Waiting at the Crossroads of Life

“Experiencing one miscarriage after another felt like a series of stoplights in my life, but as I turned to the Lord, I found that each loss was accompanied by peace, perspective, and growth.

“My fingers clenched the steering wheel as I stared anxiously at the red light. When it finally changed to green, I sped forward only to wait at another seemingly endless stoplight. I was still 10 minutes away from the lesson with the sister missionaries that was supposed to have started 5 minutes ago. If I had been a wiser mother, I would have predicted the 15-minute tantrum my almost-three-year-old daughter erupted into as we headed out the door, but I hadn’t. Yes, the world would go on if I was late, but since I was trying to do something good, didn’t I deserve at least some of the traffic lights to work in my favor? As I waited impatiently at yet another stoplight, I could feel my frustration tightening into anger. “I’m trying to do something good; trying my best! Where is the help I need?”

“Twenty months earlier, I had found myself asking parallel questions in a parallel situation, only in a place with all the peace and serenity that my stoplight moment lacked.”

We’re grateful for the insights Marianne, one of our previous posters and Healing Through Christ friend, shares in her heartfelt story. Read the rest of this beautiful account at the website Church of Jesus Christ.org

 

Step Four Inventory

We are delighted to share a recording of the first hour from our Step Four Inventory Writing Retreat held on April 27, 2019. While some participants were able to call in and participant with the group remotely, we know that others who wanted to join us were not free at that time. We recorded the first part of our meeting and you can listen here

We still have some resources available on a Google Drive Folder. We collected a variety of ways of approaching a Step Four inventory, so you can look there and see what resonates for you today. Thanks to everyone who helped make the day a success, and may each of you find clarity and understanding as you build your inventory!

Rest From Our Struggles

In Step One of Healing Through Christ, we “come to understand and accept that we are powerless over the [behavior] of a loved one and recognize that our lives have become unmanageable.”

Coming to understand implies that there is a change in our interpretation of the situation.  We see it differently than we have before.  When we accept something, we admit that it is going to exist whether we want it to or not.  With this recognition, we also realize that there is no longer a need for resistance on our part.  If it’s going to happen anyway, is there really any reason to fight it?

 

Rest from struggles

So what exactly are we learning to understand and accept in this step?  It is our own powerlessness over others.  This is not an easy truth to understand or accept.  Our loved ones are important to us, and we naturally want to send them down the right path.  We would hate to see them make a mistake or experience pain.  We want to tell them everything we think they should do and know because we want them to succeed.  We worry about them, and we feel that it’s our obligation to do all we can to make sure they have the lives we want for them.  This is all very well-intended, but there’s a problem.

Our Heavenly Father sent us to this life as part of a wonderful plan, and the most important factor in that plan is our agency.  Each individual child of God has been given the gift to choose.  When we make our own choices, we learn.  Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we fail, but the lessons learned through this life’s experiences are critical for the growth we were sent here to achieve.  For many of us, it is easier to protect our own agency than to respect the agency of another, especially when that person is someone close and special to us.  However, when we interfere with our loved ones exercising their agency, our lives become unmanageable.

The inability to manage our own lives is result of pain, frustration, resentment, disappointment, grief, fear, worry, and other negative emotions that occur when someone else’s choices are different than what we think best.  Trying to manage another person leaves little energy for our own needs and usually doesn’t help them either.  Even if our help is sometimes desired by others, they might still miss valuable learning experiences if we’re not careful about how much we’re getting in the way of their ability to find solutions to their own problems.

