Monthly Archives: February 2014

Forgiveness – Working Step 8

Step 8: Forgiveness

Sometimes when we think of Step 8, we focus exclusively on making a list of all the people we have harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them.  That is, of course, a critical piece of the repentance process and the work we are doing with the Steps. But it is interesting to see that the ARP Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing first devotes significant time to the importance of identifying those we need to forgive and forgiving them.

Why are we asked to focus on forgiveness first?  The Guide says that it is important to do this so that we are not distracted by resentments when we try to list those we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them. That is an important reason, but I think there is another.

We are about to ask someone to forgive us.  We are about to ask someone we have harmed in some way to accept our apology and let go of any feelings of resentment they might have towards us.  That might be a very hard thing for some people to do.  Perhaps they have been hurt multiple times by us. Perhaps we have promised to change in the past, maybe more than once.  Perhaps there is broken trust between us that will be difficult to rebuild.

If I have just been through the forgiveness process myself, I can have empathy for those to whom I am trying to make amends.  I can look them sincerely in the eye and tell them that I know I am asking a hard thing of them. And I also will know how relieved they will be when the burden of resentment they have been carrying is lifted.

What resentments are you carrying that you are ready to let go of?

Overcoming Discouragement: The Committee in My Head

Image of a discouraged person's head with committee members saying things at the same time coming out of the top.You know those voices you hear in your mind sometimes? Occasionally they are positive and uplifting but most are discouraging and disparaging. Some actually seem to echo voices of real people, often from our past – former teachers, leaders, parents, family members or friends. Others seem to come from nowhere. Even the voices of people who love us can sometimes give us bad advice or negative feedback.

  • “You are so clumsy.”
  • “You can’t do that – you are too dumb.”
  • “You can’t ask God for help with that.”
  • “You’ll never be good enough.”

Unfortunately these voices can make it hard for us to think clearly and move forward. Just when we think we have a plan and are ready to take a risk and try to do better – to do something new – to challenge ourselves, to overcome discouragement, one (or more) of those voices will tell us that we are doomed to failure.

I call those voices the “Committee in My Head”. I imagine them sitting around a conference table expressing their thoughts. Freely. Sometimes at the top of their lungs. Other times in a persistent whisper.

I have learned an interesting thing about my committee over the years. It is my committee, and I get to decide who is on it!  If someone on the committee is discouraging me, I can fire them!  I can tell them that they are no longer welcome on my committee and their advice is no longer needed. If they come back, I can refuse to let them in or listen to them.

Even better, I can deliberately choose new voices to invite onto my committee to drown out the old discouraging ones. How? By reading great books or blogs; by finding mentors who I trust and who have created the kind of life I want; by attending meetings and making phone calls and using the other tools of the program. I can fill my committee with cheer-leading encouraging voices.

  • “You can do it!”Image of an orderly committee meeting with happy participants.
  • “You are awesome!”
  • “Give it one more shot.”
  • “Maybe you should pray for the Lord’s help and try again.”
  • “Think of how much progress you have made!”
  • “God loves you and I love you, too!”

If I am going to have a committee giving me advice it might as well be good advice!  And advice that will help me overcome discouragement, not create it.

  • Do you have a committee in your head that sometimes offers negative thoughts or ideas?
  • Do you let these thoughts hold you back from doing what you would like to do?
  • Do you believe that you can learn to recognize and “fire” the voices that are holding you back?
  • What voices would you like to invite to join your committee?
  • What will you do today to let go of what is holding you back and nurture and support yourself in moving forward?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts: Help: Encircled about in the Arms of His LoveFocus: Riding through the Boulders

Overcoming Fear – the Invisible Fence

Image of dog bounding across yard. One way to keep a dog in the yard without tying him up is to install an “invisible fence.”  This consists of a wire which is buried around the perimeter of the yard and a collar that the dog wears.  The collar has a radio receiver that picks up a signal if the dog gets too close to the wire.  When this occurs a mild “correction” (shock) is triggered to let the dog know not to go any further.  Most dogs can be trained to learn the boundaries and not to get too close to them.  Why?  They don’t like being “corrected!”  In fact, after a while, you might even forget to turn on the fence, and the dog might never even realize it.

Supposing, however, that the dog has a boy, a boy he loves and would protect with his life.  Suppose further that the boy is being attacked by the neighborhood bully just outside of the fence.  Do you think there is a good chance that the dog would defend his boy even if it meant that he had to endure the “correction?”  Why?  Because his reason to cross the fence is more important and more urgent than his reason not to.

