Step 12: The Guy In The Library

So I did something impulsive today... It was super good! :)

THE GUY IN THE LIBRARY
I was sitting on the second floor of the library and sat next to this guy who was browsing the web with unusually small windows. I immediately thought of how I've peeked at inappropriate material on school computers in a public venue using smaller windows.

Being the nosy person I am, I wanted to see if this guy had similar issues to me. So I looked at what he was looking at. He was looking at NBA stuff. But then he did a google image search on something inappropriate.

I suddenly got a very sad feeling. I thought I'd feel better knowing I was right, but I felt worse instead. My heart ached for this guy. So, I was inspired to whip out my yellow legal pad and I addressed a note to him.

MY NOTE
"Hey Man, ..."  I explained that I was an addict and that whether or not he was, was none of my business. But, that I acknowledged that I've been in the same exact situation--ritualizing, and browsing inappropriate media on a public computer, with someone sitting next to me.

I told him that I hurt for him, and that I was there for him. I left my name and number, and a reference to fightthenewdrug.org in case he didn't feel comfortable reaching out. I told him I'd support him in any way possible.

I folded it up like a letter, slid it towards him, tapped him on the shoulder (he was using ear phones) and said, "Hi, my name is Cody. I hope you're not offended or embarrassed."

Then I went to class.

HIS RESPONSE
I checked my phone after class.  I received this text message,

"Hey Cody. Thanks. Really thank you. After that I exited the screen and got off the computer. Thanks for reminding me that is not who I want to be. When you gave me that letter I didn't know what to expect. I was thinking it was going to say how horrible I was and that I am going to hell or something. I don't know if you believe in God but I felt like God reached out to me in the moment that I read your letter. 

When I read your note I immediately started to cry. Instead of being condemning it was understanding. I just thought wow someone cares enough to help me. I thought I was the only crazy person who was crazy enough to do that. I started off with good intentions to do school stuff and then I slowly got too complacent."

I was walking away from my class, being filled with the spirit. I knew that I had done what God wanted me to do this afternoon.

The Real Pain Caused by Relapse

How many of us try to minimize a relapse by calling it a "slip-up" or some other term. Are we perhaps minimizing our actions so much that we may be relapsing weekly with no real consequences. But in doing so we are being dishonest with ourselves and seriously hurting our loved ones.

The following are direct quotes from the Spouse and Family Support Guide.  This Guide and the corresponding weekly meetings are provided to help our loved ones understand that they are not at fault for our addiction.  And also to help them learn how they might better support us in our recovery.

Please read the paragraphs below from the "Support Guide" with an open mind to see how your actions might be affecting those you love the most.

Principle 11: Responding Appropriately to Relapse 

Relapse occurs when a person slides back into bad choices after partial recovery. Relapse is very common and may range from a single incident to a complete return to former patterns. Because relapse is so common, some may rationalize that it is part of recovery as long as they are doing their best. However, it is important to remember that relapse is not part of the recovery process. We should be careful not to condone our loved ones’ excuses or justifications for their poor choices. 

Chronic relapse indicates that our loved ones have not yet fully recovered. It may mean that loved ones need to make greater efforts and receive more intensive treatment. We may need to set additional boundaries or limits with them. If our loved ones try to minimize the seriousness of a relapse, our clear and honest perspective can help them see that they are deceiving themselves and need additional help.

It is important to respond appropriately to our loved ones’ relapses, not only to help us heal but also to help them in their recovery. Enabling or ignoring their behavior may perpetuate their behavior and increase our suffering. They need to understand that we love them but that we cannot condone continued poor choices and their rationalizing their decisions. We can lovingly and honestly respond to their relapse and rationalizations to help them understand how their actions affect us and themselves. We can support others with “love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41) while also clearly communicating our feelings of disapproval of their behavior “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love” (D&C 121:43).

It's important not to minimize a relapse.  It is harmful for us and for our loved ones if we continue to relapse and think it is somehow "normal."

