Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Time I Called the FBI


I used to work as a supervisor in a call center that handled inbound customer service calls for a major printing company.

I arrived at work one morning and was quickly greeted by one of my call center agents who said she received a call from the FBI earlier that morning.  The FBI Agent stated we were involved with fraudulent emails being sent to customers of a bank on the East coast.

I got settled in at my desk and immediately pulled up the call and listened to it.  The FBI Agent was clearly upset as he related that he had received a call from the bank manager stating that his customers were receiving emails asking them for personal information.  The FBI Agent also stated that the emails being sent happened to list our 1-800 number as the customer service number for said customers to call. Flustered, my call center agent denied any and all involvement. The FBI Agent was unrelenting however, and refused to believe that our company was legitimate.

I was on a mission to clear all confusion and let the bank and the FBI know that our company had no involvement and were also victims in this scam.

Unfortunately, the FBI Agent was abrupt when he hung up, yelling "we're going to get you!" and failed to leave his contact information.  He did, however, mention the name of the bank.  So I looked up the contact information for the bank, called, and asked to speak with the President, the man who originally made the complaint to the FBI.

The bank President explained the scam and said he was concerned with our company because our number was used.  I countered that we were a legitimate national company and are in no way involved with the scam.  I then asked if I could have the number for the FBI agent he talked to so I could call him back and clear our name with them as well.  Although he couldn't remember the name of the agent he spoke with, he did offer the number for his local FBI office that he'd called.  We ended the conversation pleasantly with the exchange of phone numbers and promises of communication if further information manifested.

I then dialed the FBI Office:

"Federal Bureau of Investigation, can I help you?"
"Hi, I'm calling because our company's phone number was used in a banking email scam and the bank President had called you earlier and said we were involved.  I just wanted to call to let you know that we are a legitimate company and are no way involved."
"Hold please while I transfer you to an agent."
:::: .............. tick tock............::::
"Hi this is Special Agent FBIGuy"
"Hi, my name is Sidreis and I'm calling because a bank President in your area had called you guys earlier and reported our company as being involved in an email scam with his bank customers.  I'm kind of returning your guys' call since we received a call from you guys this morning after the bank President called you."
"I didn't call you"
"Um, well maybe you didn't, but the FBI Agent that took the complaint did."
"I am the FBI Agent that took the complaint and I didn't call you, I haven't had time to look at the case yet."
:::: awkward pause ::::
"Oh, well, that's weird, because we did receive a call this morning from someone claiming to be the FBI.  I have it recorded, I just barely listened to it."
"What number called you?"
"Oh.  Um. Let me check.  It's xxx-xxx-xxxx"
"That's the number of the bank"
:::: holy crap ::::
"Um, ya, you're right it is"
"So they for sure said they were from the FBI?"
"Yes, I have it recorded.... he identifies himself as an FBI Agent, that's why I've been so persistent to get this cleared up."
"I'm going to call the bank and have a talk with the bank President."

Ten minutes later....

Phone rings:

"Hi this is Sidreis"
"Hi this is the bank President."
"Oh hi"
"I just wanted to call and apologize.  I messed up big time.  It wasn't the FBI that called you this morning.  It was me.  I called and said I was the FBI because I thought you were part of the scam and I wanted to scare you.  I didn't realize you were a victim in all of this too.  The FBI just called me and they are on their way down to my bank right now to investigate me.  They said I could be arrested for impersonating a Federal Agent."

::: Oops :::

So that's my story of the time I talked to an FBI Agent.  One of the coolest moments of my life since I'm completely obsessed with FBI Investigations.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this experience:

1. Don't assume
2. Be honest
3. Never EVER impersonate an FBI agent

:-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Book?

So I have some great news that I've been sitting on as I've waited for it to solidify into a more tangible reality.  That time has come.  I recently was approached by a PhD of Psychology and author who asked if I was interested in co-authoring a book with him.  Never had I dreamed of such an opportunity.  I, of course, took the idea to Tim, who reached out and sent my blog to a childhood friend of his whom he thought worked promoting bloggers.  Turns out she's actually the lead publicist over LDS authors for Deseret Book.

WOWSA!

She responded:
Oh My.. I am in tears after reading some of your wife's posts and watching her video.  What a strength she has and I felt her spirit through each word I read.  I started working at Deseret Book in January as their lead publicist.  I handle all their LDS titles and National titles (Shadow Mountain).  If you don't mind I'd like to share the blog with our Product Director.  I'll be in touch again soon and thanks again for reaching out to me.
We waited about a month or so with no word so I asked my husband to again reach out to her, if anything, just for direction to help us better know which direction we should proceed.

We received this message this morning:
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.  I think having your wife start the writing process would be great.  I believe her message is so strong that publishing doors will open for her.  
I'm stunned and grateful and stunned and grateful all at the same time.

But my path has been made clear.

I am to write.

So, write, I will do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Gift of Forgetfulness

I had a friend recently ask me some questions about what to expect during a disciplinary council.  She knew that I'd been through one and wondered if I could give her a rundown of what happens.  I am willingly open about my story and all that I have gone through so I was more than happy to offer my experience and answer any questions she had.

But something odd happened.  

I seriously couldn't remember much of what happened; with my actual council and with my reconvening council.   The original council happened about 12 years ago and the reconvene council was 3-4 years after that.  I fell into a period of inactivity between the two.

I found myself sad.  Sad that I couldn't remember.  I wanted to be able to remember in order to offer my friend information but I also wanted to remember for me.  Disciplinary councils are often very spiritual experiences filled with the spirit of the Atonement and I wanted to remember that.

I wanted to remember mine.

So I thought to email my two former bishops. The first being the bishop who held my first council and the second being the bishop who held my reconvene.  I am still in close contact with both of them.  Love those men.

I basically asked each of them the same thing.  I explained the reason I was emailing and wondered if they could help me fill in the gaps in my memory of the councils I had with each of them.  I clarified that I didn't expect them to remember everything because I was sure they'd been privy to a number of councils after mine, but that I had general questions I hoped they could answer.  Questions specifically in regard to what happened after they interviewed me and asked me to step out of the room for a time.  I asked:
  • Did you deliberate?
  • Did you talk about me?
  • Pray for me?
  • About me?
  • Was the Lord very clear in His direction during that time?
  • Did you 'vote'?
  • Do you remember how you felt?
I felt sad as I wrote these questions.  A level of desperation washed over me as I felt a deep loss for those memories.  Almost as if I was mourning them.  

