Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gratitude...

I read a story today that really touched me and I want to share it with you.  This story comes from my dear friend Sister Jacob who was a missionary in my LDS recovery group until she left on another mission with her dear husband to the Philippines.  Sister Jacob is an absolute angel and I have been truly blessed to have her in my life.  The following story comes from her recent update letter that she sent home.
We wanted to share one last story of a dear sister named Sinforiana whom we found with the help of another branch member and the Cortes Elders.  We had to walk quite a distance after traveling a mile down a dirt road and parking the car and then ask for directions several times until we came to a small nepa hut surrounded by coconut trees; stacks of chopped wood and some chickens.  Sinforiana came out of the hut with a small child in her arms whom we later found out was her little niece.  The mother, Sinforiana’s sister is unmarried and the two sisters live together on a family plot that includes a brother and his family.  Sinforiana is 41 years old and has never married.  When Elder Jacob took out his binder with the names of the branch members on it and pointed to her name she covered her mouth with her hands and explained with great delight:  “I thought my name was taken off.  I thought I had been forgotten.  I have been praying and praying that someone would come; that someone would remember me.”  We taught her a lesson and at the end she offered the prayer.  She cried throughout the prayer expressing gratitude over and over again to the Lord that He had remembered her and sent the missionaries.  Her sister brought out some jack fruit that she had picked from the tree and cut up for us and generously shared it.  The only money they have is what they get from cutting up wood and selling it for a few pesos.  They have no electricity and when we asked her to read she was unable to read very well because she has such poor vision.  It is a major obstacle to reading the Book of Mormon.  The light is so dim if they do have electricity that it is very difficult for many older people to see the print.  Sometimes they have no lights and must use precious candle light to see the words.  We left humbled and determined to get some glasses for her to be able to read when it is light.  It was a sweet reminder of the Lord’s care over each of His children; that He is mindful of their needs and desires and of what great joy the Gospel brings into the hearts and homes of those whom we would consider “the least of these.” 
This story has left me feeling deep gratitude for the comforts that I take for granted each and every day.  I am also left feeling gratitude for my Father in Heaven and his mindfulness of each of us.  I too once felt as if I'd been forgotten and through many tender mercies I again was found.  

He will find all of us, this He promises us... 


"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"

Monday, October 29, 2012

If Any of You Lack...


LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs

There are many different recovery blogs that I follow.  Some are blogs of people who are recovering from their loved ones addictions and others are of addicts who are working to overcome their own addictions.  It's hard to keep track of all the blogs I follow and I often wish they were all in one place.  One place not just for me to see (on my reader) but that everyone can find and also read.  

To remedy this dilemma I've created a blog/site called "LDS Addiction Recovery Blogs."

I'd like this to be a place where any and all LDS folks who blog about their personal recovery can have their blog listed.  Think of it as a Step 12 - you would be allowing your struggle and recovery to benefit others.

I have a few blogs rolling on the site already - blogs that I personally follow - but I know there are many more out there.

Keep in mind, this site isn't just dedicated to addicts and loved ones recovering from pornography addiction.  This site is for those recovering from any addiction - but from an LDS perspective.

So please pass on the word to all your LDS recovery friends who may have blogs they'd like to see listed on this site.  They can submit their blog by filling out the submission form on the front page of the blog.

Also if you have questions/suggestions/ideas please let me know!  

The blog site is:


Thanks!

Sidreis

PS - I'll be working on getting a button for the page that people can put on their own blogs.  I just need to create it and figure out where to put it on the blog.

Journal: Twitter (again), Counseling Services and Humility

Well, Twitter didn't last long.  I deactivated it after using it for about a week.  A couple of things led to my decision.  First, I felt it sucking my soul.  The need to post and constantly check to see if I had new followers and scout out who was following me and wondering what I could do to get new followers simply began to swallow me whole.  It began to consume more of my time and energy than I was willing to allow.  Plus, my original agenda when creating it (reach a wider audience and help others who might be struggling) got lost in the popularity contest.  I found myself wondering how others got so many followers and the desire to find out how to be like them grew hotter and hotter.  

