Musings on Step 3: Part 2

Agency: The ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. 

So what is it about this agency that makes it such a big deal? WCreationell, for one, Agency is the ability to make choices, whether good or bad.  We are all endowed with this at the time we were created.  Even in the pre-existence God did not get in the way of our agency. We chose to turn right, or to turn left.  Being that He is a God of Laws, ultimately, it’s the consequences that we had and still have no choice in.

Then there’s the “free” in “free agency.”  Here’s how I see it; Free agency is what we get for choosing in the pre-existence to side with God and agree to come to this earth to be tried, tested, and proved.  It is in the act of giving up the “free” part that “Agency” that defines which direction where heading.  In other words, we replace freely making choices by our own accord to following and letting someone else make the choices for us.  Thus, we give the “free” to someone else.

It is no secret that the war in heaven is still raging here on earth.  Who wins is a foregone conclusion, which side we’ll be on is a different matter.  When a person falls into addiction, they have given their “free” part of their agency to the Adversary.  The struggle with our agency is that the Adversary is not reticent to give it up.  His main goal is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to come to God’s side.

Adversary you ask?  Well, what is addiction?  In its simplest term: The compulsive need for something.  To get past addiction one must turn control over to God.  If that’s the case, then the converse is true; that with addiction, we have turned control over to the Adversary.  So with addiction we have given our “free” portion away to that one person whose goal it is to destroy God and his children.  So let’s talk about giving our “free” to someone whose goal it is to not tear us down, but to build us up to our ultimate potential.

As a reminder:
Step 3: Decide to turn your will and your life over the care of God the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

The last post spoke about how we need to give up control to improve our behavior.  Now we’re going to talk about turning over the “free” part of our “free agency” to God.  Boyd K. Packer described his decision to yield his agency to God and what the consequences were:

Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest boyd_k_packer_MDcommitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him—without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, “I will do as you direct,” is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more.
(Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Dec. 7, 1971],4)

If there’s one thing about rehabilitation, recovery and even the gospel is that it is filled with counter-intuitiveness. If I were to tell you that if you gave me a dollar, I would give you a thousand dollars, for free!  The concept of “if it sounds too good to be true, then it is” comes to mind. But in parsing his comment, there are a couple of factors we need to keep in mind.

First, it’s not an “all at once” experience.  Give me a person who said that overnight they changed their way and I’ll give you a person who, in one way or another, was preparing for years to get to that point.  Packer’s comment of when he “finally” had the confidence really speaks volumes, and should be kept in mind by anyone who is seeking to better their life.  The word “finally” denotes that he was working at it for a period of time.  Why would it be any different for us?

I’m under the belief that we are all spiritual infants to our Father in heaven.  He does not expect us to all too suddenly be perfect in this life.  In reality, I believe this earth life was designed for us to make mistakes in.  I believe another word for it is “school.”  This is why I am skeptical of people who smile too much and are always praised by others.  There’s something that’s being hidden.  And by not confronting that hidden something, that person is being held back.  So with addicts, confronting their compulsions is part of being in the school of life, which lessons extend far beyond this mortal realm.

So I know that if I slip up, I quickly repent and move on.  I do my best not to dwell on past mistakes other than to learn from them.  It’s pointless to beat ourselves over something that was designed to teach us and help us progress.  But then the question, what are we progressing to?

This is where the counter-intuitiveness comes in.  His last sentence, “In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, “I will do as you direct,” is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more.” really is the kicker.  We give up our agency, we let God take control, we exercise trust and faith and what do we get for it – more freedom.  Huh?

I’ve met so many addicts who pray, saying “thy will be done, oh Lord” and then get up and white-knuckle it.  Ultimately, that is what we’re trying to get past.  Giving our agency to God is allowing Him to give us a portion of His power, so long as we stay, waits for it;


And that is the key word.  To give up our free agency is to give to one side or obedience1another our ultimate obedience.  I know what some have said, “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves and we give up who we are” or “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves and we give up all control of our lives” or even “giving up thinking and deciding for ourselves is insane talk!”  There are many who will not think of this as anything but bad.  Thus, all the hate talk against organized religion.  But wait, who are we giving this up to, the minister, the prophet, the Bishop, the Sponsor, the Church?  No, that would be giving control over to someone who is fallible.  How about giving it up and being obedient to a person who can see the beginning from the end, who created all life, who created us, who is all knowing and counts us a his children?

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7: 7-11).

