We’re more than halfway done with the 12 steps to addiction recovery. Here is a summary of all the steps we have covered so far:
Today I want to cover the next two steps:
Just as a caterpillar can transform into a butterfly, so we, through the grace and mercy of our Savior, Jesus Christ, can be transformed into new men and women. After experiencing a change of heart (in step 6)…we become humbled sufficiently to ask God to help us be a new person…the person He wanted us to be all along.
This metamorphosis does not happen without pain. Overcoming and banishing the natural man from our life takes lots of desire, work, and humility. We might stumble, fall and skin our spiritual knees quite often as we take baby steps toward our Savior and learn to fully trust Him.
Humility makes us cry aloud as Alma did: “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me” (Alma 36:18).
In this step, we desire to give up all our sins so we might know God better. We offer our whole souls to Him and ask Him to forgive us and make us in His image. Until we allow Him into our lives through complete humility, the Lord cannot begin such a revolutionary change of our entire character. Humility is a deliberate choice. It means we literally become beggars before God (see Mosiah 2:21; 4:19–20).
Humility means we accept life on God’s terms and wait upon His purposes and His timing—even in the removal of our shortcomings. Like Alma and his brethren when they had burdens cast upon them, we must “submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).
This step requires sacrifice. As we feel the pains of our own rebirth, remember that God’s suffering, not ours, ensures our redemption from sin. Our sacrifice is only a humble reminder of His “great and last sacrifice” on our behalf (Alma 34:14).
A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation (Joseph Smith, comp., Lectures on Faith , 69).
In the past, when I read this quote, I always imagined sacrificing possessions or time to God. But I believe that “all things” refers to sacrificing our weaknesses and sins as well.
To start Step 8, a written list can be helpful. Write down all persons you might have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them. That is an essential part of repentance.
Addictive/sinful lifestyles are like a destructive tornado that wreaks havoc on relationships, leaving much wreckage behind. Seeking forgiveness makes a plan to clean up the mess and rebuild all that can be saved.
Before we can rebuild relationships, we need to identify which ones have been damaged. Writing is a useful tool to do this. Writing feelings down about people we have hurt or been hurt by can help us when we pray to be specific with our Father in Heaven about what we need help with in the forgiveness process. Our prayers might seem insincere at first, but with time (if our efforts are sincere) we will be blessed with a miraculous sense of compassion beyond ourselves.
When we make a thorough inventory of our resentments and acknowledge them to the Savior, we cease to be victims. Resist the temptation to justify feelings or excuse any negative actions in the past. Include in the list those you meant to hurt, and also those you did not intend to hurt. Include any who have passed away and those you have no idea how to contact. Be rigorous and unrelenting in your honesty.
After you have listed everyone you have harmed, add one more name to the list—your own. When you indulged in your addictions/sins, you harmed yourself as well as others.
This step is not an exercise in casting guilt or shame on anyone—either yourself or those on your list. The Savior will lift the burdens of guilt and shame as you take one more honest look at troubles in your relationships and your part in them. By becoming willing to make amends, you benefit from the peace of knowing that Heavenly Father is pleased with your efforts. Even though you may fear that some people will reject your efforts to make peace, do not let this fear keep you from putting them on your list and preparing yourself to reach out to them. The blessings are far greater than the pain.
The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. . . . If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 5:24).
Isn’t this true? None of us are free from sin. What we do with them makes or breaks us. Do we cover them up and hide them (and also judge others more harshly for theirs)? Or do we drop to our knees like the beggars we are and plead to God for Him to take them from us? Free us from our bonds of iniquity?
When we beg, God gladly gives to us. He won’t turn His nose up at us and walk away. He lifts our burdens from our lives.
This has happened to me, and it makes me grateful for His mercy. I will add my testimony to Joseph Smith’s that God’s grace has softened my hard heart and made me more merciful to others…less quick to judge…and more willing to love them for who they are (sins and all).
God be praised for his infinite mercy and wisdom. No matter where we may be in life–whether we are shackled by horrible addictions or wandering happily on our way with little nuisance sins–He is waiting with open arms to save us from ourselves. He is anxious to remake us in His image.
All we need to do is humble ourselves, and forgive others as He so freely forgives us.