Why can't I remember?
This was such an important time in my life
I should be able to remember

I did not have to wait long to receive the responses I was so anxiously waiting for:

Original Council Bishop:
You ask good questions.  During the deliberation we make sure we have followed the correct procedures.  We consider the mitigating and exacerbating circumstances and try to get a sense of what the Lord would have us do to most of all help the transgressor, but also to protect the innocent and the church.  Once we reach a consensus we kneel and pray about our decision and then discuss our feelings following the prayer.  Once we feel we have a sense of what the Lord would have us do we invite the person on whose behalf we are holding the council to join us and share the decision.

Reconvene Council Bishop:
I appreciate your email.  Interestingly enough, it's amazing to me how the atonement even wipes my brain of any memory.  In fact, it has taken me quite some time of pondering to even remotely remember holding a reconvening.  I'll do my best to answer your questions, but please remember that the atonement really does work and your former priesthood leader never thinks of or remembers anything about the council held.

As for when we ask the member to leave while we consider the outcome, I will do my best to explain.  First, when we hold a reconvening we usually don't even talk of the original reasons the council was held in the first place.  The focus is on the things done since the last council.  How did the member do with doing all the things in the letter received after the first council.  Then we share our personal feelings with regard to reinstating.  The bishop and counselors don't vote.  The bishop holds the keys and he has the final say, although it's more conducive to the spirit when all three are on the same page.  Which was always my experience, especially knowing that someones membership hangs in the balance.  It's also very humbling.  After we feel good about moving forward and that our prayers have been heard, we have the member come in and share the outcome.

Again, I really don't remember holding a council for you.  I have NO IDEA what the original council was, and I believe this is the beauty of the whole process.  I love seeing the atonement in action.  I love the slate being wiped clear.  It's a great thing.

I was especially struck by the latter testimony.  I found it so fascinating that he didn't even remember that I had a council with him, let alone what was said.

But honestly, what he had to say to me was a huge answer to a prayer in my heart.

I was really bothered that I couldn't remember anything about either councils. I pride myself on my memory. I can usually remember the most specific things from years and years ago. Especially things that are emotionally and spiritually impressive. So it was really hard for me to understand why I couldn't remember these two events. 

But as I read his words I was struck by how many times he mentioned that God wipes priesthood leaders memory's.  The Lord then whispered to me "why wouldn't I erase yours too?"  and at that precise moment the scripture "neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more" came to mind and it all came together and touched my spirit.

The Atonement frees me, each of us, from shame. Holding on to such a memory would keep me locked in shame. So the Lord had purpose in releasing me from those memories.  He forgave me, healed me, and simply told me "forget and go and sin no more."  

The fact that I can't remember, just as my Bishop, is a gift. A beautiful gift. 

I am so very grateful.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And They Did Have Light Continually


We all know the story of the Brother of Jared.  We are most familiar with the Brother of Jared asking the Lord to touch stones in order to light the vessels he had prepared for their upcoming journey.  There is more to the story though; more that has recently been revealed to me.  I have grown to absolutely love this story for it has offered me more indepth knowledge of the purpose of my trials and a personal testimony that the Lord is personally escorting me through them.

And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?
I love this.  The Lord personally helps prepare me for the thrashing of waves and strong winds that I will endure along my journey.  But I also love that He doesn't do everything for me.  He asks me questions to encourage me to think for myself and in turn ask Him for help; to ask Him for the very specific things which I need to stay buoyant. stay faithful and endure to the end.    
O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.
I love the Brother of Jared here.  He sounds like me.  He sounds nervous and anxious because he is about to ask God something that he knows God can do, but he feels entirely unworthy to even ask.  But he doesn't let that fear get in the way, he leans into it and asks anyway.  I am left reflecting on how many times I have simply not asked for things I need because I am scared, or I feel unworthy, when God is sitting there, right in front of me, willing me to just ask.  I do kind of love though, that he reminded God of His promise before asking Him to light the stones.  Kind of like "OK God, you said you would do this and that's the only reason I'm asking."  I love seeing the human side of super faithful prophets.  It helps me feel more normal.
And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.
The Lord does not want me to be in darkness.  He will personally light my stones, anytime I ask, as often as I ask.  He does this more often than I recognize, I am sure.  But I am working to be more aware of when He does do it.  A good example is when I asked Him to send me a very specific Angel, and He did.

And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
It's important to note that these chosen people did all they could to prepare for their arduous journey.  They knew their journey was called of God, they had faith in Him, they believed and trusted Him.  They worked hard before their storm to prepare themselves as best they could for the storm.  I can learn from this.  It's important for me to prepare as best as I can for my hard times when the winds aren't blowing so hard.  Such preparation will keep me nourished and safe during the chaos.

And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
This scripture is particularly poignant to me.  The storm, the winds, the waves... they were all necessary to propel the people toward their destination; toward the promised land.  Such is with my trials.  The Lord has required that I take this journey in order to reach my destination, to be with Him, to return home.  He wants me there with Him more than anything - and that is the very reason He personally helps me prepare for each round of trials.

And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.
Even though the people had prepared as best they could, and the Lord personally touched stones to light their darkness, they still experienced moments where they were completely submerged by the waves.  There were still times, even though faithful, that they were terrified of their current circumstances.  Yes, fear and faith cannot coexist, but it is possible to be faithful in my action and in my work but not feel faithful at the time.  I chose to take this journey, I prepared for it, I got on the boat and sealed myself up in it, and yet, even in the face of all that faith I still experience fear. But, it is the very action of my faith that sustains me through those scary times; during the times I feel more scared than I do secure.

And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tightlike unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.
But in those moments, when they were completely submerged, seemingly lost forever in the abysmal darkness, they cried out to the Lord for help... and He answered.  Each and every time He brought them back to the surface.  Each and every time He answers my prayers.  He sends His Holy Spirit, He sends legions of Angels; even very personal ones.  He provides the Priesthood over the face of all the earth and He provides personal council from His very prophets that I can access at the turn of a page or a click of a button.  He has given all this to me, to you, to us; all these mechanisms that continually bring us to the surface.

And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.
This scripture is so beautiful to me.  My heart just warms every time I read it.  The Lord loved His people so much that He continually protected them from darkness and from danger.  Even though the winds were blowing they were kept 100% safe and they were also continually moving toward home, toward Father.

I know these scriptures to be true.  I know the Lord has carefully orchestrated my trials for my personal benefit.  He is refining me to be the best tool I can be for Him.  He does all this because He loves me.  And I love Him enough to let Him.

The Light of Christ

The Light of Christ

The Light of EƤrendil



"A light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out."

