Since starting my blog, and networking with other people and organizations, I have been graced with many opportunities to share my story. Some of these opportunities have been under the LDS umbrella, others have not.
I want to tell of an experience I recently had with one of those "not's."
It was a non-profit organization filming a documentary on the harmful effects of pornography. Their mission is huge; to spread awareness on a worldwide level by presenting the documentary to diplomats representing the United Nations.
I, of course, jumped at the opportunity. I mean, come on, it's the United Nations.
I felt relatively comfortable in front of the camera while sitting on the beautiful couch in the posh Tuscan house up on the hill. The owners had graciously agreed to lend us their home for the evening.
I began telling my story as I usually do; how my addiction didn't start because of inadvertent exposure or abuse, but rather, out of unbridled curiosity. I moved through all that I experienced in my childhood, adolescent years, teen years and young adult years.
The tone of the interview was good... at first.
I knew that the documentary being filmed was not intended for a religious audience. I knew the purpose of the film was to show those from other nations that not all Americans advocate for pornography; that we also feel it is harmful, to ourselves and anyone touched by its ripple effect.
I was completely comfortable with contributing to their angle of approach, at least, until I began to eliminate my Heavenly Father, Savior, the Atonement and the sweet Holy Ghost out of my story in an attempt to mold my experience to what they were looking for.
At one point the interviewer asked me what my turning point was in my recovery; that moment in which I became aware that what I was doing was damaging me.
I thought a moment and landed on the truth; that without my upbringing in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, I never would have known that my behavior was damaging.
I was that addicted.
All I cared about was getting my next fix. If I hadn't had an internal moral compass instilled in me at such an early age, there would have been nothing, absolutely nothing, that would have stopped my behavior; except maybe eventual death.
The interviewer did not seem satisfied with my answer and pushed for more of a 'non-religious' response that she could present to the United Nations diplomats; many of which are most likely not religious, or at least not Christian.
Conflict consumed me. I searched my memory for just one recollection of clarity in which I realized what I was doing was hurting me, but I had nothing to give her.
And so went the rest of the interview . . .
I stretched and stretched to tell my story without mentioning God, or the Light of Christ, or my Bishop, or the Spirit. I felt hollow, but I wasn't sure why. I was stuck in 'desperate-to-please' land and couldn't seem to escape it. I wanted the interviewer to be proud of me; to approve of me.
The uneasiness grew as I drove home in the still silence of the crisp night. I felt like I had tried to tell a story of how I endured and overcame cancer without talking about all my doctor visits and chemo treatments.
Again, I landed on truth; it's just not possible.
I awoke at 3AM the following morning and couldn't get back to sleep. Hungry, I went downstairs to grab a bite to eat.
The full force of my actions hit me as I stood waiting for my soup to heat up. I began shaking as racking sobs overtook my body.
I felt like I had denied my Savior. Not out-rightly, obviously, but I felt like I hid Him; like I said to Him 'here, hide behind this curtain for a time, I need to talk about my recovery and no one can know You were involved in it.'
I felt sick.
How could I even fathom talking about my recovery without talking about my Savior? If it weren't for Him, there would be no recovery; no story.
I felt like I maybe touched a bit of what Peter felt like when he denied Christ. We don't hear that part of his story; how devastated he must have felt after he realized the gravity of what he'd done. The pain he felt must have been absolutely staggering.
I poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father . . .
I am so so very sorry. How could I ever take the Savior out of my recovery? It's not even possible. I owe Him absolutely everything. He has carried me, and comforted me, and held me, and cleansed me, and lifted me, and healed me, and changed me. He has never left my side. How could I be so quick to tell the story as if He were never there?
Even though this experience is painful, I am grateful for it. I am grateful that you are letting me experience what it feels like to take my Savior out of the equation; hollow, alone, afraid. I have been there before; for far too long and I never want to return there.
I promise, Heavenly Father, I will never deny Him again. I will never again speak of my recovery without speaking of my Savior. I will preface every interview with that information, and if they aren't satisfied with those terms, then there will be no interview.
I have learned, Heavenly Father. It has proved to be a painful lesson, but I have learned.I am feeling better now, although I still tear up when I think about what I did. I have not touched shame, nor am I ashamed, but I still hurt inside for hurting my Savior. The pain will subside with time, I'm sure even more so as I continue to openly declare my gratitude for His saving Grace.
I find comfort in the fact that even after Peter's denials, the Lord forgave him and returning to him, asked:
Lovest thou me more than these?The Lord, likewise, beckons to me:
Sidreis, lovest thou me more then these? These people, your desire to please them, and your need for approval. Tell me, do you love me more than these?Yes, Lord, I love thee more than all of these. Forever.