I love new beginnings. Each January fills me with energy to make new goals to improve, edify and uplift. In 2015, I walked through steps 1-5 of the LDS Addiction Recovery Program.
Step 6 is fitting for New Year’s Day.
This is when we experience a Change of Heart.
What does it mean to have a Change of Heart?
One of my favorite talks about the Heart is by Elder Renlund. Read it. It’s well-worth the time and effort and will make you think about your spiritual heart much differently.
When we experience a Change of Heart, we are entirely ready to have God remove all our character weaknesses and flaws. The Book of Mormon is full of examples of people experiencing this change of heart. [Again, read it. It’s the best investment of time you’ll ever make. Some great scriptures to start with are: Alma 22:15, 17–18; Ether 12:27; Mosiah 3:19]
While the other steps in this program helped us make outward changes in our lives, the Lord wants to bless us even more. 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)
He wants us not only to avoid sins and addictions, but actually lose the desire to return to them. This is what it means to experience a change of heart.
This step requires us to humble ourselves and admit our need for the redeeming and transforming power of Christ. After all, His atoning sacrifice has enabled us to accomplish each step to this point.
The Lord wants to bless us with a change of disposition that will unite us with Him in mind and heart, just as He is united with the Father. He wants to give us rest from our isolation from God the Father, the isolation that caused the fears which contributed to our addiction/sins. He wants to make the Atonement effective in our life…right now.
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).
Like the prodigal son, a change of heart helps us come to ourselves and awaken to the need to return to our Heavenly Father’s kingdom by allowing Jesus Christ to be our Redeemer.
Whether our addiction has been to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, self-destructive eating patterns, compulsive spending, or another behavior or substance that represents our need to run and hide from stress or challenges, we can come to realize that it all began in our mind and heart. Healing also begins in those places. As we become willing to be changed by coming unto Jesus Christ, we will learn (and believe) in His power to heal.
- Allow the Savior to convert your heart
- Participate in the fellowship of Christ by attending church
- Be willing to be changed so imperfections may be removed through God’s power
I hope you will join me in rejoicing in NEW BEGINNINGS and seek to experience that change of heart Alma talked about in the Book of Mormon. And after we have experienced it, I hope we will remember Nephi’s inspiring words:
My beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life (2 Nephi 31:19–20).
Amen to that. Happy New Year!