Second, I felt super exposed.  I still don't completely understand why since my blog is public and I'm pretty open about my addiction/recovery.  I'm not sure exactly where that feeling came from, I just know it wasn't a good feeling.  So in the end, I just deactivate Twitter and I have no plans to reactivate it.

~~~~~~~~~~

There have been some inquiries regarding whether or not I will be listing/promoting counseling services on my blog.  I have been chewing on this notion for quite some time.  I know that counseling can be a very useful tool and I wouldn't want to deny anyone resources that could potentially help them along their journey but in the end I have decided not to promote counseling services on my blog.  
Please allow me explain why...

I won't be listing these services on my blog simply because I don’t have a personal testimony of counseling being helpful in my own recovery process.  I myself spent seven years in counseling prior to finding recovery and found no solution for my addiction.  It wasn't until I found the LDS Addiction Recovery Program and sank myself into working the steps that I found my recovery.  

I don't want to promote counseling services on my blog if I have no idea if they work or not.  All of them make claims of awesome healing and recovery.  Some of them even guarantee to cure sexual addiction and even some others promise 100% success rates.  As much as I would love to believe these claims, I just don't have any way of knowing.

My blog is titled “By the Light of Grace” because I myself found my recovery through my Savior, who is Grace.  It was by Him that I finally found light.  My blog is my personal testimony of the journey I have taken and what I have learned thus far (and continue to learn) from my own personal recovery process. 

I found my recovery through relying on my Savior by way of the LDS Addiction Recovery Program which taught me how to utilize and rely on the Atonement of my Savior, to rescue and heal me.  All for free.  That is what my blog testifies of and I feel that it is important that I stay true to that approach.


~~~~~~~~~~

As you all know I had a mini freak out last week.  The disaster state of my house turned into a monumental obstacle and I let it get the best of me.  I'd like to report that I finally swallowed my pride and invited someone in to help me clean.  We only did the kitchen and it took three hours haha.  But it felt SOOO good to get that done.  It's sparkly now.  There are a few others that offered to help that I plan to call on to just help me complete projects here and there.  The kitchen was my monster so now that it is complete I feel more motivated to keep moving through other projects.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Carpenter's Tools

Brother Hammer served as the chairman. The other members of the tool belt informed him that he must leave, because he was too noisy. But brother Hammer said, "If I have to leave this carpenter's shop, then brother Gimlet must go too. He's insignificant and makes a very small impression." (A gimlet is a small tool with a screw point, grooved shank, and a cross handle for boring holes).

Little brother Gimlet arose and said, "All right, but brother Screwdriver must go also. You have to turn him around and around to get anywhere with him."

Brother Screwdriver turned to the other tools in the belt and said, "If you wish, I will go, but brother Plane must leave too. All of his work is on the surface; there's no depth to what he does."

To this brother Plane leveled his terse reply, "Well, then, brother Saw will have to depart too. The changes he proposes always cut too deep."

Brother Saw complained, saying, "Brother Ruler will have to withdraw if I leave, for he's always measuring other folks as though he were the only one who is right."

Brother Ruler then surveyed the group and said, "Brother Sandpaper doesn't belong here either. He's rougher than he ought to be, and is always rubbing people the wrong way."

In the midst of the discussion, the Carpenter of Nazareth walked in. He had come to perform his day's work. He put on His tool belt and went to the workbench to make a pulpit. He employed the ruler, the saw, the plane, the hammer, the gimlet, the screwdriver, the sandpaper, and all the other tools. When the day's work was over, the pulpit was finished, and the carpenter went home. All the accusations against each of these tools were absolutely true, yet the carpenter used every one of them. No matter which tool He used, no other tool could have done the work better.


