Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Saw Love in Your Eyes

Dear Bishop,

I want to write you a letter and tell you how much you mean to me.  You were the very first Bishop I told about my problem.  The very first Bishop I really let in and trusted enough to expose how deep my addiction ran.

I remember that day very clearly.  It was a Sunday.  It was before church.  Sitting in the lobby waiting for you to call me in was absolute torture.  It took everything in me to not get up and run.

I'm not sure you know or understand how hard it was for me to come in and see you.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I thought for sure you'd think I was dirty and gross and never want to speak to me again.  I was terrified that you wouldn't want me around your family anymore and that my confession would affect my cherished friendship with your wife.  I don't really know what drove me to go in to see you.  I think the pain had finally become heavier than I could bear.  Gratefully, with the Lord's help, I mustered the courage to make an appointment.

When I told you that I was addicted to viewing pornography I expected to see revulsion and repugnance wash across your face.  But that didn't happen.  Instead of  disgust, I saw love in your eyes.  You were gentle with me as you asked me more specific questions to better understand the depth of my pain.  Those questions were very hard to answer, but I appreciated your need to better understand exactly what I was struggling with.  I also appreciated you taking me seriously.

Shortly after meeting with you, you were called as Stake President.  As happy as I was for you, I was devastated for myself.  I'd lost the first person I really trusted with my problem.  I didn't know how to handle that. I felt completely abandoned.  By you and by my Heavenly Father.  I was so confused.  I regret not expressing those feelings to you at the time.  I would do that differently, if I could.

I remember you suggesting that I talk to the next Bishop about my problem, but I couldn't.  I couldn't muster the courage for that.  The new Bishop had no idea that I was struggling  and as a result didn't reach out to me.  Without that contact I sunk back into fear and fell into inactivity.  My family soon moved away from the ward and I  was seemingly forgotten.

Reflecting back, I think the Lord was teaching me.  Teaching me that a simple confession would not cure me.  He was teaching me that I was powerless over this monster within me and only by the grace of my Savior could I be rescued and healed.  I had to humble myself to the point of complete submission in order to get better.  It took time.  But when the Lord introduced me to the recovery program seven years later the time was right.  He kept me searching for help for a significant stretch of time so that when I finally found it I would never let it go.  He is wise.  I had been desperately seeking for answers for so long that when I found it I was ready to be putty in His hands.

Even though I didn't have the opportunity to work with you closely during my recovery, you still played a key role.  You planted a seed.  A seed that grew into knowledge that I would not be judged harshly, looked down upon, scoffed at or shamed.  That knowledge provided courage for me to see my current Bishop.  That seed grew into a bed of faith.  You were a true representative of our Savior.  You shared in my pain and loved me anyway.  For that I will be forever grateful.

Thank you for being my advocate and friend.  Thank you for letting me rely on your testimony when mine was faltering.  And thank you for being gentle with me.

I love you.

A Beautiful Daughter of God

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! It is true! There is so much fear going to see the Bishop, but so much love there too! :)

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  2. I absolutely love this feature of your blog. That first leap of faith to share with a Bishop can be so terrifying. These letters are powerful reminders to all of us that when we need help, the Lord has provided loving Priesthood leaders to guide us back to Him.

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

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"