And thus the key to Step 3, through obedience to the words and commandments of God, we turn the care of our life and will over to the persons whom have loved us from the very, very beginning and will love us throughout all eternity; God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

If someone tells you otherwise, they’re hiding from something within themselves.

Tomorrow, the last part; my own experience with Step 3: now it’s personal.

Musings on Step 3: Part 1

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a facilitator in the LDS’s ARP program.  To be a facilitator, one needs to have at least one year of sobriety and be active in the program.  As a facilitator, it’s my job to conduct the check in/sharing time portion of the meetings and to take the new folks under my wing.  I’m also the one with the experience who imparts it to the group.  And experience I have, a just short of a decade’s worth of fighting my demons, addictions, and therapists.  So when the subject of Step 3 was the topic du-jour, well, I must say, it’s one of my favorites.

Step 3: Decide to turn your will and your life over the the care of God the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

In short, it’s about control; that you suck at having any and that you trust someone you’ve not seen in this life to have all of it.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a process and I don’t believe we will ever be able to give up 100% to God.  We’re too mortal to be able to do that.  But developing the attitude is much, much more important.  Step 3 is hard doctrine (very, very hard doctrine).  But it is imperative that we as mortals and/or addicts work this step.  This step is what separated the men (women) from the boys (girls).

But from an addict’s standpoint, this is the worst.  We addicts of all types are addicted in an effort to control something within us.  That could be a feeling of inadequacy to trauma of all types.  So please have empathy for those who find this step difficult.  It’s a lot to overturn years of controlling our ability to not feel to all the sudden, turn over control to God and feel again.  Quite frankly, for me, it was traumatic and relieving at the same time.

Setting aside feeling again (that’s a whole separate post for the future), there are two aspects I’d like to prognosticate on right now.

First aspect, a quote:

I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior. I say to you again that a knowledge of the principles and doctrines of the gospel will affect your behavior more than talking about behavior.
(Washed Clean; Boyd K. Packer, April, 1997 General Conference).

In all the years of therapy, books, study of why I do what I do, I have come to the conclusion that “knowing was controlling” and that was a good thing.  But in reality, relying solely on me changing my behavior through the study of behavior is tantamount to keeping control.  Now I know all about taking my power back, heck, I’ve been immersed in it for years.  But, true conversion from an addict out of control to an addict who is in control means to not solely look for control in psychology.  BALANCE!  There needs to be balance between the temporal, spiritual and the physical.  True control of my addictions didn’t happen until I put my free agency on the Alter of God.

So to depend on the study of one’s psychology as a path to overcoming an addiction, or any other bad behavior is only part of the equation, and cannot stand on its own.  Our spirituality needs to be plugged into the equation to make it complete.  Sorry, there is no other way to get a handle on our behavior.

Christ, when he was speaking to the ancient Americans after all the earthquakes, whirlwinds, death, destruction, and while there was a heavy darkness throughout the land, eapr5xhorted, or even pleaded with those who survived “will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.” (3 Nephi: 13-14).  Isn’t that what happens in our lives?  We have this great shake up, something that forces us to our knees and what are we to do, curse God and die?  How about turning to God, placing our free will on his alter and be healed?

God’s mercy is extended to those who repent.  Let’s do as Malachi said and “prove God” or in other words, try Him, let’s see what He’s capable of.  But remember, we need to be a little patient with Him who knows all just as He has been eternally patient with us.

Second aspect will be tomorrow.  The topic; giving up our free agency.

My Top Three Hated Sayings

So let me start off my second posting my possibly offending the world.   My most hated sayings of all time.  These are sayings that are heard in testimony meetings all the time, thrown out as some lackluster attempt at comfort, an attempt at showin114g some type of false humility (think New Testament Pharisees) or some attempts at showing some self-aggrandizing intellectual, theoretical, or whatever to look or feel smart.

Yes, these are heavily despised by me.  So, here are my top three hated sayings (from horrible to horrific):

3- There is always someone who has worse – How I want to slap every person who has ever said that to me.  My typical answer: “I don’t care!”  That pretty much cements any disdain they had for me.  We all have struggles and trials.  I believe that our trials are especially suited for our own individual progression.  So if I sit here having struggles as a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a sex and porn addict I really don’t care about that other person who has no arms, legs, half a brain, etc.  They have their struggle that, as is promised, they do their best to overcome, then they get qualify for the prize.  It’s no different for me.  I have my struggles and trials that are monumental to me.  I work on these as best I can, learning an attitude of repentance and submissiveness to the Lord’s 146716will, then I to will qualify for the prize.  In the meantime, please, stop comparing me to someone else.

