“In this symphony that is my life, God is not content to be a member of the audience or stage crew. He is not even content to be the conductor. He wants to be the composer.” That quote is from the book The Continuous Atonement, this post is about how I learned how to trust God, and how I continue daily to try my best to live in His will for me so I can continue to stay joyful and live the plan of happiness that He continues to show me. As you read this don’t separate yourself because you are not an addict, I write these posts in a way that will further the truthfulness of the Gospel but more importantly how to apply the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ constantly and daily. As you read this post reflect on whether you are allowing God to be the composer or if you are only allowing him to be a member of the audience, or have you not even given Him a ticket to the show?
One of my best friends from high school ended up entering the same treatment center I work at now. He is very eloquent with words and his story is so inspiring because not only did he have to fight addiction He had to basically change every single thing in his life to live a sober life and set boundaries with people who he loves and love him but weren’t helpful for his early recovery. I had him write his thoughts about step 3 and turning his will over to God, and I love love love how what he says about it being a decision, because once you “made a decision to turn your will and live over to the care of God” that decision is an enormous step into the freedom recovery brings.
This is what he wrote;
“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
Step 3 was the time in my life when I finally stopped struggling against everything and decided to go with the flow of the Universe for better or worse.
“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” It’s a line from Brad Pitts character in Fight Club. I feel like it describes my Step 3 decision perfectly.
I’d already lost my career, my partner, my health, my friends, my money and my family. I had lost the ability to even be content in my own skin without drugs. I had nowhere to go, and nothing to do with myself. So, finally, I gave up and decided to let God, The Universe work in my life.
The moment I did that it was a Thursday night. I was in intensive outpatient treatment and had a few days clean. I was withdrawing hard and felt like dirt. After we got out of treatment for the night, I was hell bent on scoring dope. I would start driving to Salt Lake to go get high, but for some reason, something that night told me it wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. I decided to go to an NA meeting at the Catholic Center at Weber State University, a meeting I’d never been to before.
So I took out my cell phone and deleted my last hookup for dope that I’d been hanging on to. I made a decision that night at that meeting to turn my will and my life over to God no matter what and to do whatever work He wanted me to, to accomplish His will.
It was a deeply satisfying and relieving feeling. As someone who thinks he’s pretty clever, and is diagnosed OCD, I had up to that point been going a million miles an hour in my head trying to outsmart everyone and everything around me, constantly trying to control things and manipulate my body, mind and surroundings into being some distorted version of what I thought they should be. When I gave up, and “gave it to God” that first time, that insanity stopped for me. The desire to use was lifted at that point and my cravings went away. I became willing to go to any lengths for my recovery and for God’s will for me.
Every day for the past 15 months, I ask God what his will for me is. I say “God, I love you, thank you, please help me understand your will for me and give me the power to carry that out.” I think this prayer in the morning, whenever I’m faced with a tricky decision or when I’m in fear. Whenever I speak in public, share at a meeting, work with another addict or even when I’m nervous for a date or interview, I say “God, please just let me let this go how you want it to.” And I know it will turn out perfectly every single time, because that has been my experience. God’s will, the natural flow and order of the Universe is perfect and bigger than me than I can comprehend. When I aspire to set my ego aside and be part of that flow, miraculous and beautiful things happen in my life.”
He is a spiritual giant, right? I am so grateful we were able to rekindle our friendship through recovery. The only thing I regret doing with Him in recovery is sober karaoke at a fundraising dinner for the treatment center we both attended.
When I think of trusting in God I think of it has a two-way street. I taught relief society this Sunday and there was a comment made from a woman in the class that had never thought of “having God abide with AND also me abide in Him”. God is constantly waiting for us to turn to Him to know what He wants you to do to embark on His plan of happiness for you. This plan is constantly there but instead of thinking “please Lord abide with me”, I see it as remaining or turning to Him to find the comfort, peace, and love I long for when I am tormented, going through a trial, finding it hard to love someone, finding the strength to forgive, or just simply day to day ups and downs.
When I worked this step 3 the first time I read my assignment aloud to a group of people I was in treatment with, when I finished the person facilitating the reading group said to me “are you really ready to complete step 3 because it is a huge step.” To me and with my pride still in full swing I was like “um yes that was easy.” Step 3 is a DECISION to turn your will and life over to the care of God. At that time, I was ready, my thoughts consisted of mostly “ya God here ya go it is total chaos why don’t you have it for a minute”. When in reality the staff member at the treatment facility that day was right, it is a HUGE decision to turn our lives over to God. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Heavenly Father has a plan of happiness for all of us CONSTANTLY, it is our choice do the things necessary to obtain that happiness.
My will in active addiction was wild and crazy, thoughts and actions mimicked behavior that was irrational and insane. I didn’t know what I was doing or thinking half the time other that when and how I would obtain pills next so I could escape the insanity that was my life. I justified, defended and rationalized my behavior and actions to everyone, especially my husband. This step of trusting God and finding His will for me is constant, I work every day, and basically every minute to stay in His will.