Most of us also have an invisible fence. We call it our “comfort zone.”  One way or another we have learned that when we get too close to the limits of our comfort zone we get this nasty “sick” feeling. I may gaze longingly out past the limits, daydreaming about what I could achieve or accomplish or do … if only I wasn’t afraid to try.   I may feel frustrated at the limitations I have imposed upon myself, but I am too afraid of the “correction” I might receive (such as rejection, criticism, failure or ridicule) if I were to get too close to the line.

Just like the dog, it takes a reason more important to me than my fear to get me to cross the line; something I want badly enough to risk getting hurt.  Sometimes when I finally step out of my comfort zone I discover that someone forgot to turn on the fence, and, other than the butterflies in my stomach, I receive no “correction” at all!  Then there are times when someone does criticize or reject me, or I do try something and “fail” the first time.  But if I just keep working on it, what I come to find out is that the limits of my comfort zone have expanded and I have lived to tell about it.  In fact, after a while I may discover that pushing on the limits of my comfort zone has become a game I play with myself, receiving enough joy and pleasure in setting goals and reaching them to outweigh the discomfort or pain of the growth process.

What is your reason – your dream? Is it big enough to help you overcome your fear?  If it is a righteous desire of your heart, the Lord will help you achieve it.  He may not just give it to you.  It may come in the form of smaller experiences, perhaps even uncomfortable ones, which strengthen you and prepare you so that when the opportunity does present itself you are ready to act upon it.  Do you need help in overcoming fear? Find your dream.  Think it through. Write about it.  

The Lord loves us.  He doesn’t toy with us.  In Moroni 7:33 we find this promise:

“And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.”

Become willing to follow His guidance and counsel, walking in faith, so that he can give you the power to achieve the righteous desires of your heart.

  • What are you afraid to try?
  • What would help you to overcome your fear?
  • Will you pray for that help?
  • What will you do today to push out the limits of your comfort zone?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts: Failure? – Like a Baby Learning to WalkFear: the Enemy of Progress and RecoveryLearning Life Skills – Your Personal TutorFocus: Riding through the BouldersThe Quest for Perfection – Reflecting on Genesis 17:1


Forgiveness: Left on the Cutting Room Floor

Image of old clips of film laying on the floor. Jeremiah 31:34

“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Even though I work my program and share the hope and the good news that through the power of the Atonement we can receive all that we need from the Lord to be cleansed and draw near to Him, I sometimes find myself dwelling on my shortcomings rather than my progress. It seems especially difficult to let go of past mistakes and forgive myself despite having a sure testimony that the Lord has forgiven me.

So what are the implications of the Lord’s promise in Jeremiah 31:34 that He “will remember their sin no more”?

I imagine myself standing at the judgment bar with the Lord standing by my side as my Advocate.  The movie of my life is playing.  Scene after scene plays out on the screen.  Some scenes surprise me – I had forgotten all about those things.  Sometimes I know what is coming next, and the thought of having to watch it in front of everyone makes me cringe.  Wait! What? We jumped right over that scene! Hooray!

What happened? That scene was left on the cutting room floor. Why? Because once I had repented and the Lord had forgiven me, he “remembers it no more”. That is forgiveness! If he doesn’t remember it, it cannot be a part of the movie of my life! My movie has been edited and all the bad parts for which I have repented – all the parts that fill me with shame and guilt – have been removed.  I may remember them, in order to protect myself from making the same mistakes again, but the Lord has forgiven and forgotten.

Divine forgiveness – good news indeed!

  • What part of your life do you hope will be a scene left on the cutting room floor?
  • Have you done all you can to fully repent of it?  What do you still need to do?
  • You may remember, to keep yourself from making the same mistake again, but have you forgiven yourself?
  • What will you do today to forgive yourself and move on?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.


The Quest for Perfection – Reflecting on Genesis 17:1

From My JournalGenesis 17:1 “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”

Lord, you know how imperfect I am! Why would you command me to be perfect?  Aren’t you setting me up to fail?

“I command thee to be perfect. There is nothing wrong with working toward that goal. There are two hazards along the path to be aware of:

First, that, unable to achieve perfection in some area you might become paralyzed and unable to act at all.

Second, that, falling short of perfection, you will be vulnerable to Satan’s malicious whispers, planting doubt about your divinity and your eternal potential.

Avoid paralysis and turn away from Satan and your quest for perfection will lead you to me.”

  • Have you ever found yourself paralyzed by fear of failure and unable to act?
  • Have you ever thought that you would never be good enough?
  • Write about how the ideas in this post affect your thinking about your own experiences with being imperfect.
  • What will you do today to avoid or overcome the two hazards mentioned?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related posts: Overcoming Perfectionism: the “Good Enough” PrincipleOne Day At A Time ManagementLack of Self-Discipline or Perfectionism?

[Note: For more information on the difference between becoming perfect and perfectionism see the talks listed on my Resources page under “Perfectionism”.]