~Galadriel~



Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Grandfather Was With Me

I've been struggling since Thursday; triggering, a lot.  There have been two main contributors, well, three actually.
  1. I'm on my period.  Stupid hormones.
  2. A recent explosion of a pocket of emotions I didn't realize were buried.  It's good that they are coming to the surface so I can deal with them, but they are still painful, and they still cause me to want to numb.
  3. The adversary.  Jerk.
Last night my struggles reached an unbearable level.  So much so that I knew I just needed to get to bed safe.  I crashed down on my knees before bed and begged Heavenly Father to comfort me, bless me and help me stay safe.  I specifically asked Him to allow angels to attend me; even a specific angel.  My great great great grandfather to whom I feel especially close.

I prayed:
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me stay safe.  Please allow my great great great grandfather to be with me.  I need him.  I need to feel his presence.  Please allow him to touch me; not that I can feel his touch, but I really want him to be close to me; to touch me.  Please let him protect me as I sleep.
I stood, crawled into bed and snuggled under the covers. 

I immediately began to fall into a sweet and peaceful slumber when I was startled awake by intense waves of goosebumps rolling all over my body, from my head to my toes.

I laid there. 
Still.
Drinking the sensation.  

And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Heavenly Father had answered my prayer.

My grandfather was with me. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

To the Girl on the Street Who Smiled at Me

I love you
You made my day today
I was driving home after a long and exhausting day
When
I saw you walking on the street
How old are you? 13?
You looked young
You glanced up as I was driving by, made eye contact and smiled straight at me
At first I was surprised
Are you smiling at me?
Weird 
But then it hit me
... and I thought
You are smiling at me...
... and my heart began to glow and a smile broke across my face
You weren't afraid to give a piece of yourself to me...
...a random stranger.
Bless you
You are beautiful and special
Never allow your courage to dampen
Keep smiling
Shine them big
I prayed that you will remember this moment after we return to God
So you will know, and see, that your simple smile brought exquisite joy to my dark day

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So I Struggle With Umm...

I have this thing that I'd like to talk about.

I've been wanting to talk about it for a while but I've been stuck behind the 'how' of it, or more specifically, the 'how much do I tell' of it.

But, no more shall I remain stagnant in my fear.  I am bursting the walls and exposing my vulnerability to something I still feel levels of shame for.

Dude.

Here goes.

:::: flex ::::

So, I struggle with umm...

How you say?

Having feelings for authority figures?
Wanting older men to be proud of me?
Crushes?
Falling for Bishops?

So, ya.  There it is.

I used to be crazy ashamed of it.  Well, as you can see I still am on some level.  It's embarrassing.  I've talked about it plenty among my recovery circles and feel pretty comfortable there, but it's not something I've exposed to the world.

But really, I can't be the only one who struggles with this, right?  I feel like I can't be because I keep hearing whispers in my head telling me that I am the only one, and surely that must be the adversary.

JERK!

OK so I guess the level of shame I feel stems from who the authority figures actually are.  I've struggled with having feelings for male therapists, which, after learning about transference I came to find is pretty common, so I don't feel too bad about that.

But it's more so the feelings that I seem to develop for my Bishops that makes me feel the worst about myself.  I mean what kind of person develops feelings for their Bishop?  I must be horrible, right?  That's what I've been told for so long... things such as:

You are....
Awful
A total Jezebel
Dirty
Shameful
Unworthy
Alone
Sick
Defective

Terrible terrible shame has surrounded me for so long.

But what I have come to find is that the same transference mentioned above applies to Bishops as well.  I am vulnerable with them and they love me anyway which creates a sanctuary for feelings to grow.

Don't get me wrong.  I am in no way advocating such feelings.  I have done much in my power to combat the issue:

I've told my husband (who is a total rockstar by the way!).
I've told and continue to talk about it openly with my Stake President.
I work on all my transference issues with my therapist.
Heck, I even told my Bishop in hopes to kill the entire fantasy of it.
I've told my sponsor(s) and I've spoken about it openly with others in my recovery circles.
I recognize the cycle when it happens and strive to identify the underlying issues.
I reach out for help.

I also have come to recognize that these feelings are just part of my addictive cycle.  I don't have the option of picking and choosing what my temptations, triggers and trials are so I am left striving to do the best I can with the ones I have been given.

Shameful or not, it is what it is.

But the biggest thing I do is I admit.  I acknowledge the problem and I talk about it.  And now, I'm stretching my comfort zone boundary and am talking about it here.  I am opening up to allow more healing.  I must be vulnerable in order to let rich Celestial light wash over me and heal me.

So here I am.

(OK I'm going to go nurse my vulnerability hangover with some chocolate now)

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Patriarchal Blessing Funny


When I was 16 I made the trek from Glendive Montana to Billings to receive my Patriarchal blessing.  I went with a women from my ward that acted as my surrogate grandmother, Santa Hrubes (roo-bess) and her grandson, Scott, who was my age.  Scott and I had never met before, but we were the same age, both nerds, and we hit it off right away.  We became fast best friends.  

Getting my blessing was great, but mostly I was excited to meet Scott and nurture a friendship with my first "guy friend."  My focus was on friendly flirting and appearing cool to him instead of where it should have been; receiving very personal revelation from the Lord by way of my Patriarchal Blessing.

I dressed inappropriately; in a mini-skirt, and spent little to no time engaged in prayer and contemplation in order to prepare to hear the Lord.  Yet, I didn't recognize the absence of the Spirit or my own accountability in offending Him.  I was too absorbed in fulfilling my own wants and desires.

I can see now, that Satan had his hand in this.  Satan knew that the Lord had special things to tell me and of course, he did not want me to hear the Lord.  All Satan had to do was keep me distracted by a cute boy.  It worked too.  I was completely oblivious.

After receiving my Patriarchal blessing and arriving back home that night I began the long wait to receive it in the mail.  A month went by and then two months.  Scott had received his, yet I still had not received mine.

Santa called the Patriarch and received the most puzzling news.  The cassette tape that he'd recorded my blessing on, had broke.

"What?  What does that mean?" asked Santa
"It means she'll have to get another one." he responded

... odd.  

But I went with it.  I planned another trip and received another blessing.  I have no doubt that receiving two blessings was part of the Lords plan though, because I was much more prepared for the second blessing.  I prayed, dressed appropriately in modest church clothes and had a much more in-depth conversation with the Patriarch prior to the blessing; I was more honest about my hopes, dreams and fears.

My second blessing was nothing like the first, but it was still amazing.  Even better, I received it in the mail about a month later.  

It is packed full of Heavenly Father's love and direction, just for me.
I cherish it.  
I drink it.  
I believe it.

Here is the funny part though...

I only remember ONE thing from my first Patriarchal Blessing:

"I bless you to have a good memory"

Ironic?

