When we walk toward the Lord, we are walking into His light. We see Him and we see where we are going. When we walk away from the Lord, we walk away from the light. We walk into the deep dark shadows — into the darkness. (Shared by a participant at a recent ARP 12-Step meeting.)
For some of us, looking back at our lives, it feels like we have traveled so far, so deeply into the shadows that we cannot find our way back to the light.
In a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in April 2012 General Conference, he says:
“…however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
What this means to me, is that no one is too broken for Christ to fix. And frankly, isn’t it kind of prideful to think that I can mess up beyond Christ’s ability to clean up? So what does it take to go from thinking I am beyond the reach of Christ’s light to accepting and applying the Atonement in my life? Working steps 1, 2, and 3.
Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
Whatever thinking or habits have gotten me into this situation are not going to get me out of it. As Albert Einstein put it, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Just to be clear, I cannot fix myself. If I could have, I would have already! But despite my best efforts, I am still broken. The good news here is that once I admit that I am not able to overcome this by my own efforts alone, I am free to to move on to Step 2.
Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
Here is the hard part for those of us who think we are beyond help. We have to become willing to believe two important truths. First, that Christ CAN (is capable of) healing our brokenness. Second, that Christ loves us individually and personally and, despite our flaws and mistakes, that He is WILLING to heal our brokenness.
If I don’t believe these things, I fail to understand a third important truth. Christ already atoned for my sins. He knew over 2,000 years ago what I was going to do and experience and He chose to pay the price to have those things wiped away, at that time! It is done. The question is not will He do it. The question is will I accept the gift? Will I accept Christ’s grace in my life and allow Him to “lead me, guide me and walk beside me” as I turn away from the darkness and walk back into the light of His love? Which brings us to Step 3.
Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The operative word here is “decide.” If I decide to turn my will and my life over to Them, I am surrendering control. To put it another way, I become willing to follow the promptings I receive and the truths I am taught and let go of the outcome. I decide that God’s will for me, whatever it is and even if it is not what I thought I wanted, is better than the results I have been able (and will ever be able) to achieve by my own efforts.
Having made this decision, we become willing to give up our own will in favor of His. Elder Boyd K. Packer says it this way:
“Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him— without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, ‘I will do as you direct,’ is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more” (Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Dec. 7, 1971], 4).
I choose to walk out of the darkness, toward the Lord, and into the light. I choose to rely upon the Lord to direct me. I relinquish control of the outcome. This has enabled me to let go of my addiction, cope with the death of a child, let go of a difficult marriage, weather financial stress, lose a house, start life over in a new part of the country, trust sufficiently to become willing to marry again, become a stepparent to school age children after seven years as an empty nester, love them without expecting reciprocation, and let go of my parents within a year of each other. It works. Each day I thank God for this gift and try to be aware of additional shortcomings and defects as I recognize them, turning them over as quickly as possible.
- In what ways or areas have you been trying to control outcomes in your life?
- Would working the first three steps with these things in mind help you?
- What are you willing to do today to walk out of the shadows and into the light?
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Related Posts: There is No Darkness in the Presence of the Lord, Steps 1, 2, and 3: I Can’t, He Can, I’ll Let Him, Agency – the Heart of Step 3, Change: The AADWAR Process