Friday, July 26, 2013

Trial of My Faith

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)
 I have always misunderstood the concept of a trial of my faith. I always thought of a trial of my faith as some great event that I would need to struggle through and rely on the Lord, and eventually He would help me through it. For a long time, I thought my addiction was that trial of my faith. I didn't understand that it was an addiction. I believed I didn't have enough faith because the Lord did not help me overcome my temptations.

Now, I realize that the Lord does help me overcome my temptations, but not in the way I expected. I always expected that these things would no longer be a temptation for me. Instead, the Lord helps me to overcome them by not giving in. I still have the temptations, but I don't act on them.

In my previous post, I talked about being able to walk away from temptation. I am able to do this right now with help from the Lord. I prepare myself each day to receive His help by doing my morning routine of scripture study, meditation, and daily planning.

The question is, "What does this have to do with faith?". I have come to realize that the trial of my faith is not to wait for the Lord to take my temptations away from me. The trial of my faith is to consistently do the little things each day that allow me to call upon Him for strength when I need it.

This has been a huge paradigm shift for me to realize that a trial of my faith is not about making it through some huge experience. Rather, the trial of my faith is to get up 45 minutes earlier each day so I can do the things I have been asked to do in order to be able to walk on the road of recovery.

The witness I receive after the daily trial of my faith is to be able to make it through one more day in active recovery. This cycle of trying my faith each day and receiving a witness of its power each day has grown into an even greater witness to me. I can now see the hand of the Lord in my life each day. With that comes and even greater faith and desire to do the things He has asked of me because I now know that He will help me to be able to do them.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Walking Away from Temptaion

I have struggled for a long time with how to deal with temptations (or triggers, or whatever you want to call them). All my life I have heard terms like "resist temptation" or "flee from evil". I always took this to mean I needed to fight against my temptations. I would try to ignore the temptation. I would sing a hymn. I would read my scriptures. I would do all of these things to fight against the temptation, but I always lost. Fighting the addiction would always lead to me eventually giving in. This would leave me with feelings of worthlessness because I was not strong enough to overcome.

I would read scriptures like 1 Cor 10:13 and think "maybe this doesn't apply to me, maybe it is just for the normal people". Like most addicts, I thought I was different. I thought I was so vile that I was beyond the reach of the Atonement.

I was completely wrong. I am NOT beyond the reach of the Atonement. I am a son of God. Jesus Christ is MY Savior and Redeemer. He is MY brother, and He went through everything to do with the Atonement for ME. It has taken me a long time to understand that if no one else ever lived on the earth, Christ would still carry out the Atonement just for me.

I was also wrong about how to deal with temptations. It always seemed like my options were to fight the temptation until I gave in to it, or to just give in immediately and get it over with. This isn't true. There is a third option for me. That option is to not do anything with a temptation. It sounds a little crazy when you first think about it, but it has all of the power for me.

Think of it like a boxing ring. A temptation comes and puts me in the ring with a champion heavyweight boxer (my addict). I could just stand there and take my beating (just giving in), or I could try to fight him and still take my beating. The third option is to just get out of the ring and walk away. To not do anything is not to ignore my temptation or addiction, I am still perfectly aware it is there. It is also not to try to actively fight against it. I can just acknowledge its existence and then go on with whatever I was already doing.

The incredible thing is this works for more than just the temptation view pornography or masturbate. It also works with the feelings of guilt and shame that have been coming the longer I get into sobriety and recovery. Recently, I have caught myself feeling frustrated if I even encounter a trigger. I would think "I should be beyond this. Why am I still having thoughts like this." I've come to realize these criticizing thoughts are just another way for my addict to get me back into the ring. I don't want to get back in the ring, so I just need to let these thoughts go as if they were actual thoughts to indulge in my addiction because this is what they really are.

My addiction has no more power over me as long as I continue to walk away from the ring.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blooming in Rocky Places

Water trickling down the mountain
I was excited this year to hike with our Young Women.  I love nature.  I love the girls.  I love sitting quietly watching God's creations.  I admire the flora and fauna that grace the mountain praries and ridges.  I marvel at their ability to thrive in inhospitable circumstances.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of the trip-- they remind me that I can bloom, grow, and shine even in Rocky Places.

This tree grows off the face of the mountain.   It's sprawling roots cover the trail and are abused by hikers.  I love the bend of the tree as it reaches its way to the sun.

I love these little flowers that blooms in the rocks near a water fall.  Their only water comes from occasional off- spray from the falls.

This little white flower grows along the trail.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Choosing to Be Haydee

Are you familiar with the Count Of Monte Cristo's female characters? Haydee, Mercedes, and Valentine.  Each woman faced unthinkable hardship and heart break.  As I reread Monte Cristo recently, I thought about how each woman fared with the challenges she faced and finally understood why Edmond calls me his Haydee.

Mercedes grew up in a poor fisherman's village.  She was hours from her marriage when her fiance was arrested on spurious charges and whisked away.  She never was told if he was dead or rotting away in some prison.  A year later, she married her good friend Fernand, who amassed a fortune while serving in the army.  The fortune allowed them to live the high life in Parisian society.