Beware of Open Gates

Many of us have set up boundaries between us and a possible relapse. And those boundaries are like gates along a path. As long as we keep those gates locked and do not go down that path we will remain safe.
At times we are tempted to go down the path. And if we give in what happens? As we start down the path we begin breaking our boundaries and we unlock each gate one by one. We lie to ourselves saying, "I'm only going to go a little way down the path."
Hopefully, at some point we come to our senses and ask ourselves.  Wow!!! What am I doing???  And we immediately stop and get off the path. We do PMS -- We Pray to Heavenly Father, Move away from the path, and reach out to others for Support.  We admit to God, to ourselves, and to others what we were doing and ask for help.
Now here is where the unexpected happens. Hours or even days later we may come back to that path. And instead of running into closed gates, we find that the gates we previously opened are still open!!!  And that that point we find that we are already close to relapsing.
If we are not extremely careful in those hours or days after the first experience we will find ourselves in a relapse. That's how relapses and binges happen. And Satan is more than happy to whisper to us, "Hey you've already messed up, it doesn't matter anymore, so just keep going."

So what is the solution?  The solution is repentance. Those gates don't just close by themselves. We need to repent for each of those open gates. Then we can close them. In that process we should pray more intently, be more honest and ask Heavenly Father for His help.  At the same time we can reach out to trusted friends for support.

As a friend recently stated: "Repentance is the only way out!"
 

Preparing for Steps 4 & 5


In the five years I've been attending 12 Step meetings I estimate I have listened to shares regarding Steps 4 and 5 at least 21 times.

And in listening to those shares I have written down several notes which may be helpful for anyone who has not completed these steps.

First there is no right or wrong way to do the Step 4 Inventory.  I think the ARP Guide is purposely vague so that we each can rely on
the Spirit to guide us.

Suggestions Regarding Writing Your Inventory in Step 4

These are suggestions I have heard over the last five years.  Hopefully, as you read through these the spirit will prompt you as to which suggestions, if any, are right for your situation. They are in no particular order.
  • Pick the person you are going to read your Step 4 Inventory to up front, and make an appointment so that you then have a mental deadline to work towards. That way you will not be one of those who takes months or years working on your inventory. The future date can be anytime, even months away, but just pick a date!
  • Pray before you begin each writing session
  • If a thought enters you mind, write it down
  • If you feel like skipping something, write it down
  • If you feel too embarrassed to share something, write it down
  • If you feel this incident it too minor to write down, write it down
  • There is a reason these things are entering your mind, so include them
  • Once you begin, try to write down at least one incident a day
  • Not everything you write down has to be connected to your addiction
    Some things may only pertain to character weaknesses
  • Also include your strengths. If you're not sure what they are, ask a good friend.
  • Some guys have used a spreadsheet format; others have just written free form **
  • One friend shared that since he already had asked someone to listen in Step 5, he shared what he was writing while he was writing it. That way the person who was going to listen to his Inventory could give him suggestions along the way. He still felt he had to read the entire inventory to his friend, even though the friend had already read most of it.  He said the reading was necessary so he could hear his own voice confessing what he had done.
  • One friend admitted that he took over a year to write his inventory, it was about 80 pages in length and took him 8 hours to read it out loud to a friend.  (I don’t recommend this, but it was necessary for him to feel thorough)
  • Keep in mind that the things you are writing down are things Christ is going to take from you! So if you consider not writing down something -- think again -- stuff you don't write down is stuff you are going to keep! And you don't want to keep anything!
      
** The ARP Guide suggests possibly using a spreadsheet, but I didn't do that.  My inventory was just free-form, in a Word document, in chronological order.  However, Brandon, a good friend and facilitator, sent me a spreadsheet template that he created, which he said was very helpful when he did his Steps 4 & 5.  You may download it from This link.

Thoughts Regarding Reading Your Inventory in Step 5
  • Pick someone you feel comfortable sharing with and someone who will keep what you read to them confidential. The ARP Guide states: "We tried to select Someone who had gone through steps 4 and 5 and who was well-grounded in the gospel."  That person is NOT your bishop.
  • You are not expected to read your Step 4 Inventory to your Bishop. He doesn’t need to know all the details of your life, like what happened when you were 11 years old, etc. He only needs to know enough to be your judge, like in giving a temple recommend interview.
  • You should ask someone who has already been through Steps 4 and 5 to be the one to listen to your inventory.  For that person you should share what happened when you were 11 years old if it had an impact on your future life.  He will have empathy for you and will not judge you because he already knows what it’s like to be addicted. 
  • It’s probably not a good idea to read your inventory to your wife or girlfriend (unless you both feel good about it).  The "Support in Recovery" document or "Step 13" states: "Participants may decide not to share their personal inventories with immediate family members or people who might be hurt by hearing those inventories." I did not read my inventory to my wife or my bishop.  
  • A friend recently gave this advice: "Do not read your inventory to anyone who is mentioned in your inventory." -- Good advice.
  • If your inventory is long, you can read it over more than one session.
  • Choose a quiet safe place to read your inventory so you won’t be interrupted.

