Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Love Him More than These


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.

13 comments:

  1. Beautiful. However, I think you did still did a very good thing by advocating. If it's good it's of God.

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  2. Sid, I love you! And so does Heavenly Father.

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  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing this experience and what you learned.

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  4. I believe your Savior knew the situation you found yourself in. He knew the internal struggle you were battling as the interviewer put you in a conflicting situation. I believe he heard your heart. He knew the words you wanted to express and the audience you desired to have hear them. He knew the sacred things that you keep close to your heart and maybe -- just maybe -- in this situation the audience wasn't worthy of this part of your story.

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  5. Great post! So happy I found it

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  6. Wow, what a profound experience. Thanks for sharing that. I just came across your blog, so I am not sure where you are in your recovery, but from the sounds of this post it seems like you are doing well.
    I hope it is OK if I mention my blog on overcoming pornography addiction. I find there is common ground among all addictions. I also find there is a component to addiction that is largely overlooked. Take a minute and look at the post on my blog "Why you can't stop once you start" and read about this missing element. I find once people understand this truth, overcoming addiction becomes much easier. Be prepared to think outside the box! It is my greatest desire to help as many people as possible to be completely free from addiction.
    God bless you!
    Arden
    http://wholesomelives.wordpress.com

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  7. I love that you shared this painful, and humbling experience. Thank you. Standing in the spotlight of recovery, I want to stand in my integrity, but can see where I may be tempted to leave that integrity for the praise of man. So thought provoking.

    I, like you, attribute the Lord and His Almighty Hand in my recovery. Thank you for learning and sharing this experience. It has served as an example to me. I have reflected and made a decision to stand with my back straight and shoulders squared as I confidently profess the Lord in the process. Thank you so much for being such a PoWeRfUL example of righteousness.

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    1. Thanks Margareta - I appreciate that... and I'm glad it was helpful in solidifying your own faith to stand tall. That makes my experience all well worth it!

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  8. this is good! I like this. I have had moments like these. Not to this extent, of course.

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  9. I felt this way when being interviewed for an appearance on Anderson Cooper. I struggled to explain to the producer how my marriage could be healing and how I could be healthy and forgiving without involving 'mormon speak' and talk of the Atonement and such. Thus it turned into a 3 hr conversation because I felt like I first had to explain the church position on something and my feelings about it and yada yada yada. In the end, they wanted to go a different direction with the show than what we had to offer, and I believe my inability to talk without a bunch of churchy talk was part of the problem. She told me that we were doing a bit too well for what they were looking for. Still, I think you bring up an important issue through this experience and one that I find is the frequent one at the heart of my attempts to convince some in my circle that pornography is bad.... If you take religion out of it, then how DO you have a low point? Why is it bad? You know those questions and you're already involved in the promotion of the answers from a scientific standpoint. I think that is what is going to be more widely advocated. I feel a little weird typing that though. I mean, you CAN'T take Him out of it....BUT for those who do not understand, who do not have the background, who are so hard of hearts- I believe that is approach that will lead to a softening of their hearts so that maybe the Lord can get His foot in the door per se.

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    1. Right? I totally get that now - thus the reason I'll always state a disclaimer first... thanks for sharing this!

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  10. I love you, friend. I love your heart and your spirit and your testimony and faith and desire to give glory to our Father, the Savior an the "sweet Holy Ghost." [loved that!]

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

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