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Angel in My Darkness

I want to share of a sweet miracle that occurred during a devastating tragedy in our life; a miracle that confirmed the Lord was truly mindful of the heartache I was going through at the time, even though I felt He was absent.

I must start with a word of caution.  This is the story of a miscarriage I suffered at 16 weeks pregnant.  I am telling this story in it's complete entirety.  I tried writing it and censoring some of the graphic parts, but it just didn't work; I felt it to be incomplete.  I desire to express everything, even the hard parts, in order to adequately pay homage to the miracle that occurred during this horrible trial. 

It was springtime, about 10:00 am and we were driving down State Street in Orem to drop Tim off at work. I was 16 weeks pregnant and just coming out of 3 months of horrible morning sickness.  My only goal with my wardrobe was comfort so I was dressed in ratty sweats and a T-shirt.  My son, two at the time, was also in the car with us, securely buckled in the backseat   I was driving, rather than Tim, to make it easier for him to jump out of the car and walk straight into work upon arrival.

All of a sudden my nose began to tickle and I felt a sneeze coming on.  After a couple of large huffy inhale's of air, I sneezed.

I immediately felt a rush of fluid.

Reflexively. I squeezed my pelvic muscles tight in hopes of squelching the rush.  I thought maybe I'd just lost my bladder.  It didn't work.  My next worry was that it was blood so I used my hand to touch the fluid, and upon inspection, found it to be clear.

Absolute horror washed over me.

I looked at Tim, panic written all over my face:
I need to go to the doctor's office now.
I was worried he wouldn't be able to go with me, that I'd have to drop him off at work first, but he responded:
Just go.  Go now.
We immediately detoured to my doctor's office.  When I got out of the car I looked at my pants.  They were soaked clear to my ankles.  Sadly, even in the face of terrifying probabilities, I was scared what others would think of me if they saw my pants.  I took my jacket and wrapped it around my waist best I could to cover the wetness and avoid judgmental prying eyes.

I walked quickly but steadily through the front doors of the physicians plaza.
I walked with purpose over to the elevator doors.
I waited patiently for the doors to open.
I fidgeted some during the ascent up to the 2nd floor.
I was relatively steady as I reached for the door to my doctor's office.

However, I felt the emotion reach my eyes once I opened the door to my doctor's office.  I made eye contact with the nurse behind the counter and recognition and worry spread across her face as she witnessed the sheer panic that reflected on my own face.  I approached the desk and through shaky tears I said:
I think my water broke
She was kind enough to take me to the back nurses station and explained that my doctor was in with another patient and would be out shortly.  I waited about 5 minutes.

The exam room door finally opened and my doctor exited.  He saw me and looked at the nurse with a puzzled expression.
She thinks her water broke
Dr. Stupid:
Oh no, she just peed her pants
I was shocked that he would say such a thing.  Here I was drenched to my ankles with fluid I couldn't stop by clamping off my bladder and he had the gall to accuse me, a grown woman, of "peeing her pants" in the face of my obviously devastated appearance.

I wanted to slap him.

He saw the look on my face and before I could physically react he quickly ushered me into an exam room.  He left me in the room to change into a gown and then reappeared a few minutes later with a special strip of paper to test for the presence of amniotic fluid.

Positive.

I just laid there on the table sobbing in front of my husband and my poor two year old son who had no idea what was happening, just that mommy was really sad.  I slowly got dressed and left with strict instruction to stay on bed-rest.

I spent the rest of that day and the next laying in bed or on the couch, only getting up to use the bathroom or to get something to eat.  There was very little change in how I felt.  Nothing seemed to change with my pregnancy.  I felt suspended in time.  Surreal slow motion.

The following evening I began discharging a green mucus that I thought might be the result of an infection.  I got scared.  Not sure exactly what to do we packed up and went down to Women's Services at the hospital.

Given I was only 16 weeks along though, there wasn't anything they could do for me; even if my baby was born, they wouldn't be able to sustain its life.

The nurses were so kind to me though; one in particular, named Sheryl. She called my doctor who happened to be in the building.  He came down to check on me.  He assured me that the discharge wasn't worrisome but he did want to get a better idea of what was going and so ordered a 3D ultrasound that would measure the level of my amniotic fluid.

Sadness overwhelmed me as I was told by the ultrasound technician that my amniotic fluid, on a 1-5 scale, measured at a 0.  Even more devastating was the fact that my baby's heart was still beating even in the face of sure death.

I was so mad at God.  Why?  Why would He keep my baby alive when death is inevitable?  Why wouldn't He just take it back?  Take it back to safety; where it is light, white and clean and not full of sorrow and heartache?

It seemed horribly cruel to make me wait for my baby to die inside of me.

I was an absolute mess.  I have never felt such acute, righteous, pain in my entire life, even to this day.

Sheryl, who had been at my side through the entire visit, could sense my heartache.  She helped me gather my things and, as I was leaving, told me she was on staff all night and to call her if I needed her, at any time, no matter what.

I fell straight asleep when I got home and awoke about 1:00 am to use the bathroom.  I sat down on the toilet and relaxed my muscles to release my bladder.  I didn't experience the usual release & flow, however.  Instead I felt my baby coming down my birth canal.

I froze.

I clenched my legs together and ran back to bed.  I laid there for probably another hour begging and pleading with the Lord:

Please God, don't take my baby
I love it, I don't know what it is yet, but I know I love it
Please, I'll be better
I'll do better
I'll love you better
Please... please.... please.....

Tim was asleep and I tried not to wake him with my tears as I lay there sobbing.  I felt hopeless, isolated and utterly alone.  Then the thought hit me:

Call Sheryl.

I picked up the phone and timidly called the number on the card I was given.  After a brief moment I heard Sheryl's voice on the line:
Uh oh, what's going on?
I told her what was happening and that I didn't know what to do.  I remember her listening to me; really listening.  She listened to my fear and my tears.  She heard me.  She was so kind to me.  I don't remember much of what was said, but she suggested I get a garbage bag to put in the toilet to catch my baby when I delivered.  It felt good to have some guidance and direction.  I hung up with more courage to face the inevitable.

Upon hanging up my attention was brought back to my poor bladder that was on the verge of bursting.  I reluctantly went back to the bathroom knowing I could no longer delay.  The time had come.  I had to deliver my baby.  Tim was awake and with me at this point.  I asked him to get the trash bag and position it in the toilet.

I sat down on the toilet and while holding on to Tim, who was standing in front of me, I relaxed my body to let my baby come out.  And then it was over.  My baby came out and delivered into the garbage bag.

Or so I thought.

I raised up off the toilet some in order to move the trash bag when to my horror I realized my baby was still hanging from me.  I dropped back down.  I immediately flushed hot and cold at the same time.  I felt dizzy.  I didn't understand what was happening.  The world was spinning in slow motion and I felt like I was in a dream.

