Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Don't Feel I Deserve to Be Forgiven

Dear Bishop,

I can't begin to tell you how scared I am right now.  I know that you are in the place of the Savior and that gives me some comfort.  I know that this is something that I have to do but that doesn't make it any easier.  


I hate to tell you this but I slipped.  I know I told you that I had stopped doing what I had been doing but I failed.  

I am so discouraged right now and I don't feel like I deserve to be forgiven.  I just need you to be understanding.  I don't want you to judge me or be disappointed in me, I just want you to encourage me to be better.  Your kindness has been vital to my healing and I am so thankful that you are my Bishop right now.  

Even though I messed up, I know that through the Atonement, I can be healed.  Before I told you I had stopped doing the awful things that I had been doing but I just couldn't stop.  I know now that it is an addiction and I can't quit on my own.  I need your help and your encouragement and also the help of my Savior to overcome this.  I long to feel the Spirit with me always and I don't feel like that is possible while I am addicted.  

I need your help Bishop.  

Love,


A Beautiful Daughter of God

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

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mapping Cycles

Learning to map my cycles was a huge part of my recovery.  I learned it from one of my greatest recovery friends.  She is a stalwart in recovery and I am so blessed to have her example to fashion my own recovery after.  She has given up very hard things, as you will see, in order to return home again.  She is an example to us all.

I felt it best that we all learn this principle of recovery from the one who has worked it to the bone... 

Thank you Nena, my dear friend... I surely do love you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I first went into recovery, I read everything I could get on the subject of addiction. One of my favorite books was The Addictive Personality by Craig Nakken (I found it in a two-volumes-in-one book with Addictive Thinking by Abraham J. Twerski). I was floored to see myself in those pages describing an addict. The perfect strangers who wrote those books knew me better than I knew myself.

One of the things Nakken talks about in The Addictive Personality is the cycle of addiction; I was fascinated by this & began a process of mapping my own addictive cycles. It took the rock-bottom threat of the loss of my marriage to shock me into recovery and open my eyes to not just the single acts of addiction but the full cycle of it. I understood that some actions would get me kicked out of the temple and out of my marriage, but before recovery I wasn't able to trace those actions into anything I had any control over. I thought I was just stupid or silly to perform that final act even though I knew it would bring destruction. When I finally realized I was an addict, I started with the actions and tried to work backwards one step at a time.

For example, the final destructive act in the addict cycle for me was hooking up physically. So I looked at it as pragmatically as I could: what led me to hook up with a guy? In almost every case, it started with an online relationship. OK, so online relationships were a component of the addiction. What led me to have an online relationship? In almost every case, it started with online profiles. That meant that online profiles were a component of my addiction. 

For my first level of recovery, I was lucky to have a bishop who required that I give up all these physical components. After working with my husband to get clear long-term understanding into my addictive patterns, Bishop laid out my probation: I couldn't ever be alone with a man I wasn't related to. I couldn't use the internet at all for anything that wasn't work related. I couldn't have online accounts or profiles that weren't related to work (and eventually after more than a year of recovery I realized that hanging onto a professional profile was "a skittle" for me, and gave that up too). 

My addict didn't let go easily: I hated it. I felt oppressed and restricted and humiliated. I felt dictated to. I did not want to give up all those things, but I was willing to follow the counsel of my bishop and my husband. In spite of the humiliation, I submitted to the treatment my bishop was inspired to prescribe. I went to tons of meetings. I called my sponsor and others in my women's support group. I worked my steps. And I started to get better.

But I wasn't done mapping the cycle yet... this is where it started to get tough. Honesty was critical now. What led me to have online profiles? I set up online profiles because I wanted attention. I found that the drug of attention was so deliriously intoxicating that I went back to it over and over again, and I didn't mind paying the price of sexually explicit conversation for that attention. Of course sexually explicit conversation stimulates its own drugs, and that drug use eventually progressed to where I needed a physical connection to get my fix.

What was causing me to want attention? Have you heard of BLAST? I was Bored, Lonely, Anxious, Stressed, and Tired. I didn't want to go home to my husband because there were things I was unhappy about in my relationship with him (both legitimate and imagined issues). Instead of facing and resolving those issues, I wanted to escape, so I chose to escape. I chose drugs instead of reality. It wasn't until I came to terms with my escaping reality that I could start facing reality. 

By now my brain had dried out from some of the physical components of the addiction - my husband and I had been separated for six months, so I was REALLY physically dry from acting out and I could go a level deeper. Why was I unhappy with my husband and what were the root issues I was avoiding? God revealed to me that I had been using my husband as my idol, that I had put him in God's place. As Lysa TerKeurst says, "Even a great husband makes a very poor God." I learned that all people are flawed and imperfect. When I expected my husband to read my mind and meet my every need without fault or failure, I was the one in the wrong, not him. It wasn't his fault that I: hadn't learned how to communicate my needs to him; hadn't insisted on resolution of issues that needed to be attended to; had hidden my self (fears) from him. I had expected him to "take care of me," and as unfair as that is in and of itself, I hadn't given him any tools to work with.

