Healed by the Atonement
yourLDSneighborhood News for Monday, 9 January, 2012
Choosing Christ for Recovery
by Roger Stark
An addict’s mantra is, “I want what I want when I want it,” and his or her emotion-based decision-making process is driven by it. Once an addict finds himself or herself in full-blown addiction, they get lost in themselves and their gratification. But Heavenly Father has a different model in mind for us.
You may not be dealing with an addiction, but you can still apply these spiritual decision-making principles to your life. Ultimately, our choices determine our happiness. How do we choose Christ on a daily basis through even the small decisions? How do we encourage others in our sphere of influence to make righteous choices? We welcome your comments.
An addict’s mantra is, “I want what I want when I want it,” and his or her emotion-based decision-making process is driven by it. The urge to use drugs has become stronger than the will to say “no,” and it results in the continual response of behavior based on placating self. Once addicts find themselves in full-blown addiction, they don’t concern themselves with the needs of others. They get lost in themselves and their gratification.
Heavenly Father has a different model in mind for us.
Elder James E. Faust said, “In this life we have to make many choices. Some are very important choices. Some are not. Many of our choices are between good and evil. The choices we make, however, determine to a large
The spiritually based decision-making process Elder Faust describes (with Nephi’s help) leads to a life where each choice is made freely, without the interference of compulsion. One is able to “act for themselves and not to be acted upon.”
In a spiritually based decision-making process the will does not get compromised. Instead, an individual can make “choices we can live with and grow from” that avoid the difficult consequences of addiction.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught what a spiritually based decision-making process looks like. He suggested the following six questions as a guide in decision-making:
1. Is it contrary to the revealed will or commandments of God?
2. Could it harm any individual, family or group?
3. Would the decision make (me) a better person?
4. Could it retard or injure spiritual or moral growth?
5. Could it create unhappy or unpeaceful memories?
6. Could a blessing be derived from this particular action?
Elder Boyd K. Packer suggests more help in establishing a spiritually based decision-making process, especially when making major decisions:
“Work it out in your own mind first. Ponder on it and analyze it and meditate on it. Read the scriptures. Pray about it. I’ve come to learn that major decisions can’t be forced. You must look ahead and have vision. Ponder on things a little each day…measure the problem against what you know to be right and wrong and then make a decision. Then ask Him if the decision is right or if it is wrong.”
Making this change in the decision-making process is a critical step for addicts seeking recovery. The “how” of it, however, often feels impossible. Compulsions reinforced over time can be very difficult to break or extinguish. The will to change becomes very weak.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland provides an answer in his directions for bringing one’s self to Christ:
“We must change anything we can change that may be part of the problem. In short we must repent….We thank our Father in Heaven we are allowed to change, we thank Jesus we can change, and ultimately we do so only with their divine assistance. Anything we can change we should change, and we must forgive the rest. In this way our access to the Savior’s Atonement becomes as unimpeded as we, with our imperfections, can make it. He will take it from there.”
As the addict begins to “change anything we can change that may be part of the problem,” a move from selfishness to accountability occurs. Accountability allows for “access to the Savior’s Atonement,” as Elder Holland says, and “it becomes as unimpeded as we…can make it.”
The atonement is the healing, through divine assistance, that strengthens the will and diminishes the urges of addiction. These changes result in a transformation in the decision-making process, moving it from being emotionally based to spiritually based.
In the process of recovering from addiction, Roger Stark became a licensed addiction counselor and wrote the LDS recovery guide The Waterfall Concept, A Blueprint for Addiction Recovery. He blogs at his recovery website, http://waterfallconcept.org. If you have any questions about addiction, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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