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?


Addiction Recovery Steps said...

This is a great post and the responses are outstanding. I would love to add new insight but everyone has done such a great job.

Anonymous said...

Love this article! Thanks for writing it. I will be celebrating 5 years of sobriety from my addiction this week and I can totally agree - I didn't get here by doing the "bare minimum" - I got here by doing EVERYTHING anyone suggested I do. It works when I work it!