Wow. I was using him as my excuse for bad behavior. 

I started to try to catch myself as early in the chain of acting out as I could, but even in that effort, I hit a roadblock. This was a devastating blow to someone who had been raised to be completely self-reliant and independent: my brain could not be trusted. The addict side of my personality would use its crazy logic to rationalize risky and addictive behavior. At one point I set myself up to pick up a single male coworker from the airport & shuttle him around while we worked on his upcoming project. My husband saw right through this addictive finagling to get myself alone with a guy; I completely disagreed at the time, but looking back, I can see he was right. I'm glad now that I followed his counsel to have my coworker rent a car and meet at our office instead of all the one-on-one time I had planned with him.

I think this is one of the biggest challenges with the addictive cycle: addictive logic. The addict in us can and will make the components of the addiction seem not only harmless but necessary to our life & survival. I have seen women in sex addiction rationalize dancing, dating, cell phones, internet, gym memberships, relationships, and even marriages in order to continue acting out. For me, I was blessed to get to a point where I was willing to give up ANYTHING that came between me & my husband or between me & God, no matter how useful or good I thought it was, or no matter how silly the people who suggested I give it up seemed to be. God didn't tell us to cut off our little pinky if it offended us. Why not? After all, you don't REALLY need your pinky, so why not just trim a bit here and there?  No, God commanded that we cut off our very hand, or pluck out our eye, if it offended us. And again, I resented it. I did it because I felt I had to - although I also felt that God wanted me to. As I chose to submit to my husband's wishes and prayed for the Grace to be at peace with that submission, God granted me the peace I desired and also melted my husband's heart towards me. We had a beautiful season of reconciliation that I knew was a gift from God and a direct result of my submission to God's (and coincidentally my husband's) will.

I was lucky to have people who drew those boundaries for me and insisted that I give up the components of my addictive cycle. What if you don't have someone who will put pressure on you to give things up? I would suggest that you find someone. Get a sponsor who will be completely honest with you, and when they suggest you give something up, go the extra mile & give up that thing and two other things that are like it. You'll be guided by the spirit about when/if you can reintroduce it into your life, but be prepared to give it up forever if that's what it takes for you to be obedient to God's will for you. If you're a sponsor, don't hold back from telling the people you sponsor that you think something is a component of their addiction. It is ultimately their choice to continue any thoughts or behaviors, but your job as a sponsor is to point out roadblocks to recovery.

I look back now and am amazed and thankful that I somehow had the people around me that I needed, when I needed them, so that I could recover. God was and continues to be good & gracious to me, and I've just shared a tiny part of the miracle called Recovery that He worked in my life.


Contributed by Nena

Journal: I'm Sloshing All Over the Place

Do you ever feel like your 'addict' is spilling out all over the place and no matter how hard you try there is no way to keep it in?  That's how I feel right now.

I just had one of the worst weekends I've had in a long time.  I was triggering like crazy and I didn't come out on top.  I didn't slip - physically.  But I'd say I did mentally.

I have these fantasy rooms in my head that I call my 'what-if' rooms.  Most of them are dormant but there are a couple, one in particular, that still gives me a lot of trouble from time to time.  I go in that room to escape my reality.  It's cozy in there, warm, inviting and has an all-you-can-partake-of dopamine bar.  I pretty much lived in there all weekend.

Total failure...

I didn't reach out for help
I didn't tell anyone
...and
I offended the Spirit, more than once

I feel...

Ashamed
Angry
Frustrated
Stuck
Tired
Judgmental
Fake
Sad
Hypocritical
Alone
Vulnerable
Stupid
Weak

It's amazing to me how fast these feelings can come on and how absolutely heavy they are.

Normally I have some fiery words of defiance against the adversary to swing dark posts such as this one back into 'hope' but I really don't have anything today.

Except... I won't give up

...and

I'm sorry.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Grace

I used to believe
That Grace would not touch me until after I die
That I was to do all that I can on this earth on my own
And then
And only then
Grace would meet me where I stopped
I used to believe
That Grace was unattainable
Because way more often than not
I was not doing all that I could
I was busy indulging my natural woman
But by the very Grace I speak of
I have gained new knowledge
...that
Grace does not sit idly by
Waiting to see how far I get
And then if determined I did well enough
Meets me at the point at which I stop
No,  Grace is all around me
Always
Every moment
Of every day
Grace lifts my burdens in the here
and..
In the now
Grace pushes me from behind and pulls me from the front  
Grace stands on my left and on my right 
Grace catches me when I fall and helps me get back up again
Grace whispers to me that I am valuable and worthy
Grace does not stand idly by
And wait...
While I fail over and over in my own isolation
But instead sustains me with the power of 
"three glorified, exalted individuals-
God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost-
who are united in power and purpose to bring to pass
the immortality and eternal life..."
Of me

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Heart of Stone

Tonight I was reading in Ezekiel chapter 36, and as I read it the words changed in my head and bore testimony to me of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I felt impressed to share what I had read and pray that it will touch the spirit of someone in need.

