Monthly Archives: May 2016

Progress – Climbing the Mountain

Making Progress: the best way out is always through. It seems like I have been trudging forever. I just want to get to my destination for some much deserved rest. In front of me is a mountain, impeding my progress.  There is a path, but I don’t want to climb this mountain. I’m exhausted. To the right and the left are woods. Maybe if I walk through the woods I will be able to find a way around the mountain.

I walk through the woods for miles, looking for a shortcut. I’m hungry and lost. I have covered lots of ground. Nevertheless, I have not made any progress. I’m no closer to getting to the other side of the mountain than I was when I was first standing in front of it.

I would have been better off if I had used the time and energy to just go over the mountain. It doesn’t matter how fast I climb it. It is not a race. What matters is that I make progress. I may need to take the mountain slowly and rest between steps. I may need to ask the Lord to walk by my side, so that I have His help and strength to enable me to do what I cannot do by myself. But one step up the mountain leads to another and another. Ten steps. Fifteen. Who knows, perhaps there will be a great view, beautiful flowers and a clear fresh spring of water along the way! Regardless, eventually I can get over the mountain and to my destination, if I stop wandering in the woods looking for an easier way.

Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” (A Servant to Servants)

In the case of my mountain, the best way to get to the other side is just to climb it.

  • What mountain are you facing in your life?
  • What have you done to avoid climbing it?
  • What will you do today to help you resume your forward progress?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts: Growth: Life is Like a Mountain RoadProgress – Climbing through the clouds

Image – Copyright: gopfaster / 123RF Stock Photo

Step 7: Overcoming Limitations

In Step 7 of A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, (p. 41), there are three sentences that, when taken together, help us acknowledge and learn the only effective way to remove our limitations.

“Genuine remorse filled our hearts, not only because we had suffered or made others suffer but because we regretted that even in recovery we still could not remove our own shortcomings…”

“We had to surrender every particle of self-sufficient pride and admit that our efforts to save ourselves had been insufficient…”

“We finally abandoned the idea that we could become perfect by ourselves, and we accepted the truth that God desires us to conquer our weaknesses in this life by coming to Christ and being perfected in Him.” (emphasis added)

We cannot remove our own limitations.We cannot remove our own limitations. We can turn to Christ, humbly acknowledge both our shortcomings and our inability to eliminate them and be perfected in Him and by Him.

This important truth comes at a pivotal time in working the Steps. Steps 1-6 are essentially introspective. In these steps we examine ourselves and come to know, accept and understand the reality of who we are, our past behavior and our relationship with the Lord. In Steps 8-12, with the Lord’s help, we do our best to right past wrongs and become the person He created us to be. Step 7 is the fulcrum of the see-saw; the point at which the balance shifts. It is in this step that we learn to adopt true humility, understand and accept our limitations, and ask the Lord for His help with those things we cannot do for ourselves.

We cannot remove our own shortcomings

I certainly tried to remove my own shortcomings. I thought that was what I was supposed to do! Long time readers know that keeping my desk organized is something I have struggled with. A quick glance at a nearby bookshelf turns up 7 books on how to get organized. There have been times when I tried very hard to implement those systems. At other times I put lots of thought and effort into coming up with my own system. None of this feverish activity has resulted in a permanent change. This limitation is a thorn in my side that could stay with me forever.

We can turn to Christ

I am slowly learning how to lean upon the Lord and apply the principles He has taught me in the past to remaining shortcomings, such as my organizational challenges. I am not content with my progress. But I know now, that it is only through Him that I am going to overcome this limitation.

Humbly acknowledge our limitations

It is actually a relief to me to admit that this is something that I cannot figure out and overcome myself. I feel like I have spent years banging my head against the wall and have finally stopped. It is not that I will be satisfied with the mess. Rather, I need to continually seek His guidance, one day at a time. The critical component that is my responsibility is to diligently ask and willingly receive His guidance, and act upon it promptly when I do.

Be perfected in Him and by Him

The scriptures tell me that I must become perfect, or complete, even as the Lord is. I can be neither without Him. As I become one with Him, I can become perfect in Him. If I add one drop of ink to a small glass of water it will become cloudy. If I add one drop of ink to the Caribbean Sea it will still be clear and blue and stunningly beautiful. As I become one with the Lord, together we are perfect. It is because of His perfection, not mine.