2- If I can do it, you can do it to – What always comes to mind is “well, I’ve been able to drink a full pint of whiskey and not get hung over, well, so can you!”  Seriously, I’m genetically programmed to never get hung over so for me so I’ve done it.  In any case, I don’t care who you are, we’ve been sent here with gifts and talent in various combinations.  Please, understand that I am not you and you are not me.  You have had things happen to you that would devastate and ruin me and vice-versa.  Whenever I speak about my experiences, trials and rehabilitation, I always say that I share this “as a matter of this is what I’ve been through so I understand what you’re going through so decide what the worth is of what I say and do accordingly with it.”  And if you decide to dismiss it all, then you will not offend me one bit because I don’t know your whole story.  Only you do.

1- I feel so sad that I contributed to Christ’s pain at the Garden of Gethsemane – Holy Cow, this is just insane.  This is where some member truly shows how much they don’t understand about the Plan of Salvation.  If you didn’t want to cause so much pain, then you should have decided back in the pre-earth life to go with the other guy.  You decided wisely back then and Christ wants us to accept His give with joy and gladndismayess, not bemoaning reluctance and grief.  Quite frankly, I’ve had such pain and sorrow that when it was lifted from me, I was full of joy and gratitude.  This is what we’re supposed to feel, so get over it and learn.  Just go and read Alma 19: 11-14.  I do believe that King Lamoni was not depressed for all the sins he dumped on the Savior.  Neither was Alma, St. Peter, people who have repented, addicts who through the grace and love of God got a handle on their addictions, Ect, Ect, Ect.

So before you go up to a person who is struggling and tell them they don’t have it so bad, stop, put your hand on their shoulder and say “I love you, we love you, we care about you.”  Before you go off and self loath about you adding to the Saviors suffering, just be filled with joy and give Him and Heavenly Father the one thing they cannot take from you; put on the alter your free will, trust and be obedient to the commandments of God.

I guarantee you will find joy.

About Me and Where I’m Coming From

I am excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for my acts of indiscretions.  Which indiscretions were of such a nature that there really was no other choice for the disciplinary hearing to make.  The bombastic crescendo of sin came to a whimpering end on the evening of my dismissal.  Now, nine years later, I have the benefit of hind-sight as to what happened, why it happened and to try to be of service to others who are just starting or have traversed similar roads as mine. It has taken all this time to become comfortable in sharing some of my story with the world.

Repentnace - 101 BlogHowever, my road has taken some pretty strange and unpredictable turns as well as the “standard” repentance and redemption experiences one expects as they morph from haughty “I’ll do what I want, as I please” to the more humble “thy will be done and while we are on this subject, would you please forgive my bad acts?”  But I believe I’ve traveled a pretty good distance on this road of repentance and rehabilitation where I feel I have some pretty good understanding of what it takes to survive and flourish in the light of the Lord’s healing touch.  The lessons I learned are lessons I’ve heard before all throughout my primary, Sunday school and priesthood years but in hindsight, I never understood until this experience.  I believe this is why whenever I tell anyone in the Church what I’ve learned, I get this “well, no duh” look staring back at me.

Why share?  Well, how many blogs of excommunicated folks have you read that are not designed to malign the church? If anything, this journey has given me a strong loyalty to God and the church with the caveat that the members are quite imperfect and mistakes are made.  That being said, I may communicate some things that I may be critical of, but it should not be construed as displeasure with, nor seeking to change anything about about the Gospel or the Church.  Where my displeasure really lies is with some of the general membership of the church.  Stay tuned for future posting on that subject.  I should also add that I am less critical of the church leadership, especially the local leaders whom, at times, have impossible jobs to do.  Heaven knows I’ve driven them nuts over the years.
So at the beginning of this blog I should point out that I am speaking for my own self and not for all excommunicated folks out there.  That the ideas and doctrinal points are of my understanding and opinion and does not necessarily those of the church.  And by no means am I any type of spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  What I am sharing  is what I’ve learned and experienced while on my road of repentance and my efforts to come back into the fold.  I hope this helps members of this wonderful church to try to understand us excommunicants as well as help those who are excommunicated to not give up on the church, on hope and most importantly, to not give up on Christ.
So without any further adieu, I present my blog to the world.  May it be a help to others as I hope it will be a help to me.