What.... else.... could.... go.... wrong!?!?

I sat there for five minutes shaking myself trying to get my baby to drop, but it wouldn't.   I couldn't bring myself to touch it.

I was terrified and hysterical.

I asked Tim to call Sheryl again.

She explained that it sounded as if the umbilical cord didn't release from the placenta causing it to remain attached at both ends.   Sheer panic washed over me.

I can't do this.
This.... is.... too.... much.  

Sheryl was on top of it though, even over the phone.  She told Tim that she was scheduled to get off work at 7:00 am and would come over to my house and help us.

What?  She's going to come to our house?

I immediately felt a flood of relief.  I only  had to hold my bladder for another hour or so before she arrived.  I prayed so hard during that time that my baby would just drop. I don't think I've ever begged the Lord for anything as hard as I begged for that.  But granting that request was not part of His plan.

I sat there on that toilet with my baby hanging from me for over an hour, hoping and hoping I'd make it until Sheryl got to my house, but the time finally came when my bladder had had enough.  It had no hold left.  I had to pee.

NOW.

But I couldn't pee on my baby.  So I leaned into the terror and mustered up as much courage as I could.  I slowly unwrapped some toilet paper from the roll and covering my fingers with it, gently wrapped them around the umbilical cord and pulled.

It was done.

I quickly moved the garbage bag and released my bladder; a brief moment of sheer joy in the midst of heartache.  I'll take tender mercies in all forms.

Once finished I ran to the living room couch and just cried.  I cried and cried and cried till it seemed like I had nothing left.

And then I cried some more.

Just as my tears ran out, Sheryl arrived.  She bee-lined it across my disaster of a living room and gave me a giant hug.  Told me she was sorry for me and just loved me.

How does that happen?  Pure and perfect empathy from a perfect stranger.

I felt her light shine on me.
I felt instant comfort and peace.
I felt protected and cared for.
I felt nurtured and safe.

She quickly got to work caring for my baby who still lay on the bathroom floor in the garbage bag.  She gently took it out, and although I couldn't look at it, she told me that he was a boy.  She packaged him up in a Ziploc bag of water so we could later have the pathologist look at him in hopes of determining what went wrong.

Before leaving, Sheryl gave me another huge hug and showered me with more words of encouragement.

she.is.amazing.

She still works at the hospital I deliver at and with my two pregnancies following my miscarriage I was fortunate enough to have her as my nurse.

One regret I had during my last time with her is I never asked her why she was so compassionate toward me, or why she went out of her way to come to my house.  For some reason I was really scared. I was really scared that the experience didn't mean as much to her as it did to me and she would dismiss me.

But there came a point when I couldn't stand not knowing; not reaching, any longer.  I found her on Facebook and sent her a message asking her why she went so far above and beyond to help a perfect stranger, me.

This was her response:
Oh my dear friend. I am not sure exactly what to tell you except that my gift is to love people. I am not trying to state that in pride. I just find it so easy to love people and to think of you going home in such a difficult time with unknown circumstances was hard on my heart. when you called it seemed without thought the only thing to do to offer support for you. I remember how your heart was breaking and it seems that you were not sure about seeing the baby. I do not remember now for sure if you did. While I certainly do not understand all things, it is a sacred thing to give birth to an infant of any size.for you who had waited and wanted for a child, this was heart breaking. I just wanted to be there for you because I knew I could do that much for you. I do not have the gift of words, I do not know the best thing to say to give comfort but I can be there, and I can give hugs. I am so glad you are a mother so that you can experience all the joy that comes with that. Thank you for your kind words. Love from Sheryl 
What a beautiful spirit.  

I am so grateful the Lord sent her during one of the darkest periods of my life.  
He heard me
He heard every soul wrenching anguished cry that came from me
He knew my pain
...and
He sent me an angel
... an angel in my darkness.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Who is Jesus Christ?

I recently had a a hard trial of depression that you can read about here.  I received some very specific revelation to study the life of the Savior in order to again, feel the presence of the Savior near me  Seems too simple, right?  It did to me, but I chose to heed the prompting anyway.  And really, I was grateful for the simplicity of it, even though it seemed too simple.  I'm not sure I had energy or drive to do much more.  I feel that alone was proof the Lord was mindful of me.  He met me where I was.


The following day I searched on 'Jesus Christ' on LDS.org and was directed to the website JesusChrist.LDS.org.  What an amazing site that is!  It is packed full of pure testimony and witness of the Savior.

As I began reading I immediately felt the Spirit wash over me.  As tears streamed my face I felt the comfort of His loving arms that I'd missed for so long.  My prayer had been answered.  The Lord kept His promise and a miracle occurred.

I wanted to share some excerpts from some of the talks I read.  These are powerful testimonies from our leaders that bear solemn witness to the truth, divinity and purpose of our beloved Savior.

~~~~~~~~~~

Atonement of Jesus Christ

Boyd K. Packer

Before the Crucifixion and afterward, many men have willingly given their lives in selfless acts of heroism. But none faced what Christ endured. Upon Him was the burden of all human transgression, all human guilt. And hanging in the balance was the Atonement. Through His willing act, mercy and justice could be reconciled, eternal law sustained, and that mediation achieved without which mortal man could not be redeemed.

He by choice accepted the penalty in behalf of all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality, immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror—for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth. In so choosing He faced the awesome power of the evil one, who was not confined to flesh nor subject to mortal pain. That was Gethsemane!

How the Atonement was wrought we do not know. No mortal watched as evil turned away and hid in shame before the Light of that pure being. All wickedness could not quench that Light. When what was done was done, the ransom had been paid. Both death and hell forsook their claim on all who would repent. Men at last were free. Then every soul who ever lived could choose to touch that Light and be redeemed.


The Only True God, and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
Jeffrey R. Holland

I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life.



We Testify of Jesus Christ
Gordon B. Hinckley

We know not all that lies ahead of us. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the Polar Star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith.

In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us.

None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God.
~~~~~~~~~~

I want to add my own testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

  
I know He lives  
I know He atoned and suffered for each one of us
...so that 
We may be freed from Satan's flaxen cords  
I also know that if I was the only one in existence, the only one that needed to be atoned for
...that 
He would  
He would still suffer the pains of all existence
Just for me
He loves me that much  
He is my big brother  
He is my Light
He is my Grace
He is my Savior
and
I love Him... 
With.... my....whole....heart

Monday, May 6, 2013

Scapegoats and Comparisons

Scapegoats

I was never abused as a child, but for a long time, prior to recovery and even a little ways in,  I actually wished I had been abused. I wished I had been abused so that I could use it as an excuse for my addictive appetites.  I wanted to be able to hang my hat on it; so my actions didn't have to be my fault.  I so desperately needed to have a reason for the way I was.