Ezekiel 36:25-36 (modified) 
Then You sprinkled clean water upon me, and I was clean; from all my filthiness and all my addictions, did You cleanse me.  A new heart also You gave me, and a new spirit did You put within me: and You took away the stony heart out of my flesh, and You gave me an heart of flesh.  And You put Your spirit within me, and caused me to walk in Your statutes, and I will keep Your judgements and do them.  And I will dwell in the land that You gave my fathers; and I will be your daughter, and You will be my God.  You saved me from all my uncleanness's...And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden, or in other words, this woman who was filthy and sinful is become clean and pure through the atonement of Jesus Christ...Then the heathen that are left round about me shall know that You the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that was desolate: You the Lord have spoken it, and You have done it. 
I testify to you that Jesus Christ can, and will, change our very hearts.  If we allow Him to, He will take our desolate selves and turn us into the Garden of Eden.  It is not an easy process and it is not a fast process, but it is real.  My heart, that was stone, has been changed for a heart of flesh.

In the name of My Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.

Contributed by Anonymous

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Few Random Things About Me

So I found this pretty cool blog at random.  It's called Conversion Diary and details Jennifer's journey of conversion from atheism to Christianity.  I absolutely love reading about other people, about their lives, their struggles and especially their triumphs.  Their faith and courage surely inspires and nurtures my own faith and courage.

On Jennifer's blog was a post called A Few Odd Things About Me... and is meant to be sort of a 'get to know you' feature.  But not just get to know you about dumb stuff... like 'what's your favorite color' (I'm seriously sure no one cares what my favorite color is. and it probably changes as fast as my mood anyway) but seriously crazy random stuff.

I think this is such a fun idea and hope my fellow bloggers will also join in the fun!

So here goes...

                                                                           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. New Zealand

My Mother was born in Glasgow, Scotland but at around 10 years old migrated to New Zealand with her parents and two older brothers, Duncan and Alistair.  My mom eventually moved to the States but most of her family remained in New Zealand. When I was 11 I had the opportunity to take a trip with my mom and three younger siblings back to New Zealand and spend a summer there.  It was magnificent!  We lived right on Brighton Beach in Christchurch:

I'd walk across the street, over some sand dunes and into the presence of this magnificent view.
(If I had this to escape to everyday I wouldn't be an addict:-)
New Zealand was amazing.  I loved the cute shops, and the beautiful ocean air.  I loved the accents that people spoke with.  I loved the flying foxes (zip-lines) in every single park and I loved the Hokey Pokey ice-cream.  

Another memory I have is of this small wading pool up the street from my Grandparents house.  I would find myself swimming at this pool practically every single day.    

Yes, that is the ocean in the background.  
I had many opportunities while I was there that I haven't had since and I'm not sure I'll ever have again.  I climbed two glaciers while I was there, Franz Josef and Fox.  I also took a week long hike through 'the bush.'  We were met with swing bridges, creeks, rivers and a cabin at the end of each day...  

My mom, uncle Duncan, cousin Vanessa and friend Brian - on the 1 week hike through the 'bush'

The three months I spent there will be branded into my memory forever.  I hope to return there one day.  To me, New Zealand is truly God's country.  It is absolutely gorgeous there.  Neatly tucked away in the corner of the earth, untainted by war and ruin.


2. Miscarriage

When Brayden, my oldest son, was 2, Tim and I decided to try and get pregnant again.  We were having trouble and so my doctor put me on a fertility drug to force me to ovulate.  After many mornings of temperature taking I finally had a positive pregnancy test.  We were so excited!  The following 16 weeks went by without event, minus the horrendous morning sickness that plagued me.

Then the unthinkable happened.  On the way to driving Tim to work one day, with Brayden in the backseat, I sneezed.  And when I sneezed I felt a rush of fluid.  I went into complete panic mode thinking I was bleeding but soon determined that it was clear fluid.  We detoured straight to the doctors office who confirmed my fears.  My water had broken.

The doctor sent me home on bed rest and on day 3 my sweet baby boy was born in a trash bag over the toilet in my bathroom.  

I went through a really hard time with this loss.  So many emotions ran through me.  Hate, anger, sadness, rage, resentment, frustration, confusion, anxiety, worry, fear... all of it.

After about a month the fog began to lift.  We named our sweet angel baby soon after.  I felt it was important to give him a name... and solidify in our minds that even though Heavenly Father took him back home, he is still a part of our family.  We talk about Sean all the time now.  We even have video of him on the sonogram taken of him when I was around 14 weeks pregnant with him.  We love him and are truly blessed and honored to have such a valiant Spirit in our family.  We can't wait to see him again in Heaven.


3.  My Ugly Picture

We All have one... I hope(??).  A picture that we would die if anyone saw.  Well I'm going to show you mine.  This was girls camp in Montana in 1992.  I can't believe I'm posting this, but I'm sort of proud of its level of ugliness.. and I definitely feel triumphant with my level of vulnerability in showing it.

Girls camp, Eastern Montana wilderness, 1992


4. Skeletal Extras

The Lord has blessed me with an extra vertebra in the thoracic region of my spine.  Instead of 12 vertebra in that region, I actually have 13.  Weird right?  It happens in around 4% of the population.  I wonder what Darwin would say about that!