~Author Unknown~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weepy and Tired

I'm feeling weepy today.  No, not feeling weepy, I am weepy.  I lost one of my best friends today.  I haven't actually had her for a while.  The last two conversations we had were over text and initiated by me (months apart).  Both seemed as if she'd rather I forget her phone number.  So I finally asked her this morning if she even wants to be friends anymore.  In the end I received my answer and wished her a happy life.  

Sometimes life is lonely for me.  I support many people - happily support many people but I often feel like there isn't anyone for me to lean on.  I know this is a lie of course.  I've recognized it as such.  I do have plenty of people to lean on.  I have my husband, my sponsor(s), many people from my ward and my Bishop.  But I have such a hard time reaching out for help.  I feel sometimes as if I need to be strong for everyone.  That no one will love me if I'm not always the strong one, the rock, the example.  More lies.  But it's hard for me to be vulnerable.  I haven't asked for help for so long that I don't really even know what that looks like. 

I've been working on being more vulnerable to people though.  Just yesterday I posted on Facebook the following:
I wish my house was clean enough that I'd feel comfortable with someone coming over to help me clean it.  
I work two jobs, I go to school, I am active in my ward; in my callings, I am called as a facilitator for the Addiction Recovery Program, I am married to a husband who works two jobs and goes to school, we have three very active kids.  Life...is...exhausting.  And because I'm so busy I have no time or energy to really pay any attention to my house.  It's a lost cause at this point.  It depresses me.  I'm ashamed of it.  And any shame on my shoulders is not good for me.  It creates a perfect breeding ground for feelings of worthlessness and not being good enough and I end up comparing myself to others and anytime I do that I feel like I completely fall short of everything.

I reached out to the above friend of mine in hopes to be able to lean on her a bit.  In the end - I was snubbed.  It hurt.  I feel like a disposable friend.  

I've been listening to this new song I found.  My Bishop is probably going to give me a hard time for listening to it - he's not a fan of my sometimes depressing recovery music.  But I think this one is good because it states exactly where I am right now but sheds light at the end.  I'd like to share it with you:


Homage for the Suffering
by
Matthew Perryman Jones


Here’s to you when the rain hits too hard
When the battles that you fight just leave you scarred
When you’re tired to the bone
And you’ve got no strength to move on

Here’s to you when the light has grown too dim
And your faith is just hanging on a limb
Your heart begins to doubt if you’ll ever make it through

Oh
Here’s to you
Here’s to you

When anger burns like fire beneath your skin
And you long for love, you won’t let love in
Your arms are folded tight across your chest
And you won’t let go

Oh and fear rolls like thunder in your soul
And all the lies have got you under their control
and your mind is just too confused to see
What is true

Oh 
Here’s to you
Here’s to you

Oh soon the sun will come with healing in its wings
To wash away your tears and make you move

Here’s to you
Here’s to you
Here’s to you
Here’s to you

I absolutely love the last lines.... the sun (Christ) will shine... and He will wipe away my tears and help pick me up and get me moving/progressing again.  I know He will.

I have a fellow blogger named 'MM' who posted yesterday just for me.  OK maybe not just for me, but I like to think it was, it sure feels like it was.  You can read her post called 'Jesus Wept' here.  She talks about the Savior weeping for us.  He feels our heartache and anguish and genuinely shares our pain so much that He Himself weeps with us.  He is weeping with me right now.

I find refuge in His arms.  Even though I am going through a rough time right now I know that I am safe.  I am cared for.  I am loved.  And I will get through this.  I just need to wait out the storm huddled in the hem of His robes.  This I will do.

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Journal:Twitter, ARP Firesides and Fear of Moving

It's been quite a while since I've written a journal entry.  I have a hard time fitting the journal entries into my blog post priority list.  I have around 45 draft posts in various stages whether they are needing to be written, edited or just posted.  I have a hard time thinking that my mundane journal posts could be more meaningful than talking about principles of recovery.  But I feel like I need to write more journal posts.  I know that when I find someone on the internet that I admire - I have a desire to know more about that person as well as the wisdom they have to offer.  So I'm trying to share more of me. 

