Thankful for the Journey

I love mountains! And because of where we live we took advantage of the location and went to see the biggest one. Everest! Now, I am a romantic and when I read the brochures put out by touring companies I believe them.  In this particular one there was a tent and behind it was the majestic Mount Everest against a clear blue sky. Beautiful! I thought once we were in Tibet, surely we would be able to see this same sight. Well, that wasn’t the case.  After landing there we drove for 2 days before we were able to see it, and it was cloudy at that! The plan was that on the third day we would go to Base Camp and have an even grander view. And…that didn’t happen either. We had come so far and such a long way! But the clouds covered most of Everest and it did not look like the brochure! We waited a while and some clouds moved off, but we still had a difficult time seeing the summit.

Mt Everest

So, what is this travel log doing in my article? I learned a few things from this experience.  First, my idea of how something will be and what really happens is frequently different. Second, just because I can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Third, letting some time pass can provide clarity and give me a better perspective.

Recovery is certainly the largest mountain I have had to climb. It is not something that is easy or can be conquered in a short period of time. I also need to rely on others that have made this climb before and have a better perspective than I do. I am a ways off the summit (no, we did not go to the summit of Everest, we stopped at Base Camp) but every step up the mountain gets me closer, even if it can’t be seen behind the clouds. I don’t have to see it clearly to know I am making progress.

Discouragement, fear and anger are big blocks along the trail up the mountain. Step 7 of the Spouse and Family Support Guide is “In Everything Give Thanks.” The first time I read that I thought, “Really? How? I’m not seeing it!” Thankfully there are wise people that are further on this journey and can see where I am. These are their wise words from this step, “Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope or expect. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by discouragement, fear and anger.  Satan uses such feelings as an opportunity to attack us and lead us to self-criticism and finding fault in others. The more we focus on negative emotions, the stronger they become, until they begin to dominate our thoughts, diminishing our ability to feel the Spirit and find happiness.”

In the beginning I could not see at all a way to give thanks in this situation.  As I have attended support groups frequently I would hear, “I am not happy for how this happened, but I am grateful for what I am learning through it.” Those have been my feelings too. I am very grateful for the relationship that I have with my Savior, for humbling experiences that allow me to see what I could not have otherwise. Standing at the summit of a climb, I give thanks for the journey because that is what made the view possible.


Total Surrender to God

I used to believe that if I said my prayers, read a few verses of scripture, and went to church and fulfilled my callings, that was a Christ-centered life.

But all my trust was in people my husband, sister, bishops, friends, and then I used God to “fill in the gaps.”

Now I believe something different about God and about the role He plays in my life. God first isn’t just read, pray, and write first in the morning. Those things are important and there are specific and special blessings attached to them. But it’s even more than that. It’s that I make space and allow Heavenly Father to be omnipresent in my life. In everything. He is in the details. He is in the general occurrences. I trust Him and His boundaries, I trust His way, I trust in His path and seek Him in my daily walk. All throughout the day.

But I’m realizing more and more Heavenly Father won’t force Himself into my day. He won’t interfere with my agency. So I have to invite Him on my walk, every day. And surrender my fears, nearly every day or every other day. It’s hard, and some days I just feel like sitting down in the middle of my path and not moving. Which He allows! He doesn’t stop me if I don’t’ want to progress on a given day. But He gives me strength to get up and go further than I could alone when I invite Him to walk with me again.

I have always loved Heavenly Father. And I have always sought a relationship with my Savior. But over the last few months my focus has been on a relationship with my Heavenly Father, and it is sweeter than any other I have ever known. He really does know us and love us!

“Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear.”(D&C 136:32)



Waiting on the Lord

From Julia

Even though it may not seem like it, it is a universal truth that everyone has problems. In the October 1995 General Conference, President Monson said,

Life is full of difficulties, some minor and others of a more serious nature. There seems to be an unending supply of challenges for one and all. Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required.

I personally don’t like to think about patience when something is wrong. I recently had another episode of depression, and of course it was not convenient. As usual, I didn’t want to figure out what the triggers were, instead I prayed fervently to have the depression taken away. And, as usual, I received the answer that this is my burden. I was reminded of Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s teaching that all suffering can be categorized into one of three types: suffering caused by one’s own actions, suffering caused by the actions of others, or suffering given to us by God (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 1979).

My depression is the third type of suffering and will not likely be taken away. It gives me experience and under its heavy weight I am strengthened. The blessings of living with this difficulty are only realized as I patiently “wait on the Lord.” I don’t like feeling this depression, not for a minute, let alone for a lifetime.

While I was thinking about this I got an email from Susan, The Arbor’s guest writer, in which she wrote about needing patience in her circumstances:

I don’t think that Patience and I are very good friends.  I don’t like to be patient, I don’t like to wait, I want to have things fixed quickly.  I remember being in one of the first ARP meetings that I attended in the summer of 2012.  I had only known about Jeff’s addiction for about 3 months and just wanted all of those hurt feelings to go away.  The sister that was the facilitator of the meeting shared her hurt and hopeless feelings that she had experienced in discovering her husband’s addiction.  She said that she felt those for 8 months before she started in her recovery.  I thought, “8 Months!!!  I don’t want to feel this way for 8 more minutes!!!” …   Oh I wanted to be out of the pain, hurt, sadness, disbelief…..but I was beginning, however beginning does not mean without hope or without peace.  Peace comes, even in times of complete and utter desperation.  Hope comes, no matter how small.  As we exercise patience in our lives and with others, the Lord is patient with us. We will feel His peace, we will have hope in Him.

