This question has come up before with sponsees who are preparing to start Step 12.
Here’s an email conversation with a sponsee who is now actively working Step 12:
Yes I’m excited to take the next step and help others. I’m excited at the idea of sponsoring and learning to reach out more. I’m nervous as well for a lot of reasons, but I do have faith that the Lord has been a strength to me a long the way and taught me specific things so that I could have the experiences to help others. Or at least begin to learn how to help others.
I still get nervous from time to time – what if I say the wrong thing, what if I get prideful, what if I’m not connected enough with the Spirit, what if I talk too much, what if… the list could go on. But a couple things I’ve realized:
1. I’m not going to be perfect, but I’m willing to do the best I can and know that God will help.
2. The only thing I can really do for a sponsee is be there, share MY experience in recovery, and “let him govern himself.” I feel the details have been pretty well spelled out, at least in the 90 day program. As your sponsor and friend, I’ll be here if you have questions about sponsorship.
I loved what you said about how your life has changed. I agree that this program is a kick-starter to a new normal. It’s amazing the feelings that can come once the guilt and hiding and shame have been replaced with openness, willingness, and a bit of humility. I say a bit because I feel like battling pride is something I’m always going to have to be aware of.
The Addiction Recovery Relationship has really stood out to me lately: A: Debilitating Negative Emotions B: Lust C: Sexually Acting Out. For so long in my attempts to recover on my own, I really ONLY focused on C – the acting out part. Sure, B was on my mind – I even said I was addicted to pornography, masturbation and lust. But did I really realize what I was doing every time I looked at a woman from the neck down? Did I realize that was acting on my addiction to lust? No, I didn’t. I thought that was just normal. I thought that I was fine to look, at least for a second.
But what I’ve realized since then is that by looking, I’m allowing my mind to start comparing, coveting, and wanting what I don’t have. There will always be grass greener on the other side of the fence.
What I’m grateful for today is that, as I practice the chin-up approach, I don’t compare at all. I’m so grateful for my relationship with my wife. I value most the emotional connection we have, and I rarely have the “bad thoughts” that used to haunt me almost constantly. I thought I’d never be able to overcome that. And I’ve realized that I haven’t been able to – but with God’s help, and by doing His will of not looking at women from the neck down, He’s helped me to be able to clear my mind one moment at a time.
To me, this is a miracle just like you mentioned in your writing. Getting out of the mud we’ve been stuck in for most of our lives. Having the guilt be gone. Wanting to reach out and help others and believing we can make a difference.
One scripture that has stuck out to me recently, that I feel relates to your fear of not being down the path as “far” as some of the other addicts who are trying to recover, is this:
“And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (D&C 42:23).
Lust is hell. Looking on a woman to lust after her is committing adultery in my mind.
…the Lord later says that if Melchizedek Priesthood holders look “on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16)
In the Rowboats and Marbles book, he shares this insight:
The big surprise is that there are only two groups! There are those with no pornography problem and those with a big pornography problem. There is no middle group! One of the themes throughout my essays is that there is no such thing as a “little problem” when it comes to sex and pornography addiction.
Yes, there are different “levels” of addiction for sure, but, to me, the fact that you have been through the 90 day program, that you are learning how to surrender your life and your will to God, these experiences are enough to help the vilest of sinners. A pre-requisite for our mission work was not to have sinned as much as the people we were going to teach.
Anyway, this has been a bit long, but I really enjoyed reading your step work this morning and commend you for all the consistency and for being thorough.
Have a great day!
What are your thoughts on the question? What does it take to be effective at working Step 12?