My Experience

I have been privileged to listen to multiple Step 4 Inventories. Each one was totally different because of the method used by the person who was writing, and his own background. But the one thing they had in common is that it was a spiritual experience, both for me and the other person.

We began with prayer and they read at their own speed. I just listened and gave encouragement.  I did not judge!!!  My respect and love for each of those guys was greater after they finished than it had been when they began.

Please don’t be afraid of either of these steps.  I promise you that they will bless your life!

Gethsemane A Tender Mercy II


The Lord tells me through tender mercies that "he knows me and he loves me!"

I wrote about one such tender mercy a while back. The post was called Gethsemane A Tender Mercy.  Well that tender mercy still continues.

Today as I left our Easter Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School class, I got into my car and turned on the radio.  The first thing I heard was the beginning of an interview with the author of Gethsemane Jesus Loves Me, telling how she was inspired to write that song.

Her explanation was then followed by the recording of a young woman singing the song.

Tears welled up in my eyes --- just like for all the other tender mercies I have experienced.

Was that just a coincidence???  I didn't think so.

But the Lord wanted to make sure I knew it was a tender mercy, just for me.

So later on, as I came back from dinner, I walked into my house and sat down.

The radio was already on; and what did I hear next? -- That same interview!

That was no coincidence!!!  Once again, the Lord was telling me, "I know you and I love you!"

The chorus in that song is, "Gethsemane -- Jesus Loves Me!"  I know He loves me---and He loves you too!!!

I pray that you will recognize tender mercies in your life!

I know that they are there, if you just look for them!!!   Ask Heavenly Father to help you see them.

Here is that radio interview.

Let's Stop the Blame Game


Let’s stop playing the “blame game.”

With our addictive minds, we try to avoid taking responsibility for our actions. Here are some of the statements I have heard guys make after they relapsed:
  • “My roommate is supposed to enable the password on his laptop when he leaves the apartment. Well yesterday he didn’t and I relapsed. It’s my roommate’s fault.”
  • “The filter on my computer stopped working and I relapsed. It’s the filter’s fault.”
  • “The pattern my Bishop used to lock down my cell phone was too easy to crack and I relapsed. It was my Bishop’s fault.”
  • “When I signed up for high speed Internet, they gave me a free tablet. It didn’t have a filter so I relapsed. It was Internet provider's fault”
  • “My phone is supposed to be locked down. But I discovered that this particular app was able to give me access to google and I relapsed. So it was the app’s fault.”
In each of these situations, the person making the statement had very weak boundaries or no boundaries at all. Each one of them was depending on some-one or some-thing to protect them from the Internet. Thus, they felt little hesitation in trying to get passed whatever barrier had been put in their path.  

It's like: “If I can find a way around this road block then it's my duty to try and I'm not responsible."

But what would happen if I put a pack of cigarettes on the night stand next to their bed. What would be their response?  I’ll bet – without hesitation, most would reject it.  And they wouldn’t have to think twice about it. Why is that?  

Perhaps it’s because they, a long time ago, made a decision not to smoke. It was a single decision and they only had to make it one time. They don't have to make that decision every time they are given the opportunity.

But what about pornography and related activities?  What happens when those opportunities to act out present themselves?  Do we immediately reject those thoughts – or do we have to think about them first? If we have to make a decision each time, we will have a 50% chance of making a bad decision.

Wouldn’t it be much better to make that decision just once and get it over with  -- just like we did with smoking. So why don’t we just do that right now???

If we are willing to make a firm decision to avoid pornography, just once, and get it over with, we won’t be tempted to keep testing the boundaries and blaming others for our sins.

Think about it!


The Bare Minimum

A therapist once told me about a client who came into his office and said the following:

“I hate this addiction! I hate it--I hate it--I hate it!  It’s ruining my life. It’s ruining my family. It’s hurting my job. I’ll do anything to get rid of this addiction.  So tell me doctor, what’s the bare minimum I have to do to overcome it?”

How many of us are like that client?  We acknowledge that we hate the addiction--that it’s affecting our family, our job, our church service, our faith, our testimony, our self-respect, and virtually all aspects of our lives.  But then what are we really willing to do to overcome it?