However, as I worked the steps and began to get a better grasp of recovery and a firmer grip on my own value, something began to change. The Lord introduced me to a new way of thinking.  He instilled in me the desire to not only discover my own accountability for my addictive behavior but also the ability to accept and own it.  Such knowledge was a great gift from my Father to me because it unlocked me and freed me from a huge shackle that had kept me bound for many, many years.

Armed with my knew knowledge, I let go of the past that kept me bound and decided it no longer mattered.  

It didn't matter how I came to be where I was because it didn't change the fact that I was where I was.  I realized that sifting around in the past looking for a reason; for something to blame my addiction on, kept me stuck there; kept me locked in the past. 

So I stopped.  

I stopped seeking a scapegoat, that object of blame, that shift and deflection of accountability.  I surrendered to the fact that where I was just is, and that I would better serve myself by focusing my energy forward, on my Savior, who was waiting to heal me.

That is when my recovery really began.

When I let go of the past, turned and faced forward, and just started walking, leaving the past in the dust.

Comparisons

Another trap we are susceptible to falling into is comparing our journey to other's journeys.  Often we view such comparison as a way to keep us secure in what seems to be safety, but in reality it is a distorted view of isolation.

Often we recognize ourselves comparing when it comes to physical attributes or personality traits or social standing etc... but we can often do it in recovery too:

  • I'm not as 'addict' as they are
  • They are much younger/older than I am
  • I'm sure they don't struggle with what 'I' struggle with
  • They are happy, I'll never fit in here

...the lies are endless.

It's important that we understand that these statements truly are lies of the adversary   He whispers them to us to keep us away from recovery; to keep us feeling distant, and separate, and isolated from the healing touch of the Light of Christ.

So emphasizing the fact that I wasn't abused or didn't have major trauma "like other women" was a form of comparison and left me feeling alone, lost and even left out.

The very fact that all types of women (from all walks of life) are struggling with sexual addiction, with or without trauma, is huge evidence that Satan is at the root of this problem.  

Shame and isolation are the devil's playground. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Thank you Mormon Mommy Blogs!

  ... I have no doubt that your willingness to help me spread hope will touch many

Click here to read my spotlight

Dear Bishop: Internet Protection is Vital

Dear Bishop,

As I made my way to your office this last time, I was scared. I was not as scared as I had been previous times, but nervous nonetheless. This visit was different than the other confessional-visits because during this visit, I was going to be asking for some much needed support. Support that included more of your time and more of my commitment.

You greeted me kindly and encouraged me to make it through my large list of ‘things’ I had written down to speak to you about. Although you said we only had ten minutes, you never made me feel rushed, and you assured me that I was the most important thing on your schedule at that moment. You allowed for more time than we were allotted, and I was very grateful, although I could have gone on much longer.

During this visit, I came to ask for your support with my newly discovered sexual addiction. Although you were kind and uncondemning, I wish you had been the one calling me in to meet with you instead of the other way around. You knew of my struggle with pornography and masturbation from previous visits, and were also aware that this problem had been going on for more than ½ my life, a total of 16 years . I wished that you had been the one to refer me to the addiction recovery program meetings I am now attending and had referred me to other recovery supports that are all around me. I had to seek those all out by myself, and I wish I hadn't had to seek them out on my own – because I might have found them sooner if you had referred me. The beginning steps of recovery have been very difficult and I really need a lot of support from you. Regardless, I feel very blessed for the supports I have discovered as well as for your time.

Bishop, I feel very blessed that we now have a regular time to meet up each week. I look forward to your spiritual guidance and counsel. I look forward to feeling the spirit and remaining accountable to you. I just wish I hadn’t felt like I had to beg in order to get the appointment set up. I hope the 15 minutes we have each week will be put to good use!

During our meeting, I had one thing on my list that I was nervous, yet determined to bring up. I wanted you to act as the administrator over my phone and computer Internet protection. My hands were shaking as I explained my desire. It’s so scary to discuss things that leave me vulnerable, especially when admitting that I need more help than I thought. I have just been working Step 1 in my own recovery, which is admitting that I am powerless. I was there reaching for your help.

I was shocked when you refused.

I made sure you understood what my request was, and explained how I had been my own administrator in the past, which had obviously not worked. You continued with the mantra's “You can do it” and "just stop," and while the sentiment was nice, the reality of it is not. I can do it, yes, but I can't do it alone. I came to you for help because I needed your help in this area. I felt shut down and scared for my own spiritual safety.

Luckily, I am otherwise supported in many areas in my recovery. I am so blessed with sisters all over the place, in my area and outside my area, who care deeply about my recovery from addiction. They have been there and understand how hard it is. They understand that it is not enough to say "I will call you when I am feeling tempted or am about to view." They understand that once I have crossed into that threshold that I have already lost my will to choose. My brain has been hijacked. Internet protection is vital and I needed your help. I am saddened that you are unwilling to do this for me. Fortunately I have a friend who is also a sister in recovery, and is willing to help me out with my Internet protection. I feel so blessed for this kind of support, but wish it had come from you. I wished it had come from you, because I asked you for help and because I feel more accountable to you; you who represent my Savior.

Bishop, although I do love you and think you are a wonderful person, I believe you have a long way to go in your learning about addiction and recovery. Especially when it comes to LDS women seeking this out, and especially when it is sexual in nature. I hope that in the future you will refer those struggling with addiction to the Addiction Recovery Program and seek to counsel with them often and for however long they need. I hope that you will help them reach out to all of the supports and resources that are available to them. 

Respectfully,

A Beautiful Daughter of God

Am I Ready for Step 4?

The main them of step 3 is approaching the threshold in which we jump off and trust the Lord.  We also surrender to Him and trust that future work with the Steps, even though scary, is for our own good.  It's that simple.

Faith is stepping into the darkness and trusting that the light will follow.

So ask yourself two questions:
  1. Am I willing to nurture seeds of trust within myself?
  2. Am I willing to step into the unknown and trust that the light will follow?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions then move on.  Don't give the adversary time to whisper in your ear such lies as:
  • You didn't do it well enough
  • You will never trust the Lord enough
  • God will not love you
Satan would have us believe these whispering's...  but truly, there is no 'perfect' way to do the steps. You learn what you can, commit to being better and move on.  

Simple.

You also might take time to consider (if you don't have one already) finding a support person that you will need to share your Step 5 with.

This link can help you with that process.

Am I Ready for Step 6?