5. Tattoo

Yes, I have a tattoo.  It's funny because I forget I have it half the time until I see it in the mirror every now and then and it's like "oh ya."  Am I proud of it?  No.  If I had it to do it over again would I still get it?  No, because we have been counseled not to.  Am I ashamed of it or do I feel unworthy because of it?  Absolutely not.  Although, a couple of years back my then 7 year old caught glimpse of it (it's on my stomach) and gasped:
"Mom!  You have a tattoo!"
"Yes"
"Why did you get that!?!"
"Because I didn't follow the counsel of the Lord"
With a very serious look and tone he says...
"Mom, Jesus is mad at you."
HAH!  I just laughed.  Of course Jesus isn't mad at me but, I'm glad he takes disobedience so seriously.

And NO - you guys don't get a picture.  It looked nice at one point but it has endured three full term babies and is not pleasing to the eyes at this point.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So there you have it.  Five completely random things about me that the average person doesn't know.  :-)

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Three Step Waltz

As we work recovery we discover that Steps One, Two and Three become the lifeblood of all aspects of our recovery.  We discover over and over that at any given moment of any given day we are faced with the opportunity to admit powerlessness, surrender our will to the Lord and trust our lives to Him.  This process is essential in order to come unto Him, learn of Him, believe Him and love Him.

This process is commonly known as the 'Three Step Waltz.'


This simple saying, repeated over and over in my desperate moments, has become a mantra for the success of my recovery.

When I first began recovery the concept of admitting I was powerless to overcome my addiction was new to me.  I admit, I was slow to grasp it.  I knew I needed help but I still thought I could overcome on my own. Not only that I could, but that I was required to.  Letting go and admitting powerlessness incorporated letting go of false beliefs and humbling myself enough to listen and learn and adopt newly discovered truths.

This process seemed like it would be easy at first because I'd tried for so many years to get away from my addiction on my own that I thought I truly was ready to be completely done with it.  But I found it truly to be difficult.  I found I had to learn the principle before I could embrace or enact it.  I had  to learn that through the Atonement of my Savior I could not only receive help but He could and would actually heal me.  The thought of Christ healing me was difficult to comprehend.  I had spent so many years believing He didn't love me, didn't know me, and was completely ashamed of me.  Why would He heal me?  The thought baffled me.

The most difficult challenge then became to actually let Him heal me.  I often got stuck on the 'how' when trying to let Him.  How does one 'let' Him?  I found that in order to let Him heal me, it meant I had to expose myself to Him.  It meant I had to share my heart with Him.  It meant I had to let Him near me. It meant I had to be vulnerable and submissive.  All of those things I'd never done to keep myself protected.  I admit, I feared if I showed Him my weakness that He would reject me.  I felt like an outcast with leprosy.  Someone no one wanted to be around.  I felt like the women with an issue of blood that was shunned and shamed.  I couldn't understand why He would be any different, and on the off chance He was, it surely must have been out of obligation.  He Atoned for everyone, that was the deal, but for me He must have done it out of obligation.

So when learning that He not only didn't Atone for me out of obligation, but that He did it with a whole heart because He loves me I found myself faced with a decision.  I could either truly trust and raise my hands in complete submission before Him or outright defiantly deny Him.  In reality, there is no middle ground.  Only Satan would have us believe there is middle ground.

I couldn't do the latter... I just couldn't.

That first leap was the hardest leap thus far on my journey, yet I found it to be the most freeing.  Mid leap I opened my eyes and saw that the darkness and isolation I had been living in really had been escapable the entire time.  I hadn't been eternally bound like I'd felt.  I saw that the light of my Savior was always there, just waiting for me to reach out to Him.

With that single leap of faith I acknowledged that my Savior was invested in me and in turn, I was invested in Him.  It was at that moment, mid leap, seeing Him reach for me that I decided to make sure His sacrifice for me was not in vain.

My recovery has been solely based on these three beliefs...

I can't
God Can
I Will Let Him

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Journal: Writing For the Future

So I have had some thoughts lately about my blog that I just want to voice...

I have 50 draft posts.  Is that a crazy amount?  I don't know.  When I told my husband his eyes about popped out.  They just keep stacking up!  Most of them are 'educational' posts... you know, about things like Triggers, Pride Cycle and Mapping Cycles etc... things that I want to write about and teach but seem to keep getting back-burnered.  Writing educational posts aren't really all that 'fun' and sometimes I feel preachy writing them.  


BUT... they are IMPORTANT.  Let me tell you where I'm coming from.


I'm not just writing this blog for people who might run across it today, tomorrow or in a month or a year.  I'm writing this blog for those who will find this blog after I die.  I'm writing it for my own grandchildren and their grandchildren and anyone else who might come across it between now and the moment I help usher the Savior in on the morning of the first resurrection.   So I don't want to just write about my own feelings and struggles.  I want to get some educational stuff up here that will help people with the nitty gritty of recovery.  I feel such a strong impression from the Spirit to write.. "keep writing, write write write"... which I love to do, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it's a bit overwhelming.  