Are we all talk but little action?
  
Are we looking for the minimum effort to overcome our addiction--such as:
  • What’s the fewest number of minutes I need to spend daily in the scriptures?
  • What’s the fewest number of times I need to pray each day?
  • When I do pray what’s the least number of minutes?
  • Can I get away with only fasting once a month on Fast Sunday?
  • Is it OK to just fast one meal?
  • What is the fewest number of ARP meetings I need to attend?
  • Can I get away with only going to a meeting when I’m feeling triggered?
  • Can’t I just read the guide and not go to any meetings?
  • Can't I just read through the steps and not do the writing part?
  • Do I really need to write in a Recovery Journal?
  • Can I avoid getting a support person?  It’s so embarrassing.
  • Isn't it good enough to just have a support person on call in case you might need him?
  • Can't I just keep this problem between me the Lord and not tell anyone else?
  • Can't I just confess to the bishop each time I act out and leave it at that?
We may not be asking those questions out loud.  But might that actually be our attitude?
Where exactly is recovery on our priority list?  Is it near the top or near the bottom?
If someone were to monitor our actions would our actions correspond with what we say?

What About Our Prayers for Help?

In our prayers we have all asked Heavenly Father to either take this addiction away or at least help us to overcome it.  But then when he tries to help us, do we say "No thanks, I'll do it my way?"

I can just imagine us, at some point, asking the Heavenly Father, "Why didn't you help me when I asked?"  And Heavenly Father answering:

"I tried to help you but your pride got in the way. I put wonderful people and tools in your path and you pretty much ignored them.

"I created a whole program just to help YOU.  It was called the Addiction Recovery Program with meetings almost every day of the week.  I had missionaries and facilitators called just for YOU.  Those brethren gave up one or more nights a week just for YOU.  But you didn't take the meetings seriously.  Many times your social life and your friends took precedence over the meetings.  And then when you did attend, you arrived late or left early. Were you attending just so you could check it off your list?

"I inspired the brethren to create an Addiction Recovery Guide with step by step instruction to help you overcome your addiction. And in that guide were Action Steps, that if you had followed, would have been a great help.  Also in that guide were sections called Study and Understanding, and if you had read, pondered, and answered the questions, you would have made great progress. But you didn't seriously follow the steps. And many times you didn't even know what step you were on.

"So to answer your question, I really did try to answer your prayers, but you were not listening to my answers!  You wanted different answers.  You were more like Naaman when he was asked to immerse himself in the Jordan River seven times.  Naaman didn't like that answer, he wanted a different answer." 

Do I Have My Own Bottle of Whiskey?

I think we would all agree that for an alcoholic to carry a bottle of whiskey around in his pocket would be "stupid!" But how about a pornography addict carrying pornography around in his pocket??  How many of us are doing exactly that with our smartphone and then wonder why we still have a problem?

Or what about an alcoholic keeping a bottle of whiskey on his desk at home -- still stupid -- right?  But might we have a "pornography box" also called a computer or tablet on our desk with open access to the internet?

How really serious are we about recovery?  Or are we still trying to do "the bare minimum?"

Let's go back and re-read the bulleted items at the top of this post.  This time let's be more honest!

Are we willing to make any changes in our attitude and our actions?  If so, what?

Which Wolf Will Win? *

When first attending addiction recovery meetings I came with the attitude and idea that it would be a gathering of people who focused and shared on what they had changed in their lives to help them overcome their addictions. Such as putting up layers of defense – blocks on the internet, accountability, and various other secular and “logical” methods of overcoming an addiction to pornography.

I was wrong. There was little to nothing secular about the people’s methods that actually helped them overcome their addiction. Real recovery has nothing to do with the various little secular tweaks to one’s lifestyle and everything to do with coming to Jesus Christ.

One can come unto Jesus Christ through the various “dailies” (Scripture study, Prayer, Pondering, etc.) that strengthen the relationship between God and man.

One of my favorite quotes is as follows:

‘An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is [addiction], anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

 He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”’

The principle taught by the old Cherokee is true for all of us. Which one do you feed the most in your life? If we want to overcome our addictions, we have to overcome all the evil and the bad in our lives. What better way to do this than to come unto the Savior by emulating His actions and goodness in our everyday lives? The Savior is the epitome of Good. We must feed the good within us every day if we desire to overcome the evil.

