I wrote last time in Pain, God’s Megaphone about suicide and the grief that brings to those left behind. Experiencing that pain when my brother-in-law took his life has made me more sensitive to how addictions can destroy lives. That’s why I love the 12-Step Addiction Recovery program that the Church put out last year. It makes me happy that the Church is aware of the struggles some people have and offers a plan of action to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh—drugs, alcohol, pornography, food, sex and other addictive vices that can bind us in darkness and keep us from reaching the light.
Today, I’m highlighting Steps 9 and 10 in the 12-Step Addiction Recovery Plan. You can scroll back through this blog to read more on the first 8 steps if you want (1-Honesty, 2-Hope, 3-Trust in God, 4-Truth, 5-Confession, 6-Change of Heart, 7-Humility, and 8-Forgiveness), or better yet, just visit the Church’s site on addiction recovery to read from the source.
Step 9-Restitution & Reconciliation
When we reach this stage of recovery, we are ready to be like the repentant sons of Mosiah who went about “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done” (Mosiah 27:35).
To do this, we need direction from God so we aren’t impulsive or careless. A spirit of humility and honesty can repair damaged relationships with the Lord’s Spirit to guide us in how to mend these broken bridges. Put away pride (it is a vain and shallow attitude that never brings about any good). Approach each person that has been hurt in a spirit of humility, offering reconciliation, never justification. [If you have serious sins to apologize for, read more about ideas on how to go about making reparation for these on the LDS Addiction Recovery Site.]
Upon completing this step to the best of our ability, we can begin to experience a new life of hope—not in ourselves, but in the love of God. This is when we experience the peace Paul described when he wrote:
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
The Savior Saves
“Men cannot forgive their own sins; they cannot cleanse themselves from the consequences of their sins. Men can stop sinning and can do right in the future, and so far their acts are acceptable before the Lord and worthy of consideration. But who shall repair the wrongs they have done to themselves and to others, which it seems impossible for them to repair themselves? By the atonement of Jesus Christ the sins of the repentant shall be washed away; though they be crimson they shall be made white as wool. This is the promise given to you” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 98–99).
Step 10-Daily Accountability
When we complete the previous steps (which help us learn a pattern of life based on spiritual principles), we are ready for a new way of living. Steps 10-12 will help us maintain our new spiritually minded way of life. Think of them as maintenance steps.
Self-evaluation has been used throughout history. In the Book of Mormon, Alma taught that maintaining a mighty change of heart takes effort. In verse after verse, he indicates that honest, prayerful self-appraisal and immediate repentance must be a continual part of life (see Alma 5:14–30).
To retain what we have gained, we must stay spiritually fit by asking the searching questions Alma suggested to keep us from slipping back into denial or complacency.
- Have you spiritually been born of God?
- Do you exercise faith in the atonement of Christ?
- Can you imagine standing before God and being judged today? What would He think?
- Can you look up to God with clean hands and pure heart?
- If you have felt the love of God, do you still feel it today? If not, why?
- Are you stripped of envy and pride?
- Are you stripped of judgmental thoughts toward others?
- How have you shown your love of God today?
Paying attention to our thoughts and feelings can help us discover any negative beliefs we still might hold. Ask Father in Heaven to remove these. Don’t resort to justifying, rationalizing, or blaming anything or anyone else. That is in our past. We are choosing a brighter future. Our goal will be to keep our hearts open and our minds focused on the lessons the Savior taught.
Taking inventory of our life each day can be done best through prayer. As we plan our day, prayerfully examine our motives. Are we doing too much or too little? Are we taking care of our basic spiritual, emotional, and physical needs? Do we serve others?
Asking these and other questions can help us as we seek balance and serenity in our day. I love the scripture in Psalms 46:10:
Be still, and know that I am God…
Stillness can empower us. Taking time out to seek solitude and peace as we contemplate our life and conduct a self-inventory can help us connect to God…to remember Him…and to receive His inspiration and guidance.
Somewhere I heard someone (my mind has forgotten the who, where and when) compare prayer to the Creation of the world. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, first planned out what would be created on each day. Then Christ went about accomplishing that task and He reported back to the Father when he finished with each day.
With prayer, we can plan with our Father each morning what we will ‘create’ that day. Will we create beauty and kindness…peace and friendship? With His help, we can decide how to improve, repent, and restore peace to relationships.
At night, we report back. Did we serve others as planned? Or did our plans get snared up in thorny paths? Knowing we must report back to our Father each night can provide great positive motivation in making good daily choices and avoiding temptations.
I love this teaching of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve:
Worthiness interviews, sacrament meetings, temple attendance, and other Church meetings are all part of the plan that the Lord provides to educate our souls, to help us develop the healthy habit of constantly checking our bearings to stay on the path of faith. Regular spiritual checkups help us navigate life’s highways and byways. . . .
. . . We can all . . . benefit by looking deep inside our hearts during reverent moments of worship and prayer and asking ourselves this simple question, ‘Am I true?’
The question becomes more powerfully useful if we are completely honest with our answers and if it motivates us to make repentant course corrections that keep us on the path of faith (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 20; or Ensign, May 1997, 17).
Self-appraisal can become a joyous way of life as we let go of fears and overcome temptations one day at a time through the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know it has been valuable to me. When I take time to be still and ponder my choices and direction in life, the Spirit guides me in making course corrections early so I don’t slip off the road when it gets dicey (see Icy Roads Ahead). That helps me have joy.