It's sort of funny.  I remember when I first started blogging I was terrified I was going to run out of content.


HAH!!

That is soooo funny now.  I have come to realize that the Lord will NEVER let me run out of content.  In fact let me tell you about this next little project He has lined up for me.


I while ago I wrote a blog post called Whisperings of the Adversary where I detailed many of the lies Satan has told me to keep me stuck in addiction and isolated from recovery.  I had a sister suggest that I counteract each lie with it's truth because many times when we are midst the swirling fog of the lie we really can't determine what is truth.  At first I was going to just simply state the truth, the opposite of the lie.  But that seems weak and shallow.  Then I was going to create a spreadsheet and add thoughts and scriptures to dispel each lie.  But somehow I felt like it would get lost that way.  I felt like it still wasn't enough.  So I sat on it for yet another significant period of time.  And then it came to me.  I'm to write each lie as a blog post.  I'm to break the lie down and combat it with the light of truth.


So the new series will be titled "The Lies" and I will work to compile my own experience, quotes from our leaders and scripture to dispel each lie.  


This obviously is a huge undertaking and will keep me busy for a while.  


I also welcome lie suggestions.  I have a healthy list to start from but if you have anything specific you'd like dispelled I'd like to hear it... because if you are hearing it, so are others.


I am also setting a goal to start digging in on writing and publishing my draft posts.  Some are as old as my blog!  Sheesh!


Anyway.  I just wanted to give you guys a heads up on what is to come!!


Much love to you all!:-)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fireside Invitation - Come Say Hi!

Hey Folks!

Tim and I would like to invite you to the ARP Fireside in our mission this Sunday.  We would also like to invite you to come say hi to us!  We feel that each of you are like our family and we'd love to meet you.

The Fireside:

Northridge Stake Center
1660 N 200 W in Orem
March 17, 2013
7:30pm

This is what we look like if you want to say hi to us!  

Dear Bishop: I Need You So That I Can Be Worthy

Dear Bishop,

I wish I didn't need to write this to you but I have to be honest about the way you reacted to me reaching out to you.  I’m frustrated with you, Bishop.  I wish I wasn't but I need you to know.  I came to you to talk about my addiction.  I wanted you to understand what I have been through, what I am going through, and how I am feeling because this addiction is hard.  Its everywhere and I face it daily whether I want to or not.

I wanted to help you to understand a little about women caught in sexual addiction but  mostly I wanted to know that I had a place of protection, a safe haven, that I could go to and feel my Heavenly Father’s love for me.  To me, you are the symbol of Heavenly Father’s love for me and yet you blew me off like you didn't want to deal with me.  That hurt.  I am grateful, after years of hard work,  that I currently have a good understanding of how God feels about me because if I hadn't I would have felt like Heavenly Father Himself was brushing me off.

I know you are new but you left me feeling like I was the only person in the ward to have this kind of problem.  Maybe our ward is extremely lucky and I am the only one dealing with this type of thing but I have a strong feeling that’s not the case.  I want you to be able to help those who come to you in their time of need.  I want you to be able to help me.  Honestly, Bishop, I was extremely scared to talk to you about this issue.  Its not something I talk about easily with most people and that’s after years of sobriety and recovery under my belt.

You are most likely the first person an addict will talk to about their problem and you can’t just push them to a group then wash your hands of it.  If that had been my first experience with a bishop, I don’t think I would have ever returned to you.  I don’t think I would have the recovery I currently have.  You are vital not only to my recovery but anyone else who seeks you out.  Please understand that your role as my bishop is so important to me.  Please understand that this addiction can and will keep me out of the temple.  This addiction can and will keep me out of the Celestial Kingdom.  Please, Bishop, I need you so that I can be worthy.  Please just listen to my pleading.  You are a good man, Bishop.  Please use that goodness to help everyone you can.

Sincerely,

A Beautiful Daughter of God

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Journal: Even If I Slipped



I'm having a hard time and I just need to put it somewhere.  I've had three user dreams in the last 5 days and I'm worn out.  I'd gone quite a long time without one, and really, having them every now and then doesn't really bother me anymore, but this is excessive.  I woke up from one of them and I was disappointed.  I was disappointed that I'd woken up.  I didn't want the dream to end.  That scared me.

I feel like I'm under attack.  It's funny that I say that though because really, I don't think there is any minute of any day that I'm NOT under attack.  That goes for all of us.  But I feel like when it's especially hard, like right now, it means I'm doing something right.

That fits.  It makes sense to me.  I've had a number of women reach out to me lately... which of course the adversary absolutely hates.  So it makes sense that he would attack me.  He possibly thinks that if he attacks me and gets me to fall that I would no longer be a source of hope for others.

Well I have something to say to you... Satan...

To you I say...
Even if I did slip... I wouldn't quit.
I'd get back up again.
I'd keep working.
And even if I slipped, I will never, ever stop testifying of the grace of God.
Even if you were to succeed in tripping me, I wouldn't give up.
You see, I know that slips do not define me.
So if I were to slip, it may seem like a victory to you, but it's not.
Because me getting up AFTER a slip is much more powerful than the slip itself.
And I will ALWAYS get back up.