So I have my entire iPod song list on shuffle right now... so I'm going to list songs I'm listening to as I write this.  Give you a taste of the type of music I love/listen to!  Also I'm not going to skip over ANY songs - it will be straight shuffle.  Oh and I realize that there are ALOT of songs in comparison to the little bit written... that's because I was also working while listening/blogging.


~~~~~~~~~~

Song: Break Your Heart - Taio Cruz ft. Ludacris
Song: This Grudge - Alanis Morissette
Song: Angel Standing By - Jewel

Joining Twitter + Fears
Well I did it.  I joined Twitter.  I'm actually still in shock that I did this.  I never did get the tweeting thing.  I thought it was dumb actually.  But, I thought maybe I could reach a wider audience this way - find more people that might be feeling alone and hopeless.  I'm still not sure it's something I'm going to continue though.  I have 8 followers right now.  This morning I had 9.  I clicked on the 9th to see who it was and was faced with a nude picture.  I froze.  And then panicked.  Luckily that person actually stopped following me before I could remove them but it was still a bit of a rude awakening.  That's been one of my fears in coming out with my story.  I didn't/don't really fear judgement by people because I have a really excellent support system in place.  I have great friends, family, ward members and groupies that secure that support system.  I was/am more concerned that mean people in the world would send me pornographic content or just try and put triggers in my path.  I haven't actually had any of that happen... but the Twitter follower this morning has served as a red flag of warning.  If things like that continue to happen, I'll remove myself from Twitter.  I know that Heavenly Father will direct me to people I need to reach.  And I know that Heavenly Father will direct people that need to be reached to my blog.  And I know, without doubt, that in the process He would not put me in danger.  My point is, if I kill Twitter it will be because it puts my own recovery at risk and Heavenly Father will be totally OK with that.  He's good about finding other ways to connect people:-)
~~~~~~~~~~

Song: Two Hearts - Phil Collins
Song: Oh Come, All Ye Faithful - The Lower Lights
Song: We Are - Matt Scannell & Richard Marx
Song: Afer Ventus - Enya
Song: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing - MoTab

Dr. Hilton + ARP Firesides and Opportunities
I had the opportunity to attend a monthly ARP Fireside this past Sunday night.  We had a very special guest speaker: Dr. Donald Hilton, author of He Restoreth My Soul.  He is a neurosurgeon out of San Antonio Texas and also serves as the ARP Mission Coordinator for his area.  My story was also published in the second edition of his book 3 years or so ago.  I recently emailed my blog to him to let him know of my progression and my recent endeavors to help sisters who are struggling and alone and then also re-introduced myself to him before the fireside started.  He expressed that there is a need in San Antonio for women with good recovery to help others who are struggling in that area.  I of course offered to help in any way I can.  It is absolutely amazing to me how small the world has become since I started recovery.  I used to feel like such a small blip in the world, nothing really.  But now I feel like everyone is my family and I'm so eager to welcome them into my arms.  I guess that's a taste of how the Savior feels.   The fireside itself was awesome and left me feeling very grateful for the program we have.  There is something powerful about sitting in a room full of people that just want to recover from whatever is keeping them separate from God.  On some level everyone there, in that moment, was facing Heaven.  So awesome!  After the fireside I had the opportunity to meet with Steven and Rhyll Croshaw, founders of SA Lifeline Foundation.  Wow aren't they wonderful!  I may have opportunity to work with them in the future as well which would be aWeSoMe!
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Song: The Power of Love - Huey Lewis & The News
Song: DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love - Usher
Song: Alone - Celine Dion
Song: A Day Without Rain - Enya
Song: Imaginary - Evanescence
Song: It's Not Right But It's OK - Whitney Houston
Song: The River of Dreams - Billy Joel
Song: The Real Me - Natalie Grant

