Thursday, June 20, 2013

Faith and Diligence

First off, I need to apologize for taking so long to write this post after the last one. Life has been incredibly hectic for me the last few weeks. I'm glad that Haydee was able to write during that time so there has been a presence here.

I have been thinking about a post that details the things I was able to do to remain engaged with my wife's family rather than withdrawing as I talked about in my previous post. I was struggling with how to approach the topic. Then, as I was doing my scripture study this morning I came across what I was looking for.

As part of his teachings to his son, Helaman, Alma talks about the experiences of Lehi's family with the Liahona:
And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. (Alma 37:40)
There are a couple of key things here that are important. First, faith. This is not a generic "faith in Christ" kind of faith. While that type of faith is a necessary beginning, the faith Alma is talking about is the specific belief that "God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go." Lehi and his family had to have faith that the specific miracle they were looking for was possible.

The next key is that "they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God." By exercising this specific faith that the Liahona could point them in the direction they should travel in the wilderness, they received that miracle, but they also received other miracles based on their faith in that one specific thing.

The final key is that this was done "day by day." Lehi and his family had to look at the Liahona every day. They could not take a day off. They could not think to themselves, "we know what direction we are going; we don't need to look today." When they took this attitude, things did not work out for them:
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. (Alma 37:41-42)
So, how does this relate to my ability to be engaged with my wife's family? It's really simple. In learning about my addiction and recovery from addiction, I have been given a few simple things to do each day; my dailies. I do these things each day with faith that they will allow me access to the power of God to be able to overcome any temptations I may face that day.

There are three things I do every morning to help me in my recovery. I study the scriptures. I don't just read any more. I begin my study with a prayer asking for help to learn what the Lord would have me learn that day. I then read with a full purpose trying to understand every detail of what I read until I find what I feel the Lord has for me to learn that day. I do not read a certain number of verses or chapters or for a certain amount of time; I read until the Holy Ghost speaks to my heart and I learn something. I then record what I have learned in my study journal so I can go back and remember what I have learned.

The second thing I do is meditate. I'm not talking about sitting in the lotus position and chanting "ohmmmm". The meditation I do is much more focused. It is designed to help me be aware of my thoughts and lead them in the direction I want them to go. I will write a post describing this type of meditation later.

The third thing I do each day is to make a daily plan. This is a plan of small measurable goals that focus on different areas to help me be healthy. I make goals relating to my physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual health. They are simple things that I need to do during the day to stay healthy. For example I might set a goal in the physical area to eat my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables that day. A goal in the emotional category could be something like having a conversation with one of my children. A spiritual goal would be something like listen to a General Conference talk. In the beginning, my goal in the sexual area was just to not act out that day, but now, I have come to the point where I focus on my thoughts more than my actions. If my thoughts are clean, my actions will follow.

The best part about these is that the miracles that come each day are not limited to my ability to remain sober. I am blessed with other miracles also. I am blessed with the ability to engage others even in crowded settings and not withdraw. I am also blessed with an ability to focus on my work and do more in a day than I have ever been able to before.

None of these things are difficult to do. They are small actions on my part. The key is that I do them each day with faith that I will be blessed to be able to progress on my journey in the most direct course that day. I have to remember why I do these things each day. If come to the point where I think I can do things on my own and I don't need these tools any more, the miracles I have been seeing will cease and I will not progress on my journey.

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