So, to you Satan, Lucifer, Son of the morning, worm-tongue and bona-fide JERK...  I say...

I choose my God... and...

YOU. WILL. NOT. WIN.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Just Can't Tell Him I Failed



I received a message from a 17 your old girl who is struggling with some fear.  I thought it would be good to post her dilemma here and ask for your guys thoughts on her problem.  I post this with her permission of course!
I talked to my Bishop in September (about my problem) and I was doing great but I just fell back into my old ways and I just don't feel like I can go to him and tell him that I have failed.  I pray everyday for the courage to be able to go talk to him but whenever I get the chance I just chicken out and don't do it.
We have all been scared to see our sweet Bishops and confess our struggles.  What did you do to overcome that fear?  What words of wisdom can you offer this sweet sister?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sexual Addiction = Spiritual Diabetes

Early in recovery I would crumble at the thought of being stuck with my addiction for my entire life.  Literally, I would groan, roll my eyes and begin an internal whine dialogue with God telling him how much I hated my addiction and wished He'd just take it from me.

Sound familiar?

That was three years ago.  I still have my moments every now and then where I wish I weren't an addict but thankfully they are scarce.  I am content with who I am, a daughter of God recovering from a sexual addiction, because it has been by way of that recovery process that has made me who I am today.  I would never give that back.

I've had a number of women recently ask me if I still actively struggle.  They seem to think (hope) that a person as far along as I am in recovery no longer struggles or triggers and is completely free of addiction.  I feel their spirit's literally sag with disappointment when I tell them that yes, I do still struggle.  I still trigger.  I still have to take every precaution to keep myself safe.  I still have (get) to visit with my Bishop on a regular basis.  I still check in with my sponsor(s) as needed.  I still do all the things I tell my sponsee's to do.

But there is a difference....

My addiction is now manageable.

Think about it.  Our addiction is like spiritual diabetes.  How does a diabetic manage their diabetes?  They work a disciplined regiment to keep their blood sugar and insulin levels in a consistent normal range.  They do dailies.  They check their blood sugar often throughout the day, just like we take our spiritual temperature throughout the day.  They sometimes have to inject themselves with insulin to balance out their sugar and sometimes we have to take extra care to submerge ourselves in things that invite the Spirit to keep us safe.

It is possible to live a completely happy and normal life as a diabetic.  And so it is with sexual addiction.  I am normal (well, I suppose that's debatable), and I am definitely happy.  I live a very fulfilling and great life.

How?

I am under the care of the Great Physician.
He is the One and Only that can help me manage my spiritual diabetes.
I follow His counsel to keep my disease under control.
When my disease flares up, I make an appointment to see Him.
And guess what?
I don't have to wait days or week to see Him.
He's available anytime I need Him, day or night.
He is always kind and never speaks harshly to me even though at times it is my own fault that my flare-up has occurred.
He simply expresses His gratitude to me for calling on Him so He can help me.
And each time I leave His office I feel whole and bright and happy.
He always instills in me the desire to do better.
He loves me.
He is my God, my Savior and my Brother.
Jesus Christ

So yes, I do still very much struggle with my addiction.  But it is manageable.  And with that, I am content.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dear Bishop: You Loved Me Back to Life

Dear Bishop,

The first time I confessed to you, I was so scared I couldn't speak. You were gracious and did the speaking for me. I believe I gave verbal clues to get you on the right path, but you guessed your way to the problem. Thank you so much for that. I felt like a coward, but I literally was paralyzed with fear. I didn't know what you would think. I didn't know if you would tell my parents. I didn't know if I would get in official trouble. I was 16, and I'd already been addicted for years. I didn't know I was addicted, and neither did you (I don't think you could have) so we didn't talk about addiction.

You were gentle and sweet. You told me things about myself that I tried to believe because I believed you believed them. "You are destined for great things" you said. You didn't condemn me. You showed no signs of disgust. Thank you for your grace and your wisdom. Thank you for your love. You were perfect then; just what I needed.

I grew, and your face changed, but not your title or your roll. Every time I saw a new bishop, the terror returned. Confession to a new face never did get easier. But your love never ceased to astonish and humble me. Thank you for your ceaseless love!

Bishop, as I look back, I wish you'd done a few things differently. I recognize that we're all human and that you can't advise what you don't know about, but if it helps, please consider this: You never told me about the Church's Addiction Recovery Program. One time, you mentioned it, but it was like an "in case you're ever interested, you can find the info online." Why would I be interested in discussing my addiction with other people? That did not appeal to me at all. So when you never mentioned it again, it didn't seem like a good idea. Bishop, I wish you would have encouraged me to attend a meeting. I wish you would have told me that I would find healing through the program. I wish you would have taken me by the hand and walked me into a meeting, if that's what it took. That's how important I have found this program to be. I went on my own accord, years after you casually mentioned it, and through it, I have found the tools that will save me.

Please tell other struggling sisters about this inspired program. Please do everything short of begging them to attend. Please tell them they are not alone.