Step One invites us to rest from the struggles we have faced as we’ve tried so desperately to take care of everyone else’s issues.  It reminds us that Heavenly Father is aware of His children, and He has a customized plan for each of us.  We can trust Him and allow Him to reach our loved ones in ways that we could never do on our own and sometimes in ways we would never even imagine possible.  He loves them more than we can understand, and He wants to bless them and touch their lives.  We can give all our concerns to Him.  We’re reminded in The Promise of Step One that “We feel relief and freedom as we embrace the spiritual truth that, on our own, we are powerless and we gratefully come to recognize and accept that we are not the saviors of our…loved ones or ourselves.  There is only one who can rescue and save any of us–our Savior, Jesus Christ. (p.13)”

 

[Thanks to Britney for submitting this post. If you would like to submit a post that reflects your hope, faith, and experience with the Steps, please send it to thearborkalamazoo@gmail.com]

Step Four Writing Retreat

Healing Through Christ Michigan is hosting a Writing Retreat on Saturday, April 27th, from 9 am to 4 pm. You are welcome to join us and work on your Step Four Inventory in companionship with other friends in recovery.

writingWe will have a pot luck lunch, and you are welcome to bring a dish to contribute. In addition, there will be some breaks for a nature walk and sharing our experience and insights, as desired. Because many of the participants in our meetings call in from all over the country, we will have a call-in option for the first 45 mins or so of the day. During that time we will be discussing the benefits of a Step Four inventory and various ways in which it can be done. You can join us by calling (781) 448-0376 at 9 am Eastern Daylight Time. After the end of the welcome and introduction, we will close the phone line and invite participants to start writing, wherever they may be.

We have some resources available that describe different ways of doing a Step Four inventory, from a spreadsheet and checkboxes, to a storytelling/journal style, to questions/prompts. We have these available for you as a Google Drive Doc. Please click on this link to access these: Step Four Writing Resources. We suggest you view these before the Retreat, decide if you would like to use any, and download or print them out in advance. Also, if you are intending to attend in person, please email us at megdecker@gmail.com to let us know you will be coming or ask questions.

 

Take a Step Today

Next week our Healing Through Christ Family Support meetings will begin again with the Introduction to Step One. This is a great time to join us, either in person or by phone. We have many phone meetings, and they have the advantage of providing access to people regardless of their location. Participants can join and listen only, or they can help with the reading and share. These meetings become powerful sources of support and love.

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While our workbook talks about having a loved one in addiction, in fact many of the people who come to our group meetings have other challenges that they are facing. The Steps help us to experience hope and healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, regardless of the specific circumstances of our lives. Our focus is on the solution, not the problem, so often we don’t know why people come to our groups, unless at some point they decide to share their struggle. We support each other in coming to Christ—it doesn’t matter where we are coming from.

Emotional and spiritual healing for self and relationships come as a result of these principles, among others, that we learn as we work the Steps:

  • Learning how to distinguish between negative thoughts and negative emotions and the appropriate way to respond to each
  • Respecting agency; honoring the process of personal growth
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Emotionally detaching from obsessing over others’ problems without detaching from the person
  • Understanding the emotional stages at work in our own and other’s lives
  • Recognizing in ourselves codependent rescuing, persecuting, and suffering behaviors
  • Trusting God to work in another’s life
  • Placing hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ
  • Learning how to believe in and experience the healing power of the Atonement of
  • Jesus Christ
  • Clearing away clutter that interferes with our ability to hear and respond to the Spirit
  • Using tools such as a gratitude journal, fear list, and forgiveness practice to combine the power of emotional and spiritual healing

No problem-solving that happens in meetings; we have no cross-talk, so no one is giving advice to another person. All solutions come through the Spirit. In meetings we simply read the Steps and the Spirit teaches and inspires the individual to find solutions, hope, and healing through the Savior’s Atonement.

We discover how to experience the grace of Jesus Christ as a healing and enabling power in our lives every day. We see others who are in the process of using the Atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome a variety of challenges we don’t feel safe discussing at church; witnessing that success gives us hope for ourselves. When we survey anonymous participants about the ways in which Healing Through Christ meetings helped them or others, they list these challenges that were helped through the meetings and working the Steps.