Fear of Moving
So we are moving in January, or that's the plan.  We were suppose to move this past September but that fell through so now we are shooting for January.  I'm absolutely terrified to move.  I'm really big on comfort zones and my current ward and Bishop are a HUGE comfort zone for me.  I found my recovery in my ward.  I found my Savior.  I learned to love my Savior.  I'm afraid I'm going to move into another ward and just be a number.  That I'll get lost.  But we have to move.  We are a family of 5 crammed into a 2-bedroom townhouse and we are simply out of room.  We have to move.  And I'm excited to move when I think about having a bigger place, hopefully an actual house, with a yard.  I'm excited when I think about my kids having a ward where there are TONS of kids their age and they can run up the street and play with a gang of friends.  I'm excited to not be ashamed of my shambles of a home (it's wrought with clutter) and actually be confidant to have people over for dinner and get-together's.  So from that perspective I am super excited to move.  I seem to cycle back and forth between the two perspectives which is exhausting in itself.  But what I am working to focus my attention on is feeling secure in my Savior.  That no matter where I move, He will always remain the same.  He will always remain as close to me as I allow and He will never leave me.  He will guide me to a ward that is good for me, for whatever needs I may have.  He will also guide me to a ward that will help and refine me.  So I'm focusing on the positive.  
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That's about it for now - minus one question that I want to ask an anonymous reader that I haven't heard from in a while...

Rose, are you still reading?

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Happened to Your Hand?

"What Happened to Your Hand?"
by
Harry Anderson


I happened to His hand
You happened to His hand
We happened to His hand

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands"

A Basket of Water

An old man lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his scriptures.

His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could. One day the grandson asked, "Papa, I try to read the scriptures just like you but I don't understand them, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the scriptures do?"

The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water." The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again.

This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.

The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just not trying hard enough," and he went out of the door to watch the boy try again.

At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house.

The boy again dipped the basket into the river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty.

Out of breath, he said, "See Papa, it's useless!"

"So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."

The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out.

"Son, that's what happens when you read the scriptures. You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read them, you will be changed, inside and out. That is the work of God in our lives."

~Author Unknown~

Friday, October 19, 2012

User Dreams

User dreams often plague us as addicts.  I want to share my experience with them, how I've learned to cope with them and even come to appreciate them.  Also, I will be talking a lot about our brain's need for high levels of dopamine.  If this is foreign to you, you might consider first reading Sexual Addiction Defined which will give you a brief overview about how sexual addiction affects the brain.

What is a user dream?

A user dream is a dream that feeds our addiction.  I would have dreams where I would act out as if I was an actor in the very pornographic media I had infected my brain with.  I would wake up shaking and sweating and in a full on state of dopamine overdose.  User dreams are usually sexually explicit dreams but can also include nostalgia dreams, romantic dreams or dreams that produce sexual emotion. Basically, if the dream is a trigger then it qualifies as a user dream. 

Why do user dreams occur?
I came to learn that my brain craved the high levels of dopamine I'd been feeding it when I was in active addiction.  My brain knew that sexually explicit images produced those high levels of dopamine and when I stopped actively participating in my addiction my brain decided to produce its own movie screen of dopamine producing film also known as user dreams.

How often can user dreams happen?
These numbers vary depending on the person but for me I remember having a minimum of 2-3 dreams per week during my detox process but the further into sobriety and recovery I traveled the less dreams I would have.  My brain simply needed time to re-adjust the dopamine level threshold.  Once my brain didn't feel as if I was starving it, it was less likely to create the dreams.  I do still have user dreams but they usually only occur every 6 months or so. 

Is it my fault that I keep having user dreams?

I used to think that the reason I kept having user dreams was because I was being punished for something I was doing wrong.  I asked Dr. Donald Hilton, author of He Restoreth My Soul, his opinion on user dreams and he assured me that unless I was doing something in my life that actively fed my addiction that I was not accountable for my dreams.  My brain was simply in a state of shock and I needed to be patient while it healed.