We all make mistakes in our everyday lives and there will be ups and downs, sobriety and relapses. The Savior will help pick us up when we fall down. Recovery is a learning process, a hard process, but one worth doing.

God and His Son love us and want us to succeed in our endeavors and this is possible through coming unto Christ.

Don’t give up, don’t give in. Let us feed the good within ourselves and we will come out on top. We've got this!

* This post was written my good friend Caleb!

P.S.  Some additional thoughts on this subject can be found in the article: Why We Shouldn't Focus on Avoiding Sin

A Sloppy Recovery


When I first began the Addiction Recovery Program my life was totally disorganized -- not unlike the schedule below:

Monday:  Wake up at 7:30 read from BofM, pray, eat, get dressed, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, pray, go to bed at 11:30.

Tuesday: Wake up at 8:30 eat, get dressed, pray, go to school and work. Come home, go to part of ARP meeting, come home, do homework, pray, watch TV, go to bed at 12:30.

Wednesday: Wake up at 7:00, get dressed, do some step work, eat, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, read from BofM go to bed at 12:00.

Thursday: Wake up at 9:30, eat, get dressed, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, read from BofM, write in journal, pray, go to bed at 12:30.

Friday: Wake up at 8:00, read from BofM, pray, do some step work, eat, go to school and work. Come home, hang out with friends, go to bed at 1:00 AM.

Saturday: Wake up at 10:30, eat, get dressed, go for a hike, hang out with friends, go to a movie. Go to bed at 1:30 AM.

Sunday: Wake up at 8:30, eat, get dressed, pray, go to church, hang out with friends, write in journal, pray, go to bed at 10:30.

Might this schedule belong to anyone you know???

What this person has is a sloppy schedule -- and possibly a sloppy recovery. 

Sure he is trying to squeeze in everything he knows he should be doing but it's not working well.

Each day is totally different. He has no real plan, except to try to do a little of everything when he can squeeze it in.
What he's missing is Consistency!

He may wonder, "Hey, I'm trying to pray, read my scriptures, attend an ARP meeting plus work on the 12 steps -- so why do I feel like I'm not recovering?"

The truth is, he's really not in control.  He doesn't have a plan.  He is "tossed to and fro."

His recovery could be so much simpler and effective if he took charge, and had a plan for each day by:
  • Trying to go to bed at the same time each night
  • Making sure to get adequate sleep
  • Getting up at the same time each morning
  • Setting up a consistent routine for dailies each day -- including weekends
  • And determining which things in life are important and which are optional.
For many of us the best time to do dailies is early in the morning, before others get up*.  That way we have a quiet time to read, ponder, and pray -- just like the personal study done by missionaries. If it was good for us as missionaries, it should be good for us now.

Suggestion: 
  • Write down your schedule each day for a week and see what you are really doing and when.
  • Determine what you can you do to be more consistent? 
  • Then put together a plan for the following week and try to live it.
  • If it doesn't work, make adjustments until you have a plan that works and is consistent.
Then you should begin seeing success, not just in recovery, but in all aspects of your life!

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*If you would like to know the benefits of getting up early, check out this article from the Ensign entitled: Filled With Life and Energy.    

Diabetes and Addiction


Diabetes and Addiction have many things in common.

Diabetes is an illness and if not treated it will get worse.

Addiction is an illness and if not treated it will get worse.

With diabetes the pancreas could be considered broken and doesn’t produce the correct amount of insulin.

With an addiction the brain can be considered broken and produces chemicals that cause the person to act irrationally. 

Treatment

If a person with diabetes doesn’t take his insulin daily and watch his diet he will suffer grave consequences.

If a person with an addiction doesn’t do his “dailies” daily and watch his internet diet he will suffer grave consequences.

If a person with diabetes tries to skip his insulin shots for six days and take the full amount on the seventh day, he will probably go into shock.

If a person with an addiction tries to skip his dailies for six days and then do a week’s worth of dailies on the seventh day, he will probably relapse.

If a person with diabetes doesn’t report to or isn’t accountable to his doctor on a regular basis, he could miss some needed adjustments that he might need to keep him on course.

If a person with an addiction doesn’t report to or isn’t accountable to his sponsor and his bishop on a regular basis, he could miss some needed adjustments that he might need to keep him on course.

The Good News

There are diabetes support groups that meet monthly and provide information and support to their members. There is no charge to attend.