  • Strained relationship with a spouse
  • Healthy ways of relating with adult children
  • Ways to preserve relationships in spite of concerns over wayward child such as
    • Children who leave the church
    • Children who develop drug or other addictions
    • Children who have come out as gay or lesbian
  • Life-threatening health crisis in children or grandchildren
  • Diagnosis of chronic health condition
  • Caring for children or adult family members with special needs
  • Caring for aging parents
  • Adult children who make poor financial, educational, or relationship decisions
  • Crisis of faith
  • Loss of a loved one to suicide
  • Relationship challenges without resorting to negative responses
  • Creating internal boundaries that prevent rushing into rescue or fix children or teenagers
  • Trusting children to make decisions and learn from their own experience, rather than trying to manage their lives
  • Emotional stages of response to trauma, loss, change in circumstances, etc.
  • Strained relationships as a result of codependent behavior
  • Deep, hidden anger and learning how to heal through the 12 Steps and the Atonement of Jesus Christ
  • Sexual tensions in a marriage— trying to set boundaries for what is acceptable behavior
  • Anger at family and church leaders after traumatic events
  • Fear as a result of job loss or marital problems; learning tools to process fear and let go and turn everything over to God
  • Struggles with depression and feelings of isolation
  • Struggles with anxiety and fear
  • Aftermath of childhood physical and sexual abuse
  • Struggle to stay faithful to covenants as a member with same-sex attraction
  • Emotionally abusive marriage
  • Effects of attachment disorders from childhood
  • Sexual and other addictions
  • Bitterness from a contentious divorce
  • Anger at church members or leaders that led to inactivity
  • Need to develop a deeper ability to forgive
  • Struggle to understand the nature of addiction and why loved ones turn to the addiction when they promise and intend to stop
  • Need for a place that is safe to process difficult memories and find hope for the future
  • Opportunity to see others who are in the process of using the Atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome a variety of challenges we don’t feel safe discussing at church

While every week is a great week to start coming to meetings, we will be starting from Step One over the next few weeks. Come join us by finding a meeting on our phone meeting page. You will feel love and acceptance and hope.

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness Brings Peace and Joy

“Heber J. Grant was a junior member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. He participated in a Church court in which a fellow member of the Quorum of the Twelve was excommunicated. In the ensuing years, this man came several times before the court to ask for rebaptism. His request was denied each time, but eventually every member of the Quorum of Twelve consented to rebaptism except Elder Grant. Elder Grant felt that because of the magnitude of the sin [adultery] and this man’s former position in the Church, he should never be forgiven. At this time Elder Grant was brought to truly understand Doctrine and Covenants 64:10. Following is Elder Grant’s own description of how this came about: “I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants through for the third or fourth time systematically, and I had my bookmark in it, but as I picked it up, instead of opening where the bookmark was, it opened to D&C 64:10: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” I closed the book and said: “If the devil applies for baptism, and claims that he has repented, I will baptize him.’

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“After lunch I returned to the office of President Taylor and said, ‘President Taylor, I have had a change of heart. One hour ago I said, never while I live did I expect to ever consent that Brother So and So should be baptized, but I have come to tell you he can be baptized, so far as I am concerned.’ President Taylor had a habit, when he was particularly pleased, of sitting up and laughing and shaking his whole body, and he laughed and said, ‘My boy, the change is very sudden, very sudden. I want to ask you a question. How did you feel when you left here an hour ago? Did you feel like you wanted to hit that man squarely between the eyes and knock him down?’

“I said, ‘That is just the way I felt.’ He said, ‘How do you feel now?’ ‘Well, to tell you the truth, President Taylor, I hope the Lord will forgive the sinner.’ He said, ‘You feel happy, don’t you, in comparison? You had the spirit of anger, you had the spirit of bitterness in your heart toward that man, because of his sin and because of the disgrace he had brought upon the Church. And now you have the spirit of forgiveness and you really feel happy, don’t you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I do . . . now I feel happy’”

President Taylor explained to Elder Grant: “Forgiveness is in advance of justice, where there is repentance, and that to have in your heart the spirit of forgiveness and to eliminate from your hearts the spirit of hatred and bitterness, brings peace and joy; that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings joy, peace and happiness to every soul that lives it and follows its teachings.”   (Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, October 1920, 2–11)