  How do I cope with user dreams?
I had a really hard time dealing with user dreams at first.  I would wake up saturated in tremendous shame, wanting to give up.  I felt so angry that even when I’d worked so hard during the day to keep my thoughts and actions in check that Satan had a back door to my soul when I was most vulnerable.  Satan would also constantly whisper lies to me such as:
    • This is your fault, you brought it upon yourself
    • You will never be free of these dreams
    • These dreams are what you really want; carnal desires are ingrained in you
    • Your dreams are a form of cheating on your husband
    • No one else has these dreams, you are a freak
...and the list goes on and on.   
I endured an entire year of regular user dreams, sometimes 3-4 times per week.  Eventually, I learned to wake up, crash to my knees and thank my Heavenly Father that it was just a dream, and that it was not real.  I learned to not take accountability for them and to not give up. 

What can I do to aid in the fight against my user dreams?

The following are things I worked at to battle user dreams:
  • I hung up pictures of the Savior all around my bed
  • I read my scriptures before bed - not just read them - but I studied them.  I would specifically seek out recovery scriptures to help remind me of the power of the Lord and his ability and willingness to rescue and protect me.
  • I would pray for peaceful dreams
  • I would pray for Angels to watch over and protect me
  • If I had a user dream: I would wake up and crash to my knees and pour out my heart to my Father in Heaven.  I would ask him to remove the feelings of shame that the dream produced and to help blur the images in my head.  And I would ask for strength to endure.
  • I would make sure to text my sponsor and Bishop when I would have one.  The relief and validation that comes from a simple response of "man that stinks!  Well at least it wasn't real" or "let it go, the Lord loves you" is so powerful. 
I still have an occasional user dream but I refuse to own them like I once did.  I am now grateful for them.  They increase my gratitude for my Savior by helping me remember where I came from and how much I have been healed, they help me recognize the need for my Savior and they help me recognize that I still have my sobriety and recovery.  User dreams now give me the opportunity to see and express gratitude for all that I have. 



    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    A Call for Input...

    Dear Readers:

    I recently published a blog posted titled Whisperings of the Adversary.  In this post I list many of the adversary's lies that I have at one time believed throughout my recovery but have come to recognize for what they are; false.

    After publication of this post I had someone express that they still hear lies themselves and have a hard time deciphering what is truth and what is a false.  They also requested that I counter each lie with it's truth.  I absolutely love this idea!  

    I am busy working on listing the truth for each lie I listed but I would also like to request your input.  As I stated in my original blog post the lies we hear are very individual and personal.  It would seem somewhat pointless to only list the truths to the lies I hear when others are bombarded with different lies.  

    So I'm asking you to send me the lies that you hear.  Whether they are current or past lies or whether or not you still believe them or not doesn't matter; I'm solely interested in what the lie is/was.

    You can send your list(s) to bythelightofgrace (at) gmail (dot) com or you can simply reply with a comment to this post.

    I will be doing my best to counter each lie with scripture and words from our leaders.  I have also had a prayer in my heart as I have started compiling information that the Lord will guide me to the countered truth for each lie.  I want the answers listed to come from Him.  

    I appreciate each of you and your willingness to help with this endeavor.  Your willingness to share your personal tangles with the adversary is in essence working Step 12: Having  had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.  No names will be listed, but your willingness to offer your insight will in turn help others untangle the personal webs of deception the adversary has them trapped in.

    Also - you don't necessarily need to struggle with sexual addiction, or any addiction really, to participate.  The adversary lies to all of us and so each one of us has something to offer here.


    I love and appreciate each one of you.

    I sincerely thank you!!

    Sidreis


    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Why This Suffering?