I’ve been involved with the Addiction Recovery Program for roughly 10 years and have met people with a wide variety of difficulties. Attending support group meetings and reading and studying the Step material found in the workbooks benefits all of us in our unique circumstances because it teaches us how to turn to the Lord, cast our burdens on Him, and continue to rely on Him throughout our lives. In short, applying the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has helped me learn how to be patient in my affliction, to wait on the Lord, and let Him carry me through the difficult times. Doing this has given me hope, brought me peace, and strengthened me when I would have otherwise given into weariness.

President Monson concluded his talk by saying, “Patience, that heavenly virtue, had brought to humble Saints its heaven-sent reward. The words of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Recessional’ seemed so fitting:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget.”

Click here to see President Monson’s talk.

I Need Thee Every Hour: Winning the Fight

From Mark

“Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear.”  (D&C 136:32)

Every hour of every day is a fight for me. A fight to stay clean and sober, and to maintain the ground I’ve gained. I’m asked the questions, “Why are you fighting? Why don’t you just give up?” God has blessed me this day to live. What will I do with it?

The battle to recognize the pain and destruction caused by my actions was hard. I learned a valued lesson. I’m ultimately a good man. Winning this battle requires transparent and full disclosure. And Hope. Repentance is possible! God is real. Jesus Lives. He is the Son of the Most High God! He loves me, knows me, and will succor me if I but humble myself to hear his voice over all the other noise in the world. I am fighting to keep the Spirit!

I fight to keep my amazing wife! I give service to her. One morning last month, my wife and I had a discussion that meant more to me than I think it did to her. The point was simply that I’m getting better, and that’s progression. It hit me hard. It felt nice to hear. Together we are fighting for our family.

Each day I fight with the understanding of the simple fact that I’m a dad. I serve and teach my children. And I’m doing it, humbled that it is a simple and beautiful job. I’m happy to fight for my amazing family.

David vs Goliath meme

There are many trigger dates coming up. These are dates with memories attached which could cause me to slip or even relapse. There are too many people from the past I will remember or with whom I will cross paths. They could be triggers. Satan wants to have influence over me. I fight to forgive. I’m choosing to submit to the Father and lean not on my understanding, but on His alone. I can look to Christ and through Him all things are possible. I like what C.S. Lewis said:

I pray because I can’t help myself.
I pray because I’m helpless.
I pray because the need flows out of me
all the time — waking and sleeping.
It doesn’t change God.
It changes me.

I’m not the perfect soldier yet, but I will not give up on this fight. God knows and loves me and all of us. With His help our trials can be overcome, one hour and one day at a time.

Ready to Let Go

Step Seven

From msd

I was scared going into my meeting. I do trust God, I do have faith in the Atonement, I do believe that God can turn my weaknesses into strengths, I do believe that turning to Him in faith to ask Him to remove my shortcomings will strengthen my faith in very desirable ways—but I am terrified of giving up what has been my safety all my life. I am scared of the vulnerability to hurt and pain and destruction that will result from having my shortcomings removed, those admittedly undesirable traits that have protected me. How can I live without them?

I thought of a mighty change of heart, a new heart, a “clean heart and a right spirit” as being me at my very best, with all of my good qualities in the forefront and my negative ones nicely tucked away. But now I realize it is a real change, a change from who I am to someone infinitely better, someone who’s not hanging onto those coping mechanisms for a rainy day. It’s not a tidied-up stony heart the Lord promises, it’s a new heart, a fleshy heart, a heart that can be bruised. A heart that’s willing to break. A heart that can take risks because it trusts in the Lord and not in behaviors that were protective when I didn’t know there was a better alternative.

But I still feel like I’m clinging to a trapeze, unwilling to let go and reach for the next ring that will carry me forward. I’m just so scared to let go. And I can’t ask Him to remove my shortcomings until I’m ready to relax my grip on them.


This is what I can do: I can observe my shortcomings. I can see when I use them, observe how I retreat into them, simply observe without judgment and without shame. Yesterday I was mad at something. I asked myself “why?” and realized it was from fear of being unseen, of not mattering, of a whole gender not mattering. When I recognized that, I also realized that I am not a child, with a child’s limited resources. I can respond in more effective ways than just anger. But for now, I’m just going to continue to observe. That feels right, and if I don’t complete this step in a week, there are more weeks to come.

We read today: “We surrender our weakness and patiently wait for the process to begin, and ‘suddenly, it becomes time to change. We begin to notice that behavior. We bump into it, over and over again…. I’ve noticed that the closer I come to being healed of a certain defect or issue, the harder it becomes to live with myself and that issue. It glares. It bites. It stands right there in my way.’ …the Spirit of the Lord will prompt us when we are faced with situations where our weaknesses are easily manifested ‘giving us opportunities either to repeat our same old responses or practice something new.’ …Rather than expecting instant perfection, we should focus on progressing one day at a time. …We accept ourselves, as we travel at our own pace towards spiritual growth.”

So for now, when I feel anger arising, I will simply observe and ask myself “What am I protecting against?” And I will trust the process and the Lord to take the time that is needed to start a mighty change