Day 61 – Step Work
CHANGE OF HEART
KEY PRINCIPLE: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
After the rigorous emotional and spiritual cleansing of steps 4 and 5, most of us were amazed at the transformation in ourselves. We prayed more intently, pondered the scriptures more regularly, and kept a journal more consistently. We prepared to make and keep sacred covenants by attending sacrament meeting.
Are you continuing to improve in the quality of your prayers, scripture study, journaling, and church activity?
I feel pretty good about this – although I’d like to be better – especially at personal prayers and scripture study. My focus has been on working the steps of recovery and I haven’t always been reading scriptures as much as I’d like. Today I will commit to working on this area.
I do feel good about journaling and where I’m at in talking to myself and God via writing and prayer.
What do you still need improvement on?
I need improvement on schedule. I have written out a schedule before but haven’t always stuck to it.
Granted, I’m living one day at a time, but I’d like to follow a consistent routine of when I study the scriptures, when I work on the step work, when I wake up, when I go to bed – things like that. This routine, I feel, can be helpful in living one day at a time and being consistent in my dailies. I want to print out my schedule so I can be reminded of it each day.
As we took step 5, many of us met with our bishops and sought help in repentance. Most of us found our addictions tempted us less intensely and less often. Some of us were already free from our addictions. With such mighty changes in our behavior and our lives, some of us wondered why we needed more steps.
As time passed, though, we noticed that abstinence seemed to make our character weaknesses more visible, especially to ourselves. We tried to control our negative thoughts and feelings, but they continued to reappear, haunting us and threatening our new lives of abstinence and Church activity. Those who understood the spiritual implications of recovery urged us to recognize that while all the outward changes in our lives were wonderful, the Lord wanted to bless us even more. Our friends helped us see that if we wanted not only to avoid our addictions but actually lose the desire to return to them, we had to experience a change of heart. This change of heart or desire is the purpose of step 6.
“How?” you may cry. “How can I even begin to accomplish such a change?” Don’t be discouraged by these feelings. Step 6, like the steps before it, may feel like an overwhelming challenge. As painful as it may be, you may have to admit, as we did, that recognizing and confessing your character weaknesses in steps 4 and 5 did not necessarily mean you were ready to give them up. You may realize that you still cling to old ways of reacting to and coping with stresses in life—maybe even more so now that you have let go of your addictions.
As you prepare for taking steps 5, 6, & 7, step 6 directs us simply to become ready to have the shortcomings we have identified in our inventories to be removed…this means to stop clinging to them and resisting God, in their removal.
Will you prayerfully prepare for “this” readiness?
Yes. I feel my character weaknesses are the following:
- Lack of patience with the kids, especially Caleb
- Expecting too much from the kids
- Procrastinating hard things
- Putting off important things like scripture study
- Wanting to always be right
- Looking down on others that believe or practice their beliefs different than I do, especially if I feel they know better
- Getting defensive if someone questions my reasoning or decisions
- I’m sure there are others, but none are coming to me right now
I’m willing to pray about these things.
Probably the most humbling thing to acknowledge is that you still harbor a prideful desire to change without the help of God. Step 6 means surrendering to God all remnants of pride and self-will. Like steps 1 and 2, step 6 requires you to humble yourself and admit your need for the redeeming and transforming power of Christ. After all, His atoning sacrifice has enabled you to accomplish each step to this point. Step 6 is no exception.
As you come unto Jesus Christ, seeking help with this step, you will not be disappointed. If you trust Him and have patience with the process, you will see your pride gradually replaced by humility. He will wait patiently for you to weary of your own unaided effort to change, and as soon as you turn to Him you will witness once again His love and power in your behalf. Your resistance to letting go of old patterns of behavior will be replaced by an open mind as the Spirit gently suggests a better way of living. Your fear of change will diminish as you realize the Lord understands the pain and hard work it requires.
Can you see how you are being prepared for step 7 and greater humility?
Yes, I really feel this has been a long and tough process, and I don’t think by any means that I’ve arrived yet, but I feel willing to submit my entire will over to God in regard to anything. I want to do this. I know it takes practice and a willing heart, but I want to do this.
Will you strive to “cooperate” with the Lord in putting off the natural man in you?
Yes, I feel like I’m trying to do this everyday, especially with lustful thoughts or wandering eyes. When I’m in the moment of temptation, I try to say a personal prayer to God to ask Him to help me “put off the natural man.” When I have thoughts of the past or thoughts that are inappropriate, I try to pray immediately for deliverance. I know this works. I know He’s there. I know He wants to help me if I will let Him. I’m grateful for this understanding.
