War Stories

"War stories" is a term we commonly relate to the stories of war veterans detailing the impossible odds they have endured and overcome.  These stories can leave us feeling an array of emotions: angry, sad, passionate and can also instill in us the most significant pride for our country or cause.

"War Stories" is also common term used in recovery circles but it doesn't hold the same meaning as it does for war veterans. 

As addicts it is common for us to tell war stories about our addictions: "Oh you think that is bad?  Let me tell you what I did!"  These stories may seem harmless in the moment but in reality these stories focus on and even glorify our addictions.  They make our addictions seem exciting and can trigger the desire to continue acting out.  War stories are detrimental and damaging to recovery.

It is important in recovery to continually face forward, toward God.  A quote that I love sums this idea up perfectly:
It is better to be ten feet from hell and facing heaven than to be ten feet from heaven and facing hell.
We are taught constantly that it doesn't matter where we are on the path, but what is more important is the direction we are facing on the path.  I know for me at times as I hold tight to the iron rod, the winds will relentlessly blow, there will be dust swirling around me and storms threatening to destroy me.  Through these trials it often seems all I can do is barely muster the strength to just hold on and not get blown off course.  When this happens, and it seems as though through the trial I made little or no progression I am sometimes left feeling that I have failed.  I have to remind myself that this is not true.  If we are measuring our progression by how far and how fast we are moving we will be sorely disappointed.  It is important to find value in the simple accomplishment of just holding on and not being blown off the path.  Holding on is a form of facing forward; holding on is recovery at work. 

Talking about war stories is detrimental to recovery because it is telling ourselves that it is OK to think about the past and all the bad we have done.  It is glorifying the sin by calling it exciting and eliciting laughter and shock in others as we recount that story.  How can we walk forward when our heads are rubber necking at our past?

Elaine S. Dalton, General Young Women's President, teaches:
As you climb the mountains of life, stay on the path of virtue. There will be others to help you, your parents, family members, bishops, advisers, and righteous friends of all ages. And if you are weary or take a wrong turn, change your direction and get back on the path of virtue. Always remember that the Savior is there for you. He will enable you to repent, strengthen you, lighten your burdens, dry your tears, comfort you, and continue to help you stay on the path.
The further we get away from our indiscretions of the past, through proper repentance and working Steps 4 and 5 of the 12 Steps, the more they will fade from our memory.  I know for me, I rarely remember, let alone entertain, thoughts of all the heartache in my past.  Really, the only time it ever comes up is when the Spirit brings a memory to the surface in order to help someone else.  And even then, I am careful what I share, and how I share it. 
Richard G. Scott speaks of focusing on virtues rather than vices:
Order your life more effectively and eliminate trivia, meaningless detail, and activity. They waste the perishable, fixed, and limited resource of time. Choose to emphasize those matters that have an eternal consequence.
I have a testimony that if we don't waste our time on war stories and smearing ourselves all over again with our muddy pasts that we will truly be blessed.  It is important to use what precious time we have now to create new and worthy memories and experiences that will benefit us and our posterity throughout all eternity.



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