    This submission was contributed by an anonymous reader:

    Since recently entering the 12 Step Program and learning the large revealing truth that all this happened because I believed large icky lies from the adversary, I've had a lot of questions for Heavenly Father.  A lot of confusions to clear up.  A lot of fog to blow out.  A lot of mess to pick up.  One main question that arose at the beginning has remained in question a long time still.  Through kind encouragement, I got up the courage to ask Heavenly Father directly.  It went something like this:

    "Heavenly Father, you promised me that if I kept the commandments, sacrificed, magnified my callings, did everything you asked, that I would be blessed.  Peace, happiness, a promised land and the best me.  I was SO obedient and sacrificed everything!  Mission, Sunday school teacher, visiting teaching, journaling, service, temple, etc etc etc... I did everything right!  I gave my all.  I've tried my best..... what happened?  How did Satan get in SO far?  And SO deep?  To the point where I can't even feel you anymore, Heavenly Father!  I struggle to even believe you exist anymore; to be honest I struggle with wanting to try.  I don't feel peace - I'm afraid, I'm not happy - I'm miserable, I don't see any promise of a place or state of being in which I'll be glad to live, and I really hate myself the way I am right now.  Heavenly Father ....why?  WHY this suffering???"

    Over time, I've received a few helpful answers here and there that have helped me understand bit by bit.  For example:

    ~Look how much I used the word "I."  I was taking credit for my salvation, and my pride stopped me from relying on the Lord.  I left no room for Christ.  I was slowly and silently letting all that I did myself keep me from the gentle power of humility - knowing all good things come from God only, and that without Him we are powerless.
    ~Satan talked me into believing the Lord held impossible expectations that I could never reach, that I had to be perfect.
    ~Satan told me God abandoned me because I messed up too much.
    (to list a few)

    Still, the question remained - "But... I was obedient - why wasn't I figuring these things out sooner?  Why did He let me fall so far and hurt SO much before finally learning all this?"  Again.  Why this suffering???  Have I not suffered enough in my life?

    Weeks later my answer came the weekend of the Relief Society Broadcast.  But... not until I got to church that Sunday morning.  I was struggling the weekend of the Broadcast; my general state was pretty much "numb" that day.  Though I heard words I knew I needed from amazing women, that I wanted to believe, I did not feel moved by them.  I went home feeling distant, unchanged, frustrated, and ashamed because of it.  The next morning our Bishop's wife spoke in Sac Meeting.  She introduced her talk by explaining that the RS Broadcast seemed to focus on the same theme which she felt to share with us that day.  My ears perked.  A second chance!  She began with this analogy:

    When a baby chick is emerging from it's shell, it takes a very long time of struggling and physical exertion as it slowly pushes it's way out of the shell.  The mother sits close and watches attentively, wishing she could help, listening to her baby peeping and crying desperately as it tries to escape it's discomfort and confinement.  But the wise mother knows that if she helps, the chick will die having not developed the strength needed to survive and function properly.  She knows it NEEDS to experience this distress, and she cannot help in this particular instance.  But she stays close and watches every second, with great love and concern as her precious baby suffers this long hard fight to freedom and life.

    This is how Heavenly Father works at times.  He always stays close, but sometimes he LETS us struggle and hurt, and doesn't help, because He knows our long suffering, trying experience is vital in the journey to becoming our best selves and receiving the greatest joy.
    During this perfect analogy, a tender feeling entered my heart as I recognized my prayer was finally answered.  Thank you Heavenly Father.  :)  We'll have to talk more.

    I know this was all necessary.  I know one day I'll look back and understand.  One day I'll be saying I'd never change it for anything.  Thanks to prayer and tender mercies, for now I get to at least know why.

    ~Anonymous~

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Whisperings of the Adversary

    I am currently reading the book ‘Putting on the Armor of God’ by Stephen A. Cramer.  Based on some calculations he estimates that each Latter-day Saint has upwards of one hundred agents of the adversary following them around at any given time whispering lies and working to exploit their weaknesses. 

    I would like to list some of those lies that the adversary and his followers have not so subtly whispered in my ear; lies that I have at one time believed.  It took a lot of time, courage and strength bestowed in me by my Heavenly Father to decipher, dismantle and eventually disable these lies, but with His gentle encouragement I have exposed them and for the most part stopped believing them.

    It is important to note that the lies the adversary tells us are very personal and individual.  You may relate to the lies I have listed below; but I guarantee each of us have our very own.   

