The Addiction Recovery program seems to be a little taboo among many members that I meet. For many I sense that it’s more like that dark room in the back that only the worst sinners enter on random weeknights in order to work on their problems (you know pedophiles, adulterers, druggies and the like). Sex addiction, substance addiction, etc. or whatever it may be is something that far too often is only talked about in a preventative sense in our Sunday school classes. I mean, surely no one in our family is an addict. All the kids in our second hour classes are good kids, we don’t see any of them being involved with pornography. We can only think of a couple of people that we know that have had problems with drugs in the past. We know our kids have an attitude problem sometimes, and maybe we snap at them or our spouse a little too sharply on occasion, but none of us have those kind of ugly issues. We’ll all get to the celestial kingdom anyways, right? Well, let me tell you something I’ve realized since attending addiction recovery meetings on my own.
Besides, we’re all addicted to something.
If you ask someone who has attended an addiction recovery meeting before in order to help themselves through repentance, they might tell you that it was one of the scariest things they’ve ever done; at least, it was for me. Nobody, at first, thinks they’ll ever be in that boat, and they sure as heck don’t want anybody to know that they’re going to start attending when it finally faces them. Confession to loved ones and/or priesthood leaders was stressful, but strangely liberating (and that feeling of weight being lifted off your shoulders and trusting in the Lord is the only reason some of us even had the courage to go meetings that included other people in the first place). My first meeting was while attending a YSA ward. When I walked up to the door of the church building that night and read the sign on the door that said “Addiction Recovery Meeting In Progress, Please Use Other Doors,” I immediately got a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. I didn’t want anybody in that meeting to see me. I really hoped I didn’t see somebody I knew in there. I opened the door and went in anyways. What I found was remarkable. Turns out I did know somebody in that meeting. In fact, I knew three people. Oddly to me at the time, it was very comforting to see a familiar face. I attended a few meetings there before I got married and eventually moved to another state.
It took me a few weeks to work up the courage to ask to attend the recovery meetings in my new stake, because I knew it wasn’t just going to be other fellow kids in their twenties this time. I was married and attending a regular family ward, and I knew there were going to be people much older than I in that meeting, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that (repeat original anxiety felt when attending first meeting back home). My first meeting I showed up about 10 minutes late in basketball shorts and a ball cap, and I brought a Gatorade with me because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to breath without a drink of some sort. I didn’t talk much that first meeting and didn’t make eye contact with anybody. In fact, I had even let my facial hair grow out a little more than usual to make myself look older.
But what was I afraid of, we’re all addicted to something, aren’t we?
As I listened to the stories from these folks week after week who seemed so much more mature than I felt (I mean, most of them all had multiple kids and had ten plus years on me), I was astonished at the love and faith that they had. The bravery they showed when they finally decided enough was enough and that they needed to get back on the right side of the Lord was inspiring. Some were pretty fresh in their recovery progress, some had been sober for years. Some had just gotten re-baptized after being excommunicated, and some were just there because they liked the spirit they felt when they attended years ago. The trust that they all had in each other was inspiring. The camaraderie that I could feel in that room was invigorating. As I came to find out, the addiction recovery manual is available to all members of the church on the Gospel Library app. As we read through the steps and I heard the testimonies of these saints (and they are saints in every meaning of the word), I was blown away with how deep, honest, and searching the addiction recovery program asks you to be. Honestly, it was terrifying (just go read the section about step 4, for example). I remembered how hard I tried to be perfectly obedient on my mission, and how hard I tried to strip myself of pride and be more like Christ. I remember the spirit that I felt in my district meetings when we were all working just as hard to be good servants of the Lord. For the first time since coming home, I felt a similar atmosphere. I realized that these folks were putting more effort into sincerely and purposefully living the gospel than most members that I knew. It is rare that any of us leave one of those meetings with having had dry eyes the whole time.
You know those folks in your ward or in your family that just seem like spiritual giants? You can just feel it, right? They live the gospel on purpose, every day. Maybe its your mom or dad, maybe your grandpa, maybe your bishop. Perhaps you’re thinking of one of the general authorities that you’ve met or know. The point is, they live the 12 steps of the addiction recovery program. They might not know it, but most likely they are. All the program really is is the steps to prepare yourself for the celestial kingdom. It’s just the steps on how to live a righteous life.
Point is, it shouldn’t be a taboo program that nobody wants to talk about. We’re all addicts.
We all have our “vices,” as I hear them called. We all have something that we know has a little too much control over our own will. Food? Video Games? Facebook? Football? All the above? Whatever it is, there is SOMETHING in your life that is holding you back from a better relationship with God, your family, and yourself. The addiction recovery manual lines out step by step how to set aside our pride, look deep, and change yourself. If you want to know how the Lord wants us to live our lives, and how to change your heart so that you want to live that way, study the scriptures. If you want it dumbed down into an easy to understand, step by step process, read the addiction recovery manual.
Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has
Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son,
Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood
authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.
Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make
restitution to them.
Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power
to carry it out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message
with others and practice these principles in all you do.
Now, maybe you don’t need to confess to priesthood authority about anything, but there are definitely some things we all need to get straight in our lives if we want to be prepared for when the Savior comes as a thief in the night. Try taking these steps (perhaps you can change the wording a little bit to better fit your own situation) and try to live them. Maybe you could even go through it in family home evening.
I hope with my whole being that my family and I are ready and waiting when the Lord calls us home. By both working through and continuously living these steps, I hope the Lord can say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” when I see him again.