The main theme of step 5 is to hand all your guilt and shame over to the Savior and trust that He will take it.  You are in essence clearing up all the symptoms of your addiction.  In Step's 6 and 7 you are given the opportunity to identify the root causes of your addiction,  your character weaknesses.  You first clear the shame in step's 4 and 5 because shame blinds your ability to focus on your character weaknesses long enough to acknowledge them and work to change them.

So ask yourself two questions:
  1. Am I willing to take a long hard look at myself and identify the root causes of my addictive behavior?
  2. Am I willing to accept that through this process I will actually identify multiple character strengths and gifts the Lord has given me?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions then move on.  Don't give the adversary time to whisper in your ear such lies as:
  • Your character weaknesses define you, you are horrible
  • You can't handle facing your weaknesses, it's too scary
Satan would have us believe these whispering's...  but truly, there is no 'perfect' way to do the steps. You learn what you can, commit to being better and move on.  

Simple.

Amy I Ready For Step 5?

The main theme of step 4 is to get all of your negative feelings, regrets and shames out of your soul and onto paper.  This is the first step to truly giving it all over to God.  The next step, step 5, is giving it to God.  It is a scary process but an important one.

When sharing your inventory with your Bishop and a trusted support person, you open yourself up to the healing Light of Christ.  You will find that for the first time, you will truly be loved for who you truly are, flaws and all.

It is important to share your inventory with your trusted support person as soon as possible after completing this step.  It is recommended that you make an appointment to share your step 5 now, and work on the step 5 assignments in the meantime.

Remember, faith is stepping into the darkness and trusting that the light will follow.  The Light WILL follow.  Huge miracles are awaiting on the other side of this giant leap of faith.

So ask yourself two questions:
  1. Am I willing to step into the scary unknown and give my shame over to God?
  2. Am I willing to be completely honest, leaving no stone unturned, in order to allow the Lord to heal me?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions then move on.  Don't give the adversary time to whisper in your ear such lies as:
  • Your sponsor is going to think less of you
  • This process won't work, your shame will remain, because you are innately shameful
Satan would have us believe these whispering's...  but truly, there is no 'perfect' way to do the steps. You learn what you can, commit to being better and move on.  

Simple.

LDS Family Services - Support in Recovery (Sponsorship)

SUPPORT IN RECOVERY
LDS Family Services
(no copyright)

Support in recovery from addiction is vital.  President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized the value of support through having "a friend in the Church to whom you can constantly turn, who will walk beside you, who will answer your question, who will understand your problems" (Ensign, Oct. 2006, 4).  In addition he said: "I want to say to you, look for your friends among members of the Church.  Band together and strengthen one another.  And when the time of temptation comes, you will have someone to lean on, someone to bless you and give you strength when you need it.  That is what this Church is for, so that we can help one another in our times of weakness and to stand on our feet, tall and straight and true and good." (Eugene Oregon Regional Conference, September 15, 1996).

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) wrote: "We can to go others for help.  To whom can we go?  Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked and answered this question: 'To whom do we look, in days of grief and disaster, for help and consolation?. . . They are men and women who have suffered, and out of their experience in suffering they bring forth the riches of their sympathy and condolences as a blessing to those now in need.  Could they do this had they not suffered themselves?'" (Ensign, Deb. 2006, 3).

Living in recovery requires absolute honesty.  However, denial, self deception, and isolation are hallmarks of addictive behavior.  These traits make it difficult to achieve lasting and stable progress in recovery without the support and perspective of others.  It is important for an addict to enlist the help of appropriate and effective support people as soon as possible.  "By being humble and honest and calling upon God and others for help, you can overcome your addictions through the Atonement of Jesus Christ" (A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, vi: hereafter referred to as Guide).

Valuable Sources of Support for Addicts and Family Members

Heavenly Father, the Savior, and the Holy Ghost are our greatest sources of support.  Recovery and healing are made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  In addition the Lord often works through men and women to bless the lives of His children.  All who participate in the addiction recovery program find that they are following the Lord's counsel to "be faithful . . . succor the week, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees" (D&C 81:5).

As addicts work to apply the 12 steps of recovery, seeking necessary support from others, they benefit from the sources listed below.

  1. Recovery meetings provide support in a group setting.  Participants include LDS Family Service missionaries, facilitators experienced in recovery, and others who are practicing recovery principles.  In these meetings, newcomers hear participants describe how they apply recovery principles and practices in daily living.  The sharing of personal recovery experiences encourages action toward recovery and fosters hope that recovery is obtainable.  Every person attending recovery support group meetings is tangible evidence that this process leads to freedom from the bondage of addiction and to a happier way of life.
  2. A support person, experienced in 12-step recovery, is especially qualified to help because of their own emergence from denial and self-deception.  This emergence enables them to recognize the dishonesty that traps others affected by addiction.  A support person helps those in recovery put their "lives into perspective and avoid exaggerating or minimizing [their] accountability" (Guide, 29).  Both the giver and receiver of support are blessed with growth in their own recovery.  This reciprocal opportunity to give and receive support is one of the core benefits of participating in the Addiction Recovery Program and is powerful in preventing relapse.
  3. Ecclesiastical support in the process of recovery is essential. "[We] should not be reluctant to encourage [the addict] to turn to the Lord's authorized servants" (Guide, 71).  Never forget or underestimate the power of ecclesiastical stewardship.  "While only the Lord can forgive sings, these priesthood leaders (Bishops and Stake and Mission Presidents) play a critical role in the process of [healing and] repentance" (True to the Faith, 134).
  4. Family members can most effectively be a source of support by offering love and acceptance, and by applying the same 12 steps to their own lives.  "Virtually everyone living in these perilous times [will] benefit by learning and applying gospel principles" as outlined in the Guide (Guide, 71).  On a cautionary note, disclosures of personal inventoried are not to be shared with immediate family members or anybody who might be adversely affected by hearing it.
  5. Professional counselors are often sources of insight and perspective when dealing with addiction.  When selecting professional help, it is important to select someone who is supportive of gospel principles as well as 12-step recovery.
Participants will have different starting points when seeking support in recovery from addiction.  Regardless of the way they start, as they attend recovery support meetings, participants are blessed to be in an environment where the seed of recovery can be planted in their hearts.

Choosing a Support Person

The LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program, like all other 12-step recovery programs, does not assign people to give support.  Asking for support is a personal decision.  Initially the newcomer participated in recovery meetings, and prayerfully seeks to identify someone he or she things would be an effective support person.  Once a person is identified, the newcomer approached them and asks for support in working through the steps.  The process may need to be repeated before the right match is found.  Encourage the newcomer to continue these efforts until an appropriate support person agrees to provide support.

