Friday, November 22, 2013

My Children Will Doubt Not That Their Mother Knew It

It has been a while since General Conference, but one talk hasn't left my mind.  I keep hearing the theme repeated over and over. Maybe I ought to learn something.   It is time to write it down.

Edmond and I watched General Conference with a prayer in our hearts, desiring to know how we can lead out in the fight against pornography.  What is it that the Lord needs us to do and be?  Interestingly our answers were a little different-- we are different people after all.  Edmond needed to do something, and I needed to understand something.  And I keep hearing it....

I'll admit, I went into conference ready to and willing to rally the troops, take a stand and go big or go home.  I am (and have always been) an action oriented lady.  Let me get in there and roll up my sleeves and get it done!  Show me that wheel and I will push it along and invite everyone else to join me too!

Elder Scott's talk, Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, touched my heart and my mind and helped me understand how my efforts need to be directed.  Do you remember his talk?  Elder Scott related the conversion and subsequent dilemma faced by the people of Ammon.

After their conversion, the people of Ammon abandoned the weapons of their rebellion and covenanted to never again take up weapons.  The Nephites offered protection to the converts during a long and brutal war.  But Nephite army began to suffer and the people of Ammon considered taking up the weapons of war again to defend their people.

Elder Scott explains

The people of Ammon were at a critical moment of their spiritual lives. They had been true to their covenant never to take up arms. But they understood that fathers are responsible to provide protection to their families. That need seemed great enough to merit consideration of breaking their covenant.

Their wise priesthood leader, Helaman, knew that breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified. He offered an inspired alternative. He reminded them that their sons had never been guilty of the same sins and therefore had not needed to make the same covenant. Though the sons were very young, they were physically strong and, more important, they were virtuous and pure. The sons were fortified by the faith of their mothers.  Under the direction of their prophet-leader, these young men took their fathers’ place in defense of their families and homes.

Our beloved husbands and fathers are like the converted men in this story.  They have been "a wild and a hardened ” people (Alma 17:4).  Their addiction to lust is as powerful and destructive as the Ammonties' addiction to blood and carnage.  But like the Ammonites, they have covenanted and are covenanting to leave behind forever the weapons of their rebellion and follow the Lord at all cost.

And the cost is high.  Our families are under attack.  Enemies seen and unseen are seeking out the souls of our children.  Who is left to defend the family?  I love Elder Scott's empathy,
 
Consider the tender feelings of those fathers. How must they have felt to know that the rebellious actions of their past prevented them from protecting their wives and children at that moment of need? Knowing personally of the atrocities their sons would now face, they must have privately wept. Fathers, not children, are supposed to protect their families! Their sorrows must have been intense....
However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit.
Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence. We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements. Such was the case of the faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after their years of faithful living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves spiritually from any attraction to the memory of past sins.
At times I wish more men would join in the battle against pornography.  They know the devastating damage first hand.  But this talk helped me understand how Satan might use the battle to destroy and hurt men on the mend.  Elder Scott taught of the Ammonites,
Their humble, lifelong commitment to forsaking their sins did more to protect their families than anything they could have done on the battlefield. Their submission did not deprive them of blessings. It strengthened them and blessed them and blessed future generations.
Our men and our families must be fortified.  We must help build the fortifications that will protect and nurture and stregthen the rising generation who will face the enemy.  Elder Scott spoke of the righteous influence of women-- the mothers of the Stripling Warriors.  

Elder Scott clearly taught that, "their sons, who were blessed with righteous traditions, were not as vulnerable to the same temptations. They were able to defend their families faithfully without compromising their spiritual well-being."   "The sons were fortified by the faith of their mothers."  As I send off my sons and daughters into battle, I feel confident.  They know that I KNOW!  They doubt not my faith.

What better fortification can we build than the shield of faith?

Elder Scott taught,
Though the sons fought in fierce battles where all received at least some injury, not one life was lost. The young men proved to be a vital boost to the weary Nephite army. They were faithful and spiritually stronger when they returned home. Their families were blessed, protected, and strengthened.

Undoubtedly, our sons and daughters will fight fierce battles and be injured.  But their faith will grow strong and they will see miracles.   They will succeed where we can't.  They are the hope.  They will fight to protect the family and their fathers.

So where should my efforts lie in the fight against pornography.  I must fortify my family-- and all I love-- my biological sons and daughters and the sons and daughters I teach and love.  I must teach powerfully.  I must prepare my sons to face the atrocities of battle with faith the the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that He will deliver them and give them victory.  They must be surrounded and enveloped with love and hope and faith so they will have no cause to doubt.  They will KNOW that I KNOW!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Secret Sign

Today has been glorious and not so glorious all at the same time.

Sick child at home (threw up last night and I slept through it!) means I get to play hookey from work-- and help the now feeling fine and energetic child find something to occupy themselves-- besides tv and video games.

No work means time to write and think and chat with friends I haven't had time to catch up with lately.  All glorious.

