Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How I Would Answer

The latest edition of the New Era reached my mailbox yesterday.  After reading the comics with my kids, I flipped through a couple pages seeing what the different articles were about.  A call for responses in the Questions and Answers section caught my eye.

The Questions and Answers sections asks youth how they would answer a question from a friend and shares varied views on how to approach a topic.  The upcoming question is, "I'm trying to control  my thoughts, but there are so many temptations.  How can I have cleaner thoughts?"

The addict's wife in me wanted to jump up to my computer and write.  I wanted to compose a beautiful answer to these youth with real, meaningful answers from someone who has really had to live this (personally and vicariously with Edmond...)  But I have long passed any semblance of "young womanhood."  So I'll tell you what I would write and hope that will suffice.

Dear Concerned Teen,
Tempting and inappropriate thoughts are normal.  I'll say it again and even spell it out for you.  Temptations are N-O-R-M-A-L.  Everyone has them.  Even grown ups.  So what do you do when one pops into the mind.

Popular anecdotes suggest, running from the temptation (think Joseph in Egypt) and willing a positive/spiritual thought to take the tempting thought's place (think sing a hymn or reciting a scripture).  This may work for a while, but when and if they fail, they leave the helpless soul feeling frustrated, disillusioned, heartbroken and sorrowful.

The real lesson to be learned is this:Control is an illusion.  Control is futile.  Control is the way of the adversary-- remember how Satan tried to take away agency and force everyone to return to heaven. The Savior's way has never been to control or force the mind or will to obey.  If He won't use force, we shouldn't force us either.  Force, control and fleeing all lead down the wrong path (read about Edmond's experience).  The hymn teaches that the Savior will,, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

The task given to us as mortals is to learn to guide, direct, lead and influence in love our thoughts so as to allow our minds to become one with the Savior- as He is one with the Father.  Thus we comprehend the magnitude of the covenant to remember Him always.  Much of the choice or power we have with our thoughts is the attention we give them. (Edmond wrote beautifully about this.)

One of my favorite books teaches, "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle can not grow."  Giving attention to the rose means we we dig about it, prune it, dung it, nourish it.  In caring for the rose, no thistle has a chance to take root.  Filling your mind with who you are, who you represent, whose you are, the love you have received from the Savior, loving others around, the beauty of the world's creations and all the other positives of mortal life will not leave room for the negative or destructive thoughts.

Let me repeat, lest you misunderstand.  In a moment of temptation, you can not force clean thoughts;  you can not fight that demon.  Only one can--  and He already has.  You must fill your life with good before the temptation comes, so when it does come there won't be a place for it to stay.  The temptation can fade away gently from before your mind's eye and you can continue on in Love and Life.

What do you do when a temptation crosses your mind.  If you have filled your life with things of Christ, you can let it go with confidence, knowing that you can rely on the Savior.  Now get back to pruning that rose.

Much love and Many Prayers for You,
Haydee Dantes

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thankful for My Addiction?

In a recent group meeting we were talking about the daily struggle with sexual addiction. Our facilitator brought up Captain Moroni and how "his heart did glory in ... resisting temptation" (Alma 48:16). We went on to talk about finding glory in our struggles and tribulations. As we were discussing these things, the following story came back to my mind:

“A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions.
“[According to a class member,] some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded.
“An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
“‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.
“‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’”
This story was quoted by Elder James E. Faust in his talk "The Refiner's Fire" from the April 1979 General Conference (by the way, the entire talk is worth reading).

I have been thinking more about this the past several days. I have been looking at how this relates to my journey in recovery from sexual addiction. Was it a mistake for me to indulge in my addiction? YES, it was. Would I choose again to myself and my family through the devastation caused by my actions? NO, I would not.

With that being said, this addiction is something that requires me to humble myself and trust in the Lord. Those are things I am not very good at on my own. In fact, I am really terrible at them. This journey of recovery is the price I am paying to become acquainted with God, and for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A "New" Me

When Edmond and I started the recovery process, I was excited to write my statement of who I was. The statement came easily and naturally.  It was an expression of all the things I am and want to be. I even made it look pretty.

Read Edmond's Statement Here

 I loved this statement for months.  It was a catalyst for me to act and learn.  Now when I meditate on this vision of who I am, I tend to see and feel the list of things I have not been or done that day.  As I am trying to strengthen myself and focus my mind on loving myself, I get hung up on what I am not, instead of remembering who I want to be.

It must be time to simplify.

Things I do know:
  • My heavenly father has given me 3 amazing gifts-- my body, my agency and my Savior Jesus Christ
  • I treasure these most precious gifts
  • I know I am loved

My "New" Statement
I am a beloved daughter of my Father in Heaven.  Because He loves ME, he has given me the gift of a body, the gift of a Savior and the gift of agency.  I treasure these precious gifts and use them to love and serve others.  I am a powerful witness of the intense and enduring love of my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ.  Though Christ's healing power, I feel peace, hope, love and joy.

I love that I can change, adapt, modify, & adjust when I need to.  I don't have to stagnate and feel less about myself.  Because I am loved, I can move on.