Recovery Workbook Now Available

The Arbor
The Healing Through Christ Recovery Workbook is now available! This workbook is designed to help men, women, and teenagers who are trapped in sexual addiction find healing and recovery. It is a companion to the Healing Through Christ Family Support Workbook, which is intended for those with a loved one in addiction. The Recovery workbook will support people with sexual and other addictions as they work the 12 Steps and come to Christ for hope and healing.
The Recovery workbook is over 300 pages, and it is divided into individual sections to work each week. You can now order hard copies of the workbook at www.healingthroughchrist.org. The cost is $29.95 and includes shipping. A Kindle version will soon be available for download, and it will cost $14.95.
The Working the Steps section was not included in the workbook itself, but it is currently in final development and will be available at the Healing Through Christ website.
Right now we have one women’s meeting in Michigan that uses the Recovery Workbook. It meets on Tuesday nights at 7:30 pm; more information is available at https://thearborkalamazoo.com/phone-in-meetings/ We currently don’t have a men’s meeting.
We’re excited this day has finally arrived!

Phone Meetings Bring Hearts Together, Too

from Meghan

When I first attended Healing Through Christ 12-Step meetings, I was fortunate to find a meeting 15 minutes from my house. I was able to gather in person with other women and witness the success of the 12 Steps in their life and receive support from the group as I began my own 12-Step journey. I loved how safe I felt in meetings, and I was grateful for the love and acceptance I experienced. I felt a profound sense of loss when I could no longer attend the meetings, and I stopped working the steps.

A few years later I was introduced to phone meetings. But what about the personal connection? What about the feeling of a safe space? What about the love and acceptance I felt from the other people in the meeting? I was grateful for the chance to read and learn about the steps again, but I anticipated missing the sense of community and support I felt in face-to-face meetings.

Boy, was I wrong! I treasure the two phone meetings I attend now, and I feel that precious safety and support from my phone groups. I may not know the other members of the group in person, but I know their hearts and they know mine, and I trust and love each of them. Phone meetings are fantastic, and in fact, they have some advantages over face-to-face meetings.

Phone meetings “are held to eliminate travel, make meetings accessible to more people, and provide a degree of anonymity that is not possible in a face-to-face meeting.” During a polar vortex, when the governor has declared a snow emergency, I continue to participate in my weekly meeting without having to leave my home. People who have limited mobility are not limited in their ability to attend. Those in an area where there are no local meetings can still be part of a vibrant group meeting on a regular basis. When I travel, I call into my meetings faithfully. If you have access to a phone, you can attend a meeting.

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Importantly, we remind participants who call in that while they are welcome to read and share, it is also perfectly acceptable to listen only. This provides newcomers an opportunity to “learn the ropes” and become comfortable with the group before speaking up. Sometimes no one knows about the challenge they are facing, and they can preserve their privacy until they are ready to become an active participant in the group. This is one of the unique advantages of a phone group. It may seem odd, but those who regularly listen only also become an important part of the group. They contribute in spirit, even if they never say a word, and their presence is felt.

Perhaps the most valuable advantage to me is that while I am part of the group, I feel more connected to my Heavenly Father when I am calling in from home. I am not thinking about other’s facial expression, or my own, or checking in to see how others are reacting. I am free to listen more attentively to the Spirit. This attentiveness certainly happens in face-to-face meetings, too, and perhaps this is a distinction that is not shared by many, but I feel more attuned to the Spirit and more likely to write down promptings when I am calling in from my own home by myself. However, I still feel supported by the group, still feel that I can talk about hard things and feel the presence of loving witnesses, still feel the unity of a group walking the same healing path into the Savior’s arms.

Have you tried a phone meeting yet? Do you know someone who would love to be part of a Healing Through Christ 12-Step meeting, but they live far from the closest meeting? All of our meetings have a call-in option; in fact, many of our meetings are call-in only, with no physical meeting space. There are meetings throughout the week, in the morning, evenings, and late evenings after children’s bedtimes. If you know someone who is nervous about calling in alone the first time, invite them over to your home and call in together.