But sad.  As I confided in a good friend about the struggle this year has been in our marriage and the amazing blessings the Lord has poured into our family and home, tears welled up in her eyes because that is the same struggle she has been facing too.  The battle with porn has left its mark on my friend.

How would I have known?  How could she have known?  Women who see and love each other and share so much but leave so much of the heartbreak unsaid.  It's understandable of course.  It's not my sin.  It's not my problem.  It is not mine to embarrass or unveil my Edmond's problems in the eyes of the world-- even if it is my own small area of the globe.  And thankfully Edmond doesn't feel like my discussing my problems with his pron addiction is "outing" his secret.  But I still don't feel like I can walk into a group setting and outright talk about the issues I face.

I know I am not the only woman facing these same challenges in my neighborhood.  Blogs are great.  But they are still filtered, edited, and not the fully raw emotion.  There is something about crying with a friend and sharing tears of empathy that heals the soul.  There is something to knowing that a person you KNOW is going through the same muck that makes it more bearable... at least you can make a joke and they understand, or a comment that will not be taken the wrong way.

I remember the day Edmond told me.  I called a dear friend to talk.  She listened and she loved.  But she had no clue.  It took months for me to find a friend (one that I already had) who had experienced the same thing.  And now 8 months later, I know 3 women personally whose spouses have porn issues- this morning it was 2.  There has got to be a better way to support the women around us who bear this unspoken burden.

I am reminded of the story of the first Christians in the Roman Empire.  They lived in secrecy never knowing who among them shared their belief.  They developed a secret sign to distinguish themselves.  When they met someone they would draw half the outline of a fish in the sand with their toe.  If the person responded by finishing the figure, they each knew they were believers.
photo credit: teejaybee via photopin cc

Half a heart will be my sign.  Finish my heart and I will know you know.  I will know you share burdens and heartbreak.  I'll know that your heart is being healed just like mine is through the Atonement of Christ and His Love.  Christ's love is answer for each women of faith who turns to the Savoir.  

It will be His love that heals our homes and families.

photo credit: Miriam Cardoso de Souza via photopin cc

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thankful

As mentioned previously, I've recently been studying the visit of Christ to the Nephites in 3 Nephi. The past few days I have been focusing on these verses:
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
8 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
9 And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17:7-10)
In reading these verses, I find it interesting that those who were afflicted in any manner needed to be brought to the Savior in order to be healed. They were not able to come to Him on their own. I was one of those who was afflicted and needed others to bring me to Christ.

Through pondering on these verses, I have come to a greater realization of how grateful I am for those who have helped to bring me to Christ that I may be healed of my affliction. I am truly thankful for my wife who is the most kind, loving, and forgiving person I know. She shouldn't have to deal with all I have put her through, but she chooses to go through it and love me anyway. She is the most Christlike person I have ever met, and I am amazed at how much love she has to give.

I am also thankful for my Bishop for listening to me and helping me in my quest to become worthy to hold the Priesthood of God and serve my family through that power. I am also grateful to him for helping me to find a therapist who is skilled in addiction recovery.

I am grateful to my therapist for helping me to understand the true nature of my addiction, and for teaching me practical tools to manage my addiction on a day to day basis and rely on my Savior for help.

Mostly I am thankful for my Father in Heaven and my Savior for finding ways to show their love for me even when I was in the depths of addiction. I am grateful for the healing that comes through Christ's Atonement, and I am grateful that they never give up on me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

To Hear and Do

Recently in my scripture study I have been reading the words of Christ to the Nephites in 3 Nephi. In my reading, I came across a passage that is very familiar to me and to just about anyone who has read the Book of Mormon or the Bible. This time, I recognized some things I had never noticed before.
 24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (3 Nephi 14:24-27)
 The first thing I noticed is that both the wise man and the foolish man hear the sayings of the Lord. In this context, to hear means to understand and to believe. So, both the wise man and the foolish man understand and believe the words of the Lord. The difference in these two is that the wise man "doeth them."

The second thing I noticed is that both men had to endure the same storm. The wise man was not spared from the trial (that would be counter to God's plan for us). He dealt with the same rain, floods, and wind as the foolish man. The difference is that the wise man was prepared to deal with the situation while the foolish man was not.

We are all going to face hard times in life. Sometimes those are of our own making like the choices I made in my youth that led to me becoming addicted to pornography. Sometimes our challenges are the result of the choices of others like my wife having to live with my addiction. Sometimes life is just hard. That is a normal part of our mortal existence.

Our ability to deal with those challenges without being destroyed is based on our preparation. I understand the words of Christ and I believe Him, but my foundation of faith is built in the doing of His words. I build my foundation every day when I get up and study my scriptures even if it would be nice to lay in bed for an extra half hour. I build my foundation every day when I make a plan for my day and then work to achieve the goals I have set.

I do want to be clear about one thing. Doing these actions of themselves does not give me the strength to withstand my challenges. Doing these actions helps me learn how to rely on Jesus Christ to aid me when I need it. Through doing the words of Christ, I come to know Him better and understand His love and care for me. Through doing the words of Christ, I am more prepared to receive of His grace because I am humble enough to recognize my inability to overcome on my own.