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The necessary pain (and joy) of recovery
By josh
9/29/2006 2:33:21 PM
Step 1 - Action Step — Become willing to abstain
I've kind of done the 12 steps piecemeal up until now. When I started attending the meetings they were on step 5, so I wasn't really sure where to start. I sort of started on step 1, sort of on step 5, and I haven't really been diligent in following the steps thoroughly and in order. I have decided that although I feel as though I have come a very long ways in the past two months, that I am going to start with step 1 and thoroughly and methodically go through the steps.

With that I started (again) with step one yesterday. There was a sentence that really stuck out to me. "People say individuals finally become willing to obstain when the pain of the problem becomes worse than the pain of the solution." Certainly I knew in my heart the pain I would cause my wife by doing what I knew I had to do to embrace the solution, and that definitely deterred me from doing what I had to do. It was so much easier, or so it seemed, to keep it hidden. Looking back, what a farce that was! Yes it was hard to come clean, but it was absolutely essential, and so many wonderful things have followed.

Thinking about this sentence, I think it is defintely true for those who come forward completely by their own will. I am somewhat ashamed to say that for me, I didn't come forward completely on my own. It was my wife asking me about it that brought it out in the open. I take comfort in the fact that at least I was honest with her, as I promised myself I would be if she ever asked about it (again), but I did not bring it up - she did. What a debt I owe to her for starting that painful conversation! She knew what it would mean for her if I answered that I was having problems, yet she also knew of the greater good of helping me recover. Like Eve, she partook of a very bitter fruit first, seeing that there was "no other way" and then got me to partake of the bitter fruit of admission and confession. But how sweet have been the fruits of repentance since then! I feel as Lehi, having tasted of the fruit of the tree representing the love of God.

There has certainly been pain in the solution, but just as God blesses us beyond any measure of what we deserve, so has the joy of repentance far transcended the pain. I feel to exclaim as Alma, who stated, "And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my sould was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!" (Alma 36:20). It is interesting that in the chiastic form that Alma 36 is written in that this verse and the few preceding it fall in the center, the emphasis and climax of the whole story - this is what it is all about. And the story of Alma teaches us that that joy continued throughout his life, whereas the pain, at least in its extreme measure, was taken from him, he did not carry it with him - it did not continue to drag him down. Truly this made the joy, in the long run, much MORE exceeding, not just AS exceeding, as was his pain.

There is joy in recovery. It is not just a frustrating psychological ordeal and constant exercise of denial and willpower. The Lord will truly bless you with joy if you do what He wants you to do, and in most cases, what you already deep down know you need to do. Someone in a recovery meeting once gave the analogy of a dragonfly stuck in the skylight. The dragonfly kept beating against the skylight, for he didn't realize he was only kept in captivity by a thin, transparent, but nonetheless impenatrable pane of glass, teasing him with a glimpse of desired freedom. But truly, it was not the pane of glass, but the "pain" of the solution that kept him in bondage. He needed to first *descend* to get out of the corridor leading to the skylight, and only then would he realize that freedom was all around him, and then his altitude would be limitless.

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"In a decaying environment, the mind is the last redoubt of righteousness, and it must be preserved even amid bombardment by evil stimuli. Christ is competent to see us through, “for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” As promised, He will make either “a way to escape” or a way “to bear it”."

— Neal A. Maxwell

General Conference May 1987