Bishop, it would mean so much if you attended a meeting with me. Especially a meeting where I'm the only woman in a room full of men. I would really feel like you were trying to understand if you attended one meeting. And one meeting would be plenty.

Only one time, when I was 19, did you ever make me feel like I was a bad person for having this problem. Otherwise, you have been most supportive and kind. That is what has kept me returning to you when I needed to. However, if I may suggest, I do wish you would have made it so very abundantly clear that you did not find me to be a freak of nature for having what I believed was a man's disease. Especially after I added pornography to my confessions. I wish you would have told me that other women struggle in this way. I wish you would have told me that good women struggle in this way. When I figured it out on my own, and told you that this addiction does not make me a freak of nature, you enthusiastically agreed. Thank you for that validation. Please, when you get the chance, tell every woman who comes to you with sexual addictions that she is normal. Please tell her that she's still a woman- NO LESS than any other sister in the ward. Please tell her that she is still beautiful and still needed and wanted by God. Please tell her that God doesn't see her problem as a man's problem, but as her problem, and that being a woman sex addict isn't any worse or any different from being a sex addict.

One thing that makes confession especially difficult is that you are a man, and I am a woman. I am never comfortable sharing things of a sexual nature with you, because you are a man. But, because I know you are my bishop, and that you represent my Savior, I can mostly look past the fact that you are also a man. For a long while, I worried that my confessions may arouse you, and nothing would be more embarrassing than that. I worried very much that you might think I was trying to hit on you or make you attracted to me. I know it may sound self-absorbed, but I don't think that's it at all. Having watched so many pornographic videos and seeing how men treat women in them (which I know is not reality), and also after having been treated as a sexual object by men in my own real life, it's not so far-fetched to worry that you may think I'm trying to seduce you. To this day, I am very careful with my words, and I am sure I have left things out for fear of being misinterpreted. I would die a little to think that you thought I had motives with my confessions.

I tell you this because if I think that way, other women will too. Please be aware. Please understand how difficult it is to confess this sin! Please consider the heavy, heavy shame I must feel when I tell you, a man, my most guarded and most hated secrets. Help me to dispel the shame by telling me truths about who I am.

Please don't tell me "Everyone's an addict," or "everyone's addicted to something." I hate those phrases. Maybe it's true, but when you say it to me, it feels like you're discounting my experience. It feels like you're saying "it's not a big deal. Just stop what you're doing-- it's easy." Please try to truly understand the nature of addiction. Please take my confessions seriously, because I guarantee that no matter how small they may seem to you, they're huge to me.

For your endless encouragement, I am boundlessly grateful. Thank you for pointing out my courage. Thank you for reminding me of my strengths. Thank you for giving me a blessing every time I asked for it. One time, about three years ago, you told me "Call me when you're tempted, at any time, even if it's two in the morning," and you gave me your cell phone number. I put you to the test one late night at about 11, and you were there just like you promised. And you talked me through it. And you never, for one fleeting second, hinted that you were angry at the late night call. The next time I saw you, you thanked me for calling. I called you a few times after that, and you were always happy to help me. Bishop, that event changed the course of my life. You proved that I was worth your time. I can't thank you enough for that.

You have saved my life with your love. If it wasn't for you, I may have left the church, becoming so overwhelmed with all the good people in it. You helped me see that I am a good person, too. You helped me see that no one is without their sins. You loved me back to life, Bishop. You helped me understand that I am important to the Savior, so important.

I love you.

With a lifetime of thanks,

A Beautiful Daughter of God

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Bravest Man I Know

My husband recently started his own blog and today he trusted, stretched and relied on more faith than he ever has in his life.  I am truly blessed to not only know such a valiant Spirit but extremely lucky to be married to him.

Please take a moment to read his post...  we are in this together and I am so happy to now have him at my side, fighting together, working together, loving the Savior together and spreading hope together.

I am truly blessed...


(click the link below)

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Lonely Shopping Cart



It was 1996'ish.  I worked as a server at Coco's restaurant in Torrance California.  It was late at night by the time my shift ended, probably midnight or even closer to 1am.  I didn't have a car at the time and so I would walk home after each shift.  On this particular night it was pouring rain, so I bundled myself up and began my trek home through the neighboring Mervyn's parking lot.  I'd made it about half way through the lot when I happened upon two shopping carts, sitting side by side, their front wheels strategically placed up on a curb by customers conscious to not let them roll away.  Fortunately there was a tree right next to the same curb so the carts were snuggled together, sheltered from the rain, and safe under the tree.

It warmed my heart...

Until...

I walked another twenty feet or so and noticed a lone shopping cart out in the middle of the parking lot all by itself.  I immediately felt this wave of sorrow for this lonely shopping cart but despite my feelings I walked right by it and continued home.

I didn't get far...

After another 30 feet or so I stopped.  I turned around and eyed the shopping cart, alone in the cold rain.  I glanced passed it and saw the two shopping carts together under the tree and thought to myself "it sure would be nice for that lonely shopping cart to be with it's friends."