    Lies Satan has told me that I have believed at some point during my recovery (over the last three years)...

    Regarding seeing my Bishop:

    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – he will think you are disgusting
    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – he will hate you
    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – you are wasting his time
    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – he will never understand
    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – you will trigger him and then you will be responsible for his thoughts
    ·      Don’t tell your Bishop – you can’t trust him
    ·      If you make an appointment with your Bishop – the executive secretary will guess why you need to see him


    Regarding how I feel about myself:

    ·      You are just a piece of meat, your only purpose is to please men
    ·      You are dirty, no one wants to touch you
    ·      Everyone knows – they can see the grime on you
    ·      That gun would fit perfectly into your hand
    ·      If you become a more righteous person you will lose your sense of humor
    ·      You offend everyone at church
    ·      You have no value
    ·      Just kill yourself – all the pain will end
    ·      If you die no one will miss you
    ·      Your kids and your husband are better off without you – you bring them down
    ·      No matter how hard you try – it will never be enough
    ·      There are so many more righteous people than you
    ·      You were born with the need for dirty things – that makes you horrible


    Regarding my relationship with my Father in Heaven and Savior

    ·      God obviously doesn't love you since He let you suffer
    ·      Your Heavenly Father has looked over you so many times
    ·      Your Savior is so disappointed in you
    ·      Why would your Savior love you?  You have caused Him so much pain
    ·      You are beyond the reach of rescue
    ·      You will never be clean therefore you will never reach Heaven
    ·      If you follow me instead – I will give you everything you want
    ·      I pay more attention to you than God does
    ·      God doesn't love you, but I do 


    Regarding worthiness:

    ·      The Celestial Kingdom is only reserved for the elite apostles and prophets anyway so why bother trying
    ·      Do you see how white the Temple is?  You can’t go in there
    ·      You are too dirty to even be worthy to enter the church building
    ·      All the hell and damnation scriptures were written for you
    ·      Even if you stop using you’ll never escape your thoughts
    ·      Your carnal desires are ingrained in you – you are innately unworthy


    Regarding asking for help:

    ·      If you reach out for help people will think you are weak
    ·      Don’t admit when you mess up – you will only disappoint people
    ·      You always have to be happy, good enough and strong for people to like you
    ·      If you ask for help you will be sucking the energy of those around you
    ·      People like you because you are a charity case – they won’t really want to help you even if you asked
    ·      Stop being so weak – just buck up
    ·      No one thinks you are important
    ·      You can do this on your own
    ·      You should be able to do this on your own
    ·      Do this on your own

    The lies are endless…

    The single most important resource I have used to decipher Satan’s lies is to acknowledge how the thoughts that pop into my head make me feel.  If the thoughts I have leave me feeling scared, dark, lonely or hopeless then they are most definitely whispers of the adversary.

    How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil. 
    The adversary will use every tactical advantage in his arsenal to weaken and trample us but with our Savior out or side the adversary is left powerless and impotent.  Let us reside in the arms of the One who lifts us, comforts us and leads us home.  There we will find refuge and peace, comfort and hope, sustenance and rest.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    The Silversmith

    Some time ago, a few women met to study the scriptures. While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse:

    And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver
    One woman decided to visit a silversmith, and report to the others on what he said about the subject.

    She went accordingly, and without telling him the reason for her visit, asked the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver. 

    As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest as to burn all the impurities. 

    The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot, then she thought about the verse in Malachi. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time. 

    "Oh, yes ma'am," replied the silversmith; "I must sit and watch the furnace constantly, for, if the time necessary for refining is exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be damaged."

    The woman at once saw the beauty and comfort of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

    God sees it necessary to put His children into the furnace; but His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

    Before she left, the woman asked one final question, "How do you know when the process is complete?"

    He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy --- when I see my image in it.”

    ~Author Unknown~

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    "That which burns brightly must first endure fire"
    Victor Frankl

    Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

    "For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"