There are addiction recovery support groups that meet weekly and provide information and support to their members. There is no charge to attend.

A person with Diabetes can live a normal life if he takes his illness seriously and treats it on a daily basis. No one ever needs to know that someone is a diabetic.  

A person with an addiction can live a normal life if he takes his illness seriously and treats it on a daily basis.  No one ever needs to know that someone is an addict.

Conclusion


It is possible that we may not totally overcome our addiction in this life, just as a diabetic may not overcome his diabetes. But that does not mean we must continue to suffer and remain in bondage to the addiction, if we take the necessary steps to control it. 

Take a moment and read the account of Alma and his people found in Mosiah 24:14-15 and see how it might apply to our situation.


14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage.

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease.

Some of the steps we should take to qualify for the Lord's help include:
  • Doing "dailies" daily. Never skip a day and make sure our dailies includes 12 Step work.
      
  • Being accountable to our bishop and a sponsor on a regular basis.
       
  • Attending recovery meetings every week. We shouldn't just attend when we have nothing better to do.
      
  • Immediately doing PMS when triggered -- Pray, Move and get Support!!!
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Let us all support each other in this effort just like the people of Alma!

Two Things That Have Helped Me


If I were to be asked to list two things that have helped me the most since starting the 12 Step program, here is what I would list.
  1. The Importance of Reaching Out
      
  2. Doing PMS When Stressed or Tempted
And those two things are probably what I mention the most when I share in our group.

So let me review them briefly.

The Importance of Reaching Out

We all know that none of us can recover in isolation. We have all tried that multiple times and failed miserably.
We need each other and the Lord to recover.

And reaching out is the best way to support each other.

So that is exactly what I'm doing right now.  I'm reaching out!

When I'm sad, depressed, lonely, bored, stressed, or tempted, I know I can reach out to any of the  guys I know in ARP and receive support.

That's has been a huge blessing in my life.

And on days when I'm feeling good, I can also reach out and lift others.

It doesn't matter whether I'm reaching to ask for help or reaching out to offer help, either way, it blesses two lives!

It blesses the life of the one reaching out and it blesses the life of the one being reached out to.  I think you already recognize this.
  
Doing PMS

P stands for Prayer,  M stands for Move or change your environment, and S stands for get Support or Surrender.

And I used to think they had to be done in that order, first pray, then move, then get support.
But I've recently changed my mind.  So feel free to do them in any order.  But all three are important.
I can promise you that PMS works -- at least it works for me.  Consider adding it your toolkit.

For me this last year, when an unwanted thought enters my mind I try to say a prayer within the first few seconds.

"Heavenly Father please help me get rid of that thought in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
And He does!

Most of the time that is all that is needed and the thought disappears within seconds.

However, if I can't get rid of those thoughts I then need to either "Move."  That may mean, go for a walk.  Somehow change my environment.

Or call or text someone I know in the program and ask them to pray for me.

Once I've shared with someone else what is going on, the temptation usually is substantially weakened. 

Plus, once I share my stress, temptation or trigger with someone else, I then become accountable!

What I don't want to do is to try to handle it by myself.  That doesn't work!

If I were to suggest a goal, it would be to really take PMS seriously.  Pray the moment you have a negative thought.

If it doesn't go away, change your environment and call or text someone.  It really works! 
I hope you will consider adding these two items to you recovery toolkit. 

I Feel My Savior's Love

Months ago I wrote a post entitled Our Savior's Love.

In that post, I told about a Tender Mercy I received on a day that I was feeling really alone, and I  prayed for comfort and reassurance.  Then all of a sudden my smartphone, with no help from me, started playing "Our Savior's Love" by the Tabernacle Choir.

I knew in an instant that it was a Tender Mercy from my Father in Heaven.  And the message I received at that time was: "I know you and I love you!!!"

Then later that same day, my phone played the same song.  But this time it was sung by a different group, "Our Savior's Love by Voice Male."  That was another Tender Mercy, giving me the same message: "I know you and I love you!!!"

Well last night I was thinking about the many Tender Mercies I have received over the last few years and I decided to just listen to some uplifting music on Pandora.  When I opened up Pandora it suggested that I might like listening to music from "Paul Cardall" so I clicked "OK" and it started playing.