As the process of coming unto Christ takes hold in your heart, you will find the false beliefs that fueled negative thoughts and feelings gradually replaced by truth. You will grow in strength as you continue to study the word of God and ponder its personal application. Through the testimonies of others, the Lord will help you learn the truth that you are not beyond His power to heal. The desire to blame others for the condition of your character or to rationalize your way out of a change of heart will be replaced by the desire to be accountable to Him and submissive to His will. Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord declared, “A new heart . . . will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
The Lord wants to bless you with a change of disposition that will unite you with Him in mind and
heart, just as He is united with the Father. He wants to give you rest from your isolation from God the Father, the isolation that caused the fears which contributed to your addiction. He wants to make the Atonement effective in your life, here and now.
As you yield to the promptings of the Spirit and look to the Savior for salvation, not only from addiction but from character weaknesses, you can be assured that a new disposition or character will grow out of your willing heart. A growing desire to be sanctified by God will make you ready for a change in your very nature. One of the best descriptions of this process can be found in these words of President Ezra Taft Benson:
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take
people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. . . .
“May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed in Him, and born again” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5–6; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6–7).
Is this not beginning to happen in you already?
I hope so, yes. I feel it is. I feel like a different person today than I was, say, 1 year ago. Today is day 350 in recovery from my addictions. I know I’ve only been able to do this one day at a time and with the constant help of God and His Son.
I feel different. I actually FEEL. I want to do what’s right. I want to be close to my Savior and to my wife and family – emotionally close.
I’m grateful for the gradual change I’m feeling. Last night at group meeting was such a manifestation to me of the Spirit changing me. What I shared was from the heart. What I shared was an example to me that God does hear me and wants to reveal to me things that I can’t discover on my own. I had no idea why I was mad or feeling the way I was, and through His Spirit, I got answers as I wrote in my journal.
I’m grateful for the realization.
Be willing to allow the Savior to convert your heart; participate in the fellowship of Christ by attending Sunday School and Relief Society or priesthood meeting
When we were baptized, few of us understood the lifelong process of true conversion. However, President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency explained it plainly: “In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8).
As you experience the miracle of ongoing recovery—first from destructive addictive behaviors and then from character weaknesses—you will experience true conversion. You will begin to awaken, to come to yourself just as the prodigal son came to himself (see Luke 15:17).
You will begin to realize that to return to Heavenly Father’s kingdom, you must not only awake but arise and allow Jesus Christ to be your Redeemer.
As you yield your heart to God and grow stronger in humility, your resolve not to repeat past behaviors will become firmer and firmer. Delivered from the bondage of the past, you will feel more and more comfortable among brothers and sisters in the Church. You will find yourself desiring to return and be gathered as a child of God and numbered in full fellowship among the sheep of His fold (see 1 Nephi 22:24–26; Mosiah 27:25–26; Mosiah 29:20; Helaman 3:35).
Will you strive to fully partake of this process one day at a time?
Yes, absolutely. I feel this is where I am today and I’m happy to be here.
Be willing to be changed so imperfections may be removed through the power of God
Whether your addiction has been to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, self-destructive eating patterns, compulsive spending, or another behavior or substance that represents your need to run and hide from stress or challenges in your life, you can come to realize that it all began in your mind and heart. Healing also begins in your mind and heart. As you become willing to be changed by coming unto Jesus Christ, you will learn of His power to heal.
Do you understand the simplicity of step 6 and the role YOU play in this process? Why or why not?
I think I do, yes. It’s all about me being willing to turn my life and will over to God and let Him direct me for good. The only thing I really have complete control over is my will. Everything else is out of my control. My will determines how I react to certain situations, but I can’t control how situations come about. I’m hopeful that as I continue to live in recovery one day at a time, I can learn more and more clearly what this means for me and that I can help others who are striving to rid their life of addiction too.
By taking step 6, you increase your commitment to abstain from past addictions through a deepening relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ, and with the Father, who sent Him. You decide to become sober minded like the young prophet Mormon (see Mormon 1:15). You continue to accept that God must truly become everything to you in order to save you from weaknesses of thought, word, and action.
How do you feel about “increasing” your commitment to abstain from your addiction?
I feel good about it. I feel ready to increase my commitment. I want to be fully committed to God and His will.
Is your relationship with God continuing to “deepen?” Describe.
I think so, yes, although I know there are areas I can improve and dedicate and commit myself more (consistent scripture study, personal prayer). But I’m not going to beat myself up about those things – instead I’m going to take one day at a time and try to turn my life and will over to Him today.
Is God “becoming” everything to you? Explain.
I hope so. I want Him to be. I’m grateful to be working on these steps again where I get to write out my thoughts and feelings. Step 4 is essential, but it’s more thinking about the past than it is about the present.
I look forward to today and to working on having God become everything to me – one day at a time.