Last night I talked with my sponsor for the first time. He’s from Kansas City and the conversation went well.
I’ll admit, I’m a bit nervous about being able to keep the commitment of communication two times a day for 90 days straight, but I believe this is important for my recovery and I’m willing to work hard everyday.
Here is the first section of reading and the questions:
We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious spiritual victories. We who once lived with daily depression, anxiety, fear and debilitating anger now experience joy and peace. We have witnessed miracles in our own lives and in the lives of others who were ensnared in addiction.
Have you known great sorrow in your life? Describe.
Yes, I’ve known great sorrow in my life, especially over the last year or maybe even two years. Due to my addiction and the choices I’ve made, I almost ruined my entire family relationship. I lost the trust of my wife. I was always angry with my children (and mostly myself). I was really “past feeling” and was so ensnared in the chains of my addiction that I wasn’t willing to admit where I was. When I finally did talk to the Bishop and my wife about the mistakes I’d made, the true sorrow set in. I’ve never seen Becky be so sad. I’ve never seen Becky be so mad. I thought I was going to lose her and the kids. It caused such a sick feeling. This sorrow is something I hope to never feel again.
Have you experienced devastating defeats? What were they?
Yes. Due to the same mistakes, I’ve felt defeated. I didn’t know what to do. The loss of trust from Becky, my kids wondering if she and I were getting a divorce, not knowing what tomorrow was going to bring – these were all “devastating defeats” that make me sick to even think about now. Every time I gave in to my addiction was also a devastating defeat. I’m grateful that today, as I submit my will to Him, those feelings of defeat haven’t reappeared.
Do you live with depression, anxiety, fear, anger or other negative emotions? Write about the feelings you are struggling with at this time.
I definitely have lived with all of those negative emotions, especially during the times in my addiction where I had hit rock bottom. I was always angry, and many times I didn’t even know why or realize that I could recognize what I was feeling. That anger was probably caused by fear of my addiction, as fear is the opposite of faith. Anxiety – this was probably a core issue too due to being unsure about my career, about my faith, and about my recovery from addiction to pornography. The combination of all these fears probably resulted in depression, but I was most likely too proud to ever admit that during the time I was feeling these emotions.
The good news is, as I’ve been working in the program, reading, writing, and sharing with Becky and a professional counselor, the feelings haven’t come back as often. Yes, I’m still fearful at times, especially if I think too far in the future. Yes, at times I do still get angry, especially with the kids – which I’m working on; but I don’t feel nearly as much anxiety and I don’t feel much if any depression. I would say the only time those feelings come back are when I am reminded about how much pain I’ve caused Becky. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much pain I’ve caused her, but when I see it in her face or in her actions, I begin to fear that she’s going to leave or do other things.
As I submit my will to God, the negative emotions seem to dissipate.
Do you consider yourself ensnared? How?
I definitely have considered myself ensnared in the past. For about 2 years I was caught in my addiction at its worst form. I justified my behavior. I tried to white-knuckle recovery. I was deceiving myself and I believed what I was doing was “fine.” My slow decent led to actions I never thought would be possible – having an online affair with a girl I barely even knew. Talking about things that were inappropriate and being tempted to actually meet up.
How could I have been so blinded? How could I have put my entire life and family on the line? As I’ve written about before, this was definitely the Carnal Nate – a side of myself that I don’t ever want to be around again.
It’s hard to even imagine that I would go to those depths.
I’m grateful that today, I’m trying to submit and be the Spiritual Nate, the person that Becky knew when we were dating and when we got married. I realize that both sides of me, the natural man and the spiritual side, will always be there (they are the influenced by the limbic part of the brain and the frontal cortex part of the brain). But I also know that as I submit my will to God, He will help me, He will lighten my burdens, and He will lead me down a path that will keep me away from the chains of Satan.
I’m grateful for a new day in recovery. I’m grateful to start this program with a sponsor. I’m grateful to write out my feelings and submit my will today. I know that I can only realistically live one day at a time – that if I think too far into the future, I can become ensnared again in fear, anxiety, and other negative emotions.
I look forward to today.
Now to my study of the scriptures and words of the prophets.
Today I want to study about Grace. Yesterday, when I was looking for an answer on how to do some coding, I ran into a site that builds websites for churches. He was an evangelical and shared his beliefs about the gospel. One of the points he shared was:
Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
I only read one talk – it was by Elder Gerald N Lund and was titled “Salvation: By Grace or by Works?”
It was quite a complex article. But to summarize, Elder Lund shares this analogy:
We are like a powerhouse on a mighty river. The powerhouse has no power residing in itself; the potential power rests in the energy of the river. When that source of power flows through the generators of the power plant, power is transferred from the river to the power plant and sent out into the homes (lives) of others.
So it is with faith. The power to achieve justification does not reside in man. Man requires the power of the atonement of Christ flowing into him. If no power is being generated, one does not—indeed, cannot—turn the generators by hand (justification by works); but rather, an effort is made to remove those things which have blocked the power from flowing into the generators (working righteousness as a result of faith).
With this background then, one can understand why the scriptures clearly stress that faith includes works (see James 2:17–26); that is, obedience, commitment, and repentance—these are the works of faith that open up the channels so that the power of the atoning sacrifice of Christ can flow into us, redeem us from sin, and bring us back into the presence of God. Disobedience and wickedness dam those channels. (How literal is the word damnation!) The righteous works in themselves do not save us. The atoning power of God saves us. But our righteous works, activated by our faith in the Savior, are the condition for the operation of that power.
Thus, each of us has something to say about whether he will be able to seek the gift and power of the Atonement in his behalf.
He goes on to say this:
The atoning power of God unto salvation is a freely available gift from him—but our works of righteousness are essential to bring the gift into power in our lives. Sin brings alienation from God. The more we sin, the greater the alienation and the more difficult it becomes to effectively tap the power of God, which alone is sufficient to save us from our sins.
I look forward to studying more about grace.
Here are a few articles I’d like to read:
- In the Strength of the Lord: https://www.lds.org/liahona/2004/11/in-the-strength-of-the-lord?lang=eng
- Receiving Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1993/05/receiving-divine-assistance-through-the-grace-of-the-lord?lang=eng
- Words of the Early Apostles: Grace: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/10/words-of-the-early-apostles-grace?lang=eng&query=Ephesians+2%3a8-9
I also look forward to working the steps of the program with my sponsor and living in recovery one day at a time.