At the very beginning of recovery all I knew about God’s will for me was that He didn’t want me to use mind altering substances, He didn’t want me to lie, He didn’t want me to cheat or steal, but all I could think of in those early days were what He did not want me to do, so what the heck DID He want me to do.
What I began to do were the simplest of things and yet all of the little changes and choices I began to make impacted my faith and confidence in God immensely and I believe that because I began to choose right action, behavior and thoughts Heavenly Father was giving me a portion of hope, faith, and more significantly sanity back “line upon line”. I began reading my scriptures, mostly the Book of Mormon and New Testament to learn of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. This brought faith to my life of the reality of Christ and what He did and what He suffered and endured for me, it brought so much trust and an additional reality that I can be free from my past that I felt shackled to and I could rid the scarlet letter I felt addiction and all that came with it had plastered to me. I began to pray, my prayers started out as pleading for help, to restore peace and sanity in my life and also in my husband’s. But as I continued to pray and meditate daily my prayers turned into conversations with Heavenly Father as though he were sitting right there by me. The trust I gained from prayer was amazing. In high school soccer, I had a coach teach us to meditate we did it every practice and for long periods of time until we could train our minds to tell our bodies to relax and focus. Before each game we would lay on our back and he would say “this is what relaxation feels like”, his theory was that if we weren’t stressed we could play to the best of our ability. Now as I relate that to prayer and meditation that I do daily aloud, silently, and with my family that feeling of relaxation enters my life. I sometimes get anxious when I think of my cringe worthy past, when I think of something in the near future that will make me uncomfortable, or sometimes for no reason. This is when the daily practice of prayer benefits me most, it isn’t something new or uncomfortable and the trust I have found in prayer can bring instantaneous peace, the trust I have that my Heavenly Father can calm the storm that is my life so quickly is truly awe inspiring.
I began attending church spiritually, I sort of continued to attend church in active addiction but only physically. When I started attending church spiritually what I mean is I was there to feast upon the words that were spoken from members who prayerfully prepared and because of their preparation I heard what the Lord wanted me to hear and because of this change in my church attendance I longed for church every week. I remember a week I went to church and during sacrament the hymn that we sang was “I believe in Christ” the lyrics pierced my soul that I just burst into tears and I still cry every time I sing this song when it gets to the words “I believe in Christ; He ransoms me. From Satan’s grasp He sets me free, And I shall live with joy and love in his eternal courts above… I believe in Christ; He stands supreme! From Him I’ll gain my fondest dream; And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain”.” Church attendance with an attitude of wanting to grow spiritually, draw nearer to our Savior, and know what the plan of happiness is for us, can and is found when we DESIRE it. I am so grateful I changed my attitude toward church attendance and now go purely to renew my convents through the sacrament and listen to what God wants to tell me through His disciples and my fellow ward family members. I am grateful because I have a pure knowledge that Christ ransomed me from Satan’s grasp and the tool Satan used was addiction, now because of this belief in Christ I live with joy.
Next basic principle was I began following the word of wisdom strictly. I obviously started by not abusing any prescription medication, but I also followed a program of total abstinence from anything mind altering (Nyquil, Benadryl, Unisom, Sudafed, a lot of different allergy medications, etc., I think the list of medication I do and could take is shorter than drugs I can’t/wont) I did this because it was part of the program that I learned from the treatment center and it is researched based that if you alter your mind with any of such medications it can trigger cravings and ultimately return you to wanting to use your drug of choice, more creating an obsession to return to the substance that is my drug of choice. If you are an addict and you are reading this but you aren’t addicted to my same drug of choice, I’ll parallel it to pornography. If you your porn of choice is very graphic, an abstinence program for you would be not viewing any material where a girl is in a bathing suit, lingerie, or fitness clothing that is very revealing. As abstinence is my program I truly believe that God would rather me not even “chance it”. I would rather steer clear and have a huge boundary rather than live on the edge and have a possibility to crave opiate medication. Along with following the basic principle of the word of wisdom I stopped drinking an occasional coffee and made sure to follow priesthood counsel when I chose to drink tea occasionally. The word of wisdom is basically all good things in moderation, I began to eat healthy again and made sure I was fueling my body in a way that paralleled the word of wisdom. These simple things I do and started doing in early recovery have blessed my life because I have felt so strong physically and mentally, I always feel clear headed and I feel as though I can push myself physically running or at the gym.
Last basic principle is I started a moral inventory that I check myself at the end of the day, every night and see what weakness I used most to cope with that day, I notice my wrongs and if they are toward others I quickly make it right with them “clean up my side of the street” essentially. As I focus on these fragilities I ask Heavenly Father to help me practice the strength that is the opposite of that weakness and I strive daily to turn my weaknesses into strengths, I have seen Him time and time again do this. I actually see it daily as I notice myself becoming a better person “one day at a time”.