At one point I sat down on my bed, and as I did one tune began playing.  The Spirit said to me, this one is just for you.  The tune was familiar but I wasn't sure of the title -- so I looked it up it was.  "I Feel My Savior's Love!!!"

And once again I received that same message as before:  "I know you and I love you!!!"

That was not a coincidence.  I testify that Tender Mercies are real and they come to us from a loving Father in Heaven who wishes to tell each of us how much he loves us.  And that He wishes to bless us if we will just ask Him.  I know that to be true!!!

Please look for Tender Mercies in your own life.  I know they are there.  And ask Heavenly Father in prayer to be able to recognize your own Tender Mercies.

That way you can also receive the message: "I know you and I love you!!!"




Avoiding Temptation vs Resisting Temptation

I’d like to compare my addiction to a water slide. The water slide is the addiction and my natural man is anxious to experience the thrill of the slide.

However, my spirit wants something better. My spirit knows that the thrill of the slide is only temporary and artificial and will not satisfy my desire for true long-lasting joy.

With that in mind let's imagine a young man sitting at the top of the slide. The water is already rushing past him and he is grasping tightly the sides of the slide -- he is just waiting for the signal to go.

So at this point, what are the chances of him resisting the temptation to start down the slide?  And once he starts down the slide, what are the chances of him stopping?  His chances of resisting at this point are slim to none.

The same is true of us and our addiction.  Once we get to a certain point, the chance of us backing away or stopping is almost impossible.  Let's admit it -- we have all been there!

Even if the young man at the top of a slide changes his mind, he still has to push his way past all the others waiting in line and walk down all those stairs to get to safety.  That’s not very likely, especially if his natural man still wants to experience the thrill of the slide.

So one solution, rather than “resist temptation, is to “avoid temptation.”

Getting back to the water slide analogy: wouldn’t it be much easier to make a decision, at the foot of the water slide, to not climb all those stairs, and thus avoid the temptation altogether?

In fact, if you knew that water slides were bad, perhaps when you saw a water slide 100 yards away, you could decide to go off in another direction and avoid the slide altogether.

If we have a temptation right in front of us, close enough that we can reach out and touch it, our chance of resisting it is very small.  However, if the temptation is far off, and we choose to avoid it, our chance of success is great.

"Avoiding" temptation is more effective than "resisting" temptation!

Along this same line of thinking, it's my understanding that we all have our own rituals when we start getting close to temptation – we follow the same paths over and over again.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can identify early on when we are starting down that path and avoid going any further. We have been down that path before and we already know where it leads.

Think of the last time you acted out or relapsed.  What led up to your acting out? Like the stairs up to the water slide, what path did you take?  

I challenge you to mentally walk back down that path, down the stairs of the water slide, to it’s beginning.  Now, in your mind, pinpoint the start of that path!!!  At that point what could you have done to avoid going any further?

So next time you find yourself starting down that path, or up those stairs, stop yourself and avoid going any further -- you already know where it leads!!!


P.S. I chose a water slide for my analogy because it really is a "slippery slope".  And once you start down that path, you know where you're going to end up.

Becoming My Own Parent *

I have a daughter whom I love fiercely. She's just a toddler, but she is one of the most fun people I've ever met. We love to sing together and we love to have dance parties.  

Watching her grow from day to day is one of my greatest blessings. 

A while ago, I was given an insight into my own life thanks to the relationship I have with my daughter. 

I learned that I need to be my own parent!

Throughout the course of my addiction, I would say that I have been more of my own high school buddy than being my own parent. 

I would say things to myself like, 

     "Oh man, we'd get in so much trouble if we got caught!" Or

     "Homework (or my responsibilities) are lame!   Let's ditch!" 

It sounds silly, I know. 

When I was my own teenaged friend, I found the guardrails in my life to be obstructing and restricting.

The most valuable thing about being my own parent is that I love myself fiercely! 

And it's because I love myself the way a parent would love their child that I've decided to give myself house rules to follow. 

I've given myself a routine daily schedule that has activities important to my spiritual, physical, emotional, and social health.

I study the scriptures daily and choose the study topic for the day. 

I keep filters and other barriers (for which only a trusted individual knows the passwords) on my electronic devices. 

I've heard it said that children don't need their parent to be a friend near as much as they need their parent to be a parent. 

As I've tried to love myself the way I would love my daughter (and the way God loves his children) It's made all the difference in my life.

* This post was written by my good friend, Doug.  I appreciate his insights!!!