There is so much flexibility with phone meetings; they can meet needs in many different ways. What is consistent is the support and love and insight that we gain from other members of the group as we work this healing program together and feel the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ working in our lives and hearts every day.

Try a meeting this week! You can find a list of our meetings, in the Eastern Time Zone, at https://thearborkalamazoo.com/phone-in-meetings/ or a variety of other meetings listed at http://www.healingthroughchrist.org/support-meetings/

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Desire to Change

Step Six invites me start with my heart, as I prepare to surrender my weaknesses to God. In previous steps I laid a foundation by turning to Him in trust, examining my life, and identifying the recurring patterns of weaknesses that have undermined my happiness and relationships. Now I “humbly and prayerfully seek the spiritual gift of a change of heart” (Healing Through Christ, p. 59).

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It can be frightening and discouraging to admit our weaknesses and prepare to release them. After all, at times they have been our protection, when we had no where else to turn, no other way to cope, no refuge to run to in our search for safety. But as we work the steps, we begin to find new ways to approach our challenges, and we can let go of “devices that once protected us but have now become self-defeating” (Melody Beattie, Codependent’s Guide to the Twelve Steps).

This process was frightening to me because I’ve had a self-critical voice in my head for most of my life, and it felt like focusing on my weaknesses would just feed that voice and make it stronger. But in this step I will be working with the Lord, and the familiar voice of shame is not His. That shaming, hurtful voice comes from Satan, whose name literally means “the accuser.” In Revelation 12:10-11 we read

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony

I know that voice that accuses me day and night: it points out all of my failings, it tells me to hide in silence and shame, it convinces me I will never change. It is the voice of the accuser. But that voice is a liar.

I am beginning to recognize the voice of my Advocate, Jesus Christ. He offers salvation and strength and entry into the Kingdom of God. His blood overcomes the accuser and renders him powerless. His voice helps me see my flaws when I ask, but that gentle awareness is always accompanied by hope through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Spirit tells me that I can change, that He will help me, that through His power I can be transformed. I don’t need to be afraid or be ashamed. As the Lord invites me to see “what I lack yet,” I can become ready to release my grip on weaknesses that have been my lifelong companions, and turn to God with trust that He will help me to come unto Him and be healed.

News that is New!

We have an exciting announcement! There is a new Healing Through Christ phone-in meeting that will start on Thursday, November 8 at 10 am.  As with all other meetings the week of November 4, the reading material for this meeting will be the Introduction, on page 1, in the Healing Through Christ Family Support Workbook. We are pleased to have a daytime meeting later in the week.

As we start over again with the Introduction this week and Step One next, it is a wonderful time to begin a journey through the Twelve Steps. Feel free to invite friends to join you (any time is a great time, though, right?). We have seen growth in several of our meetings, and we are grateful to be able to help more people find hope and healing through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

We have completed the transition to a new phone system, and you can find meeting information, including phone numbers, at the phone-in meetings page on this website.

We are also pleased to announce that we currently have a pilot  meeting for the Healing Through Christ Recovery program,  a powerful program focused on recovery from sexual addictions. It is currently a phone-in group that gathers on Tuesday nights. This meeting is for women only, but we have information on how to join a men’s meeting based in Utah. The reading material for this meeting is currently sent out weekly, so if you would like to join contact us at thearborkalamazoo@gmail.com, and we can arrange for you to be added to the email list, as well as give you more information for how to join the meeting. We hope to add a men’s meeting in Michigan soon.

Finally, we have relocated some of our groups. While most of our meetings are phone-in only, a few face-to-face groups are gathering in homes, and our Wednesday night men and women’s meeting in the Kalamazoo area now meets at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church at 1150 West Centre Ave in Portage, MI. We are grateful for their enthusiastic and gracious welcome, and hope you can join us in our new location.