The Guide cautions: "Use great care and wisdom when selecting someone other than a priesthood leader.  Do not share . . . sensitive information with individuals you suspect might extend improper guidance, provide misinformation, or have difficulty maintaining confidences.  [A support person] must be extremely trustworthy in both word and deed" (Guide, 30).  Ideally, an effective support person is someone who has personal practical experience in doing each of the steps and is fully active in the Church.  Specifically, it is essential that this person has actually written a fourth-step inventory, read that inventory to another person in the fifth step, and made or is making ninth-step restitution  These are essential demonstrations of a personal commitment to stable, long-term recovery.  "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins-behold, he will confess them and forsake them (D&C 58:43).

A support person who has emerged from addiction can have empathy for the emotional pathway the newcomer is traveling.  They "have a message of hope for other addicts . . . who are willing to consider a spiritual approach to changing their lives... [They] will share this message best through [their] efforts to serve others" (Guide, 71).  The newcomer senses the empathy and recognized the experience of the support person and becomes willing to follow the support person's example by using the tools of recovery.  In turn, the use of these tools invites the healing power of the Atonement into the newcomer's life.

Many recovery issues are gender-specific.  As addicts begin recovery, they are usually physically, emotionally, and spiritually vulnerable.  In order to avoid developing an inappropriate relationship, the addict must choose a support person of the same gender.

Qualities of Effective Support
  1. Active participation in personal recovery is the most fundamental aspect of providing effective support.  Your suggestions and support are only as credible as your personal study, writing, and application of each step.  "In your enthusiasm to help others, be sure to keep a balance between sharing the message and working on your own program" (Guide, 72).  Daily use of the tools of the program sets an example that is far more important than any counsel you will ever share with the newcomer.  Your support must be consistent with this program of recovery.
  2. Humility is a key characteristic of an effective support person.  "There is no place in your new life for ego or any sense of superiority.  Never forget where you have come from and how you have been rescued by the grace of God" (Guide, 72).  "As you serve others, you will maintain humility by focusing on the gospel principles and practices you have learned" (Guide, 71).
  3. Respecting the agency of others is a basic element of effective support.  "Don't give advice or try to fix them in any way.  Simply inform them of the program and the spiritual principles that have blessed your life" (Guide, 71).  Offering suggestions about principles and practices that may be helpful demonstrates respect for a person's sacred agency.
  4. Respecting yourself and personal commitments fosters stability in your recovery and promotes effective support for others.  Your agreement to act as a support person does not entitle the newcomer unlimited access to your time and resources.  Honoring commitments to one's family, the Church, professional endeavors, personal time, etc., sets an example of the importance of healthy boundaries.
  5. Selfless service requires giving without expecting anything in return from those you support.  Avoid falling prey to seeking praise, admiration, loyalty, or other emotional rewards from those you serve.  "Be sure to give freely, not expecting a particular result" (Guide, 71).
  6. Patience is a requirement when supporting others.  Newcomers may repeat unhealthy behaviors and be slow to adopt the principles and practices of recovery.  Perhaps the addict is not yet ready to move forward.  "Most of us had to 'hit bottom' before we were ready to study and apply these principles" (Guide, 71).  Remember that the journey of recovery is unique for every individual, including the support person and the newcomer.
  7. Gentle, yet firm encouragement is consistent with the Lord's pattern.  Effective support comes "by permission, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned  by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guild" (D&C 121: 41-42).
  8. Placing God before yourself must be constantly in your mind as you offer support.  "When you do something for someone else or share the message of hope and recovery, you must not allow another person to become too dependent on you.  Your responsibility is to encourage others who struggle to turn to Heavenly Father an the Savior for guidance and power." (Guide, 71).  Your role to share your experience, faith, and hope by assisting the newcomer through the same 12-step process that helped you access God's grace.
  9. Prayer is essential as you give support.  Each time you offer support, ask the Lord which principles of practice's of the 12-step program will be most helpful for the current needs.  "Be prayerful as you consider ways to serve, seeking always to be led by the Holy Ghost,  If you are willing, you will find many opportunities to share the spiritual; principles you have learned" (Guide, 71).
  10. Testifying of truth as you have experienced it in recovery, is one of the most powerful support tools available.  "Tell some of your story to let them know that you can relate" (Guide, 71).  Bear testimony of our Savior and of his healing power. "[Your] message is that God is a God of miracles, just as He has always been (see Moroni 7:29).  Your life proves that.  You are becoming a new person through the Atonement of Jesus Christ . . . Sharing your testimony of His mercy and His grace is one of the most important services you can offer" (Guide, 71).
  11. The ability to keep confidences and protect the privacy of others is an essential principle of effective support.  Anonymity and confidentiality are core principles in the addiction recovery program that cannot be sacrificed.
Note from Sidreis: I have extensive experience as both a sponsee and a sponsor.  If you have any questions regarding the above outlined principle, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Insanity of Whack-a-Mole

Early in recovery I had a vision come to mind...  

The Lord speaks to me in visions.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm no Lehi.  I just mean that the Lord shows me pictures in my head and often presents a concept by way of analogy.  I absolutely love the analogies the Lord shows me because they instantly make sense; I instantly 'get it.'

Back to the vision:

I remember feeling like I was spread too thin.  I was busy trying to manage the multiple addictions that I struggle with: sexual, food, facebook, certain people... you name it.  As I sat there, anxiety ridden, and feeling completely hopeless, a picture entered my head.

I pictured myself in a dark, abandoned arcade.  In the middle of the arcade stood a single illuminated Whack-a-Mole machine.  The Lord told me that each 'mole' represented a different addictive behavior that I struggled with.   

I observed myself hovering over the machine, sweat dripping off my forehead, eyes wide and frantic as I focused on one mole (addiction) at a time.  I found that once I hit one mole (tempered one addiction), another would always pop up.  I didn't have enough arms to push all the moles down at once so as I was focusing on one, another would continually pop up.  It was a perpetual cycle of insanity.  

It was hopeless.  There was no end and I didn't know how to stop.  



I looked to the Lord for help.  He smiled and walked toward me, then past me, and then behind the machine.  What he did next completely surprised me....

He unplugged it.

In that very moment I realized I not only didn't have to deal with the insanity of trying to manage my multiple addictions one at a time alone, but I didn't have to do it AT ALL.

I realized when I focus on the Savior and ask Him for help that He leads and guides me; He in essence shuts off my insanity and leads me away from the perpetual cycle of whack-a-moling myself to death.  As I focus on Him I become more like Him and the closer I grow to Him the more free I become from the chains that have kept me bound for so long.

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"