PTSD disability even though only 10% of them saw combat, is related to isolation. Soldiers go from a world in which they’re united, interconnected and indispensable to one in which they’re isolated, without purpose, and expected to take sides in a bitterly-divided society. Talmage suggests in Jesus the Christ that Satan tempted Jesus in the Garden. Perhaps Lucifer’s approach to the Savior was “Why would you suffer for these people when they don’t care for or appreciate you or each other?” Similar thoughts underlie addiction. It is obvious how someone who was abused would feel isolated and seek shelter in an addiction.

I believe step 6 is not a one-time event, but rather a continuing process of coming back to Christ after growing complacent or unfeeling or on spiritual cruise control. This is how we feel connected to God again, and also to our family and our fellow man. It is effective addiction anti-venom. It is not coincidental that the central elements of God’s plan of happiness are the family and the Church, both of which are agents of connection. Even our work can foster meaningful connections. Good recovery meetings build bonds and connect us.

A New Heart

By Sister Lund

As I have been preparing June’s newsletter, I’m having an opportunity to once again study the meaning of “Change of Heart”.  I see Step 6 as the tipping point between my old self and my new self. God sees us in terms of Forever. Here we begin to understand His perspective of ourselves. We let ourselves be transformed by the power of His Grace into a new and better person. It truly is amazing!

A zigzag-patterned background combined with a quote by President Thomas S. Monson: “Difficulties allow us to change for the better.”