When Mercedes learned the fraud surrounding her husband's fortune, she and her grown son abandoned their Parisian life, home and husband/father to build their own future.  Mercedes was without hope and extremely depressed.  Resignation and despair clouded all her visions of the future.  She accepted the charity of Edmond and lived a solitary and sad life.

We meet Valentine as a teen betrothed to a man she doesn't love (and who doesn't love her in return).  She secretly loved a decorated military officer her family had never met.  Her only friend and confidant was her paraplegic and mute grandfather.  When tragedy struck her family and her unwanted marriage is expedited she choose to trust her grandfather and followed his directions in faith.

As Valentine's world continued to crumble around her, she learned to see what is real, to recognize the true threats to her safety and through her trust in Higher Powers was able to be united with her love.  While she mourned for tragedy and hurt that surrounded her family, she found joy in the miracles she experienced.

As a young child, Haydee experienced unimaginable pain.  She witnessed the betrayal of her father and the mass slaughter of all her loved ones.  She was sold into slavery by one who professed to be her friend and protector.

Haydee was purchased by a wealthy man who planned to use her as leverage against his enemies.  He treated her like a queen, but his heart was cold and removed. Haydee quietly observed him, relished his presence and saw all the good he did do.  Haydee learned to love this man for who he really was.  When all he could see was his faults, the injuries he had caused others, his obsession with vengeance;  when all his future was beak with the hatred he had filled his heart with-- even in that moment Haydee saw his goodness.  And LOVED HIM.  Haydee lived in hope and love she found peace and a happily ever after life.

Our stories are filled with heartache and pain.  HOW we choose to live will determine our future.   You may be a Valentine or a Haydee or a Mary or a Martha.  You  may even feel like a Mercedes some days.  We can live in sorrow and be resigned to life and pain.  We can also live in faith and be joyful.

Today I choose to live like Haydee.  With love and trust.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Thoughts

I am excited today to steal a moment away from the mayhem of summer break.  Kids are quietly watching a movie and the computer is unoccupied.  IT'S A MIRACLE!!!

I was reading Romans 5 the other day and I LOVED it.

Being justified by faith
we have peace with God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ... 
and rejoice in hope 
of the glory of God.  
--Romans 5:1-2

I have spent much of my life seeking peace.  Wanting peace.  Not just quiet cooperation among the kids, but the peace that calms the soul.  Through Jesus Christ, through our faith in Him, we can commune with our Father and feel His peace and rejoice in the hope of that rest with our Father.

We glory in tribulation also;
knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience;
and experience hope;
And hope maketh not ashamed
because the love of God 
is shed abroad in our hearts by 
the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
--Romans 5:3-5

Knowing, understanding, embracing this process-- problems, patience, experience, hope, LOVE-- allows me to relax and let life happen.

Off to play with the little ones.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Watching My Thoughts

This is a concept that has always been elusive to me. I know that we are commanded to "watch our thoughts," but what does that really mean? I have never understood how to actually watch my thoughts. I would "watch" as unwholesome thoughts would enter my mind and completely take over. Watching my thoughts almost made me feel powerless over them. Like I was just a bystander who could only watch and do nothing to help.

In the last few months, I have learned that watching my thoughts is much more than that. To truly watch my thoughts, I need to actively pay attention to them and then decide which thoughts to focus attention and energy on. It sounds so easy! Unfortunately, as someone who has spent the majority of my life allowing the addicted part of my brain run the show, it has been quite difficult to do this.

In my previous post, I mentioned that the key to this for me is meditation. The type of meditation I have learned is very simple but powerful in learning to watch my thoughts.

The first step in this type of meditation is to choose a passage to meditate on. It could be a passage of scripture, a quote, or any other passage that is meaningful to you. The only qualifications are that it must be long enough to have deep meaning to you, and it must be short enough to be easily committed to memory. I like to use my future picture statement that I developed earlier.

Next, you need to find a comfortable place and time to meditate. You need to be in a place where you will not be easily interrupted, and where you will not get uncomfortable. I like to meditate early in the morning before anyone else is awake. I have chosen my kitchen where I sit in a chair with my hands resting gently in my lap.

Take a few deep cleansing breaths to help clear your mind. Now, slowly repeat the words of your passage. Make sure that each word gets its own emphasis, but that they are still close enough together to have meaning. While you are repeating the passage, pay attention to what is happening in your mind. It will likely get bored fairly quickly and begin to wander. When this happens, acknowledge the thoughts that come into your mind and then gently set them aside and direct your mind back to your passage.

This will take a lot of practice, especially if you are like me and have spent the majority of your life allowing your mind to wander whenever it desires. Begin by meditating for 5 minutes and then as you become more proficient at directing your thoughts slowly increase the time. I have found that 10 minutes of this type of meditation each morning helps me to focus my mind and be aware of what thoughts enter it. I then have the ability to choose which thoughts to give attention to and which ones to allow to fall by the wayside.

With this level of awareness, I no longer have to fight inappropriate thoughts when they enter my mind. I can acknowledge them and set them aside. I am now able to watch my thoughts and choose where to focus my attention.