Some of the things I did had nothing to do with whether or not I liked to do them or they made me feel good, because nearly 50% of the things I began to do felt uncomfortable and odd, I felt out of my shell and I didn’t like that. I think that is why all of these things I began to do brought me such an amazing complete trust in God because I placed myself on the straight and narrow, it isn’t an easy place to live, but the blessings that flooded my life made that difficult road I was walking and all of the small and simple things worth it. Because of the covenants I have made with God exist if I do my part He is bound to do His. Something that is astounding to me is that slowly, about 6 months of clean time I had gone from an 8 on a craving measurement of 0-10 to a 0… ZERO. I had no cravings for drugs, I had no craving to use anything mind altering. Triggers for me are going to places where I have to socialize with other (even though I have been told I am a social butterfly), lack of sleep- if I go several days on little sleep and get over exhausted I am triggered to want to just sleep, fights with my husband- if we fight like a good mean worded fight I get triggered to escape the emotion, and of course physical pain- if I am in a great deal of pain I get fleeting thoughts of an exact way to take away the pain. But the amazing part is that I haven’t craved anything mind altering in nearly two years. That right there is a huge reason I trust God and His power, because I thought I would go my whole life craving substances and endlessly white knuckling sobriety.
I met with a member of the stake presidency who is one of my best friend’s dad and he counseled me to make a pact with God, tell Him that I would do my part and try my extreme hardest to follow all of His commandments and in turn I have been blessed beyond measure. I am grateful for that meeting early in recovery because I reflect on it always when I feel like neglecting something small or simple, remembering that God will bless me when I just persevere during the lulls of life.
Here are some lyrics about choosing God’s will and not our own:
We all know life can get hectic
But if you live in the second,
You exist in the present
And that's how you stay connected
Go through good times and hardships
And if you learn to accept it
And know that every struggle in life,
Is there to teach you a lesson
It's times like this that make you
It's always the darkest part of the night, right before the sun has it's break through
The spirits there to knock you down,
But if you make that the end
You will never know the beauty
Of being able to stand up again
And face it, with patience,
The Pace set is dealing
With judgements and hatred,
Depressed hopeless feelings
But I've been told,
You only create your own ceilings
Life is limitless,
And knowing this is what the spirit is
I love the all these words and I really love Macklemore, like a lot, when he sings about addiction and recovery it always hits me hard and feels like a warm blanket. That’s real life I am quoting Macklemore and the Book of Mormon in the same post. But where he says you create your own ceiling I think Heavenly Father sees this, He sees us lose trust in Him and His plan and He sees us stop our own growth. When we put our trust in God and turn our will over to Him whether it’s by action, thoughts, or behavior, that ceiling we created lifts off, that wall we put up is knocked down and we press forward and progress in the right direction or if we have stunted our potential by CHOOSING not living in His will, simply turning our will back over to him our potential expounds back to eternal in nature and He places us back in the plan of happiness.
Alma 19:6 “Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness--yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God”
I was in a spiritual death and overcome by the darkness and didn’t believe or trust in the power of God, this story is talking about King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon who raised from the dead after 2 days. He came back with a powerful knowledge and light because in his brief time in the Heaven he saw how loving God is and profoundly knew that Christ would come and Atone for our sins.
I use this story and post that scripture because I was king Lamoni I was under a dark veil of unbelief. Now as king Lamoni I built my testimony on rock solid ground of the truthfulness of the gospel and more importantly the plan of happiness that I feel I am living in right now! Like the king my soul has been infused with light and even in my natural mortal state I have so much joy.
I asked my best friend to tell me her thoughts and observations of how I began to trust in God and how I continue to decide to trust Him. This was her response; “Your positive attitude based on faith is because no matter what trials have come your way, you know the plan and know that Heavenly Father will see you through whatever it is He needs you to do. I watch as you strive to live by Gods will for you and the evidence is how you are quick to make amends, acting on your promptings, testifying if all you've learned as you've gained that knowledge and trying to build and lift others. You are (usually) (haha I say that because we all have our days and you're human) happy to be around because of your trust in God and His plan. I find that so refreshing because a lot of people say they trust God but don't follow through with the faith and actions that what His will is will work out (even if that isn't right now it will be ok eventually). Your daily inventory and that you are still working the recovery steps to this day... it's become a life mission for you instead of just getting clean and that is a testament to all those around you how much you value your recovery and what Christ has done for you. It's a personal thing but many take it for granted. You prove that you are grateful not that you need to prove anything to anyone but I think by living in His will everyone around you can see Christ's light and have hope they can too.”
Everyone deserves a friend that will say such kind beautiful words to and about you. Love you bestie!
I have turned and continue to turn my will over to God, it isn’t simple and easy all the time but it definitely is “an easier, softer way of living”. But more importantly I trust him with my whole soul, heart, and fiber of my being that when I get bruised, hurt, angry, jaded, lost, hopeless, feel as though a trial was dealt to me that I cannot handle, He is all knowing and all of it was meant for me to grow closer to Him. It makes me think of the lyrics “I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me”, because all of what I have been through has made me exactly who I am meant to be and I am better, stronger, and so much closer to God and my Savior Jesus Christ and I am grateful I have the bruises that have made me braver. All of what we learn in this earthly life matters because we are duty bound to become and learn how to live as Christ lived, we will always fall short but the point is that we continue to learn of Him and keep trying, His grace is sufficient for the rest.