  • Have you humbly acknowledged your limitations? What are they?
  • What have you done to become one with Him and be perfected in Him?
  • What will you do today to take a step forward?

Please share your thoughts about this post by commenting below.

Related Posts: One Day At A Time ManagementLearning Life Skills – Your Personal TutorFailure? – Like a Baby Learning to WalkFrom My Prayer Journal: God is My Sculptor


Improving Spiritual Connectedness

When I was a relatively new convert, I was very excited to receive my Patriarchal blessing. Before he gave me the blessing, the Patriarch spoke with me for a little while. I shared with him my desire to feel the Spirit in my life, and my doubt as to whether I had ever actually felt it. I wanted spiritual connectedness to be a part of my daily life. In my blessing, he told me that indeed the Spirit had been and would yet be very much present in my life, and that as I remained faithful I would learn to recognize it.

Recently the theme of “How do I know if I am feeling the Spirit?” and “I rarely feel the Spirit in my daily life like other people do” has come up in several conversations. One woman described how she has recently had some major health challenges and difficult decisions to make, and throughout that process she felt the Lord lifting and even carrying her. Now that she is past the most critical period, she no longer feels the Spirit in the same way, and misses it.

The Spiritual Connectedness Continuum

spiritual connectedness continuum

I think there is a spiritual connectedness continuum along which we fall at different times in our lives.  I found a wonderful talk, from which the following quotes are taken, in which Elder David A. Bednar has explained these concepts.

“As we gain experience with the Holy Ghost, we learn that the intensity with which we feel the Spirit’s influence is not always the same. Strong, dramatic spiritual impressions do not come to us frequently. Even as we strive to be faithful and obedient, there simply are times when the direction, assurance, and peace of the Spirit are not readily recognizable in our lives.” (David A Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” April 2006 General Conference.)

Our choices affect our spiritual connectedness

Cannot feel the Spirit – Separated from God

Elder Bednar explains:

“We should also endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved” (Mosiah 2:36).

“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us.

Listening for the still, small voice

“I recognize we are fallen men and women living in a mortal world and that we might not have the presence of the Holy Ghost with us every second of every minute of every hour of every day. However, the Holy Ghost can tarry with us much, if not most, of the time—and certainly the Spirit can be with us more than it is not with us.

In a devotional Elder Bednar gave at Ricks College in 1999, he mentions four principles that, when applied diligently, can help us improve our ability to create spiritual connectedness in our lives. I highly recommend reading the text of the devotional, but here are the four principles he explains.

  1. We must desire the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
  2. We must invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
  3. We must heed simple promptings.
  4. We must heed promptings quickly.

Spiritual High

From time to time in our lives we experience profound spiritual connectedness. Sometimes it accompanies times of great joy and happiness such as weddings, births, baptisms, blessings, confirmations, etc. It can also accompany times of challenge, difficulty, trial and sorrow such as the death of a loved one, health or financial challenges, etc. When our hearts are open to the Spirit because they are filled with gratitude or because we have turned to the Lord in humility and faith and are in need of His comfort, we can experience a kind of “spiritual high.” This is not a normal state of living, for anyone! It is a peak experience that we should record and treasure. It is personal and private; not to be shared with the world. We do not have these experiences because we seek them, nor as a reward for anything we have done. When we are living day to day in a manner that would invite and welcome the Spirit into our lives we will be able to experience these spiritual highs as the Lord sees fit to bestow them upon us.

How does this relate to recovery?

Have you ever heard someone say at a meeting that they are grateful for their addiction? Newcomers might hear that and think “These people are crazy! Why would anyone be grateful for their addiction?”

When I joined the Church, I learned the answers to the “three questions”: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? I came to understand that my purpose in life was to learn to come to the Lord, partake of the Atonement, and return to live in the Celestial Kingdom with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

What I did not learn was how to do this. When I found the 12 Steps, I started learning how. How to find spiritual connectedness. How to partake of the Atonement. How to receive the power the Lord promises to the faithful in Moroni 7:33.

I am so grateful that I have been blessed to find, in my journey of recovery, a way of living that provides a continual opportunity to listen for, hear and feel the still, small voice, in my life.

  • Where are you on the spiritual connectedness continuum?
  • Have you learned to recognize the influence of the Spirit in your daily life?
  • What can you do today to improve your spiritual connectedness?

Please share your thoughts about this post or other resources you would recommend by commenting below.

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