I stood there for quite a while consumed with inner conflict.  On one hand I knew it was stupid to move the cart... I mean... it's a shopping cart!  A complete inanimate object!  It has no feelings!  But the logic could not penetrate and dispel the sorrow I was feeling for the stupid lonely cart!

I was sunk...

I walked back and with determination I moved the shopping cart under the tree with it's friends.

It felt good and I was satisfied:-)

A couple of years ago I ran into the following video and about lost my head laughing so hard.  I have found comfort in this video, for it proves I'm not the only one that feels sorry for inanimate objects!

I AM NOT ALONE!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Touching Gray

A while back I listened to a woman as she expressed how she wished she could handle "touching the gray like normal people."  Her statement struck me, not as funny, but as worrisome. Her statement brought me to ponder the concept of light and dark, and gray when the two mix.

What do I mean by "touching gray?"  Well let's first examine what the word actually means.

Webster defines gray as the following:

adj
1.             of a neutral tone, intermediate between black and white, that has no hue and reflects and transmits only a little light
2.            dismal or dark, esp from lack of light; gloomy

On one end of the spectrum we have white or light which is clean and unstained from the world; which is pure and untainted from sin.  It represents the Light of Christ and everything that is virtuous and of Grace.  On the opposite end we have black or dark which represents the darkness and impurity of the world.  It represents the ultimate culmination of sin and utter abandon into the grasp of the dark ones grip.  Our goal in this life is to get as close to white as possible.  Perfect whiteness or perfect purity will not happen in this lifetime as we know, but we have the wonderful gift of agency so we can get as close to white as possible before appearing before the judgment seat.

White (purity) mixed with even the tiniest amount of black (influence of the adversary) is going to bring some level of gray.  So the question is, why, when our goal is to be as close to white as possible on this earth, would we want to knowlingly and willingly mix with dark in order to "touch gray?"

For me, prior to recovery (and even now sometimes - because I'm not yet perfect), I'd do it because it is enticing and exciting, or sometimes because of peer pressure and even because I was actively rebelling.  I don't know how many times I have watched a show and thought "oh it's ok as long as I fast forward through the sex scenes" or "this show is ok because they bleep out all the bad words (as if my mind doesn't auto fill in the blanks)"... In fact, just the other day I was justifying darkness when I was listening to a classic 80's song that I have loved for so long "Red Red Wine"...  It came on the radio station as I was driving home from work and I immediately turned it up and began belting the lyrics "Red Red Wine you make me feel so fine, you keep me rockin all of the time."  Immediately the Spirit spoke to me and I knew this is not something I should be listening to.  So I turned the station.  This is not to say I don't have my mourning periods over things I have had to give up that taint my Spirit gray... oh do I ever.  I remember having to delete all of my Britney Spears and Lady GaGa from my iPod.  I was not happy.  Yes it was full of sexual content, lust and full on raunchiness but I thought I couldn't live without it because I absolutely LOVE dance music and no one does it better than Britney and Lady GaGa.  But I finally came to a point that the love I felt for my Savior and my desire to be near Him outweighed my love for dance music and my desire to wiggle it just a little bit.  And yes, for a week or few after deleting all my innappropriate music I did miss it.  But did I survive?  Yes.  Do I miss it now?  No.  Am I offended  by it when it comes on the radio now?  YES.  Not just offended, but actually embarrassed that I used to like it. 

We may wonder if it's worth sacrificing something that is 99% white (good) if only 1% black (dark) is making it gray. 

1 Nephi 10:21 

Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.

Does Heavenly Father expect perfection?  No, and good thing.  But He does expect progression.  All He wants is for us to keep working to do better.  Did it take me upwards of a year into recovery before I gave up my Britney and Lady GaGa?  Yes.  But that's how it worked for me.  If someone had made me give it up, I would have been upset and resentful.  But because I came to the knowledge on my own, through progression, that it was time to give it up and by then I did so willingly. 

This world is full of darkness that will taint our light gray.  But I also know that the Light of Christ can reside in each of us - and purify us from within if we let Him - so that the light we seek will forever be in us and not be reliant on what is around us.  We can each be Christ's fireflies as He charges each one of us and we go out into the world and create light for others who may be in dark places.  So long as we remain in the presence of our Savior for rescue, refuge and rest and to be recharged, our light will forever burn bright and never ever dim.

Pinterest

Hello folks!

I want to let you know about the Light of Grace Pinterest account.  Nothing but positive stuff there.  I created it a while ago on a whim.  I spent some time building boards and pinning to them when I first opened the account but haven't for a while.

Until...

Recently a woman who struggles with sexual addiction reached out to me who actually found my blog through some things I pinned on Pinterest.  How awesome is that!?

So that was confirmation to me that I need to keep it going.  It's a fun and easy way to not just spread recovery but to just spread positive vibes.

So I invite all of you to follow me on Pinterest... :-)

Follow Me on Pinterest

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Faith

Doubt sees the Obstacles,

Faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the dark of night,

Faith sees the day.

Doubt dreads to take a step,

Faith soars on high.

Doubt questions "Who believes?"

Faith answers "I"

~Author Unknown~

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"