Throughout the entire journey there is opportunity for learning and growth and development toward the final goal. We see some people who merely travel, having no aim, direction, destination or purpose. Without road maps to guide them, they just travel along the way and in varying degrees pick up such things as will please the eye, tickle the vanities, satisfy the hungers, quench thirsts, satisfy passions. And, when the end of life draws nigh they have traveled but are little if any closer to their proper destination than when they started. Regrettably, some have totally lost their way.
~ Spencer W. Kimball – The Miracle of Forgiveness ~
Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.
~ 2 Nephi 1:23 ~
Recovery is a very difficult and bleak journey. Over the course of the past several years, I have had the privilege of working with men and women as a Substance Use Disorder Professional. Facilitating intensive outpatient, outpatient, relapse prevention, men’s group, early intervention and prevention groups; As well as, conducting assessments, individual sessions, and communicating with courts and probation regarding individuals engaged in treatment. This included working to assist people in accessing needed mental health services, connecting them with employment and vocational resources, accessing community resources for housing, and establishing medical and dental services.
After several years, it has been a privilege and worthy cause. I have also seen tragic results from active substance use. Through all of this experience, countless hours of sitting in counsel with individuals, and silently praying for them – I have come away with one simple truth: Recovery is a true miracle of forgiveness and restoration.
While recovery is very difficult and a bleak journey; it is also a miraculous adventure where individuals discovery their sense of meaning and purpose. They begin working toward right decision making, and resolving to establish and succeed in making their goals a reality. They painstaking chart their very own course toward a destination of healing, restoration, peace, and forgiveness. This is the foundation of my observation in how recovery is a true miracle of forgiveness and restoration. And, in order for this miracle to be experienced and realized in the life of those suffering: it comes down to another fundamental truth and reality that it is a spiritual journey of growth, development, increase in faith and hope, and empowerment to overcome.
It begins when we awaken and work to shake off the chains by which we are bound in order to come forth out of the obscurity of our substance use, dysfunctional and disillusioned life, and past traumatic experiences we have carried into our adult lives. Coming to terms with our need to cooperate with God, we are capable of doing all things through Christ (Phillipians 4:13). That is where our spiritual strength comes from. Our deepening relationship in Jesus Christ. It is also where our own personal recovery journey begins.
Our Spiritual Awakening Ignites Life’s Divine Purpose
The missing key to a successful recovery is how significant and impacting a sense of meaning and purpose has in moving us out of obscurity. Move us out of our own darkness and into the Light of Truth and Love. All too often, we have rejected the importance of spiritual experience toward living a life that has a defined sense of intentional living. Something that I have personally become fully aware of in the past few years. We fail to realize that while we have, unfortunately, rejected God’s divine counsel and guidance; we have also failed to realize His deep unending love toward us (Romans 5:8) where he does not want to permit us to fail and be destroyed. This is evidenced in the nature of how the scriptures have served as warning to us. Our destruction and failures come because we have long permitted ourselves to be given over to those things that destroy us.
Through our spiritual awakening, we come to recognize that God has abundantly confirmed that man is the supreme creation, made in the image and similitude of God and his Son, Jesus Christ (Kimball, p. 3) where we have unlimited potential for progress and attainment. Herein is the premise, I believe, of the first three steps of a 12-step recovery program:
- Coming to the realization of our own failings, captivity, and bondage and the devestation in our lives because of it (Step One)
- Realizing we need something that is greater than ourselves to restore us back to a place of healthy living
- Making the ultimate commitment toward sacrificing our own will and desires over to God’s divine care and providence
Coming to the place of awakening, awareness, acceptance, and assurance – we discover that God grants us the wisdom and courage to manage our urges and desires. Become masters of our false self and our true soul in order to overcome our own frailties and weaknesses. Through God, we gain the wisdom and courage to eliminate all barriers that prevent us from breaking free of our bondage. And, it is through our devotion and loyalty that we begin to follow His divine and wise counsel.
Our Spiritual Journey Begins with our Belief and Faith in God
James E. Talmage remarked, “There is a filial passion within human nature that flames toward heaven.” (Articles of Faith – Chapter 2). Talmage also observes that humanity has a natural propensity toward worshiping:
…his soul is unsatisfied until he finds a deity. When men through transgression fell into darkness concerning the true and living God, they established for themselves other deities, and so arose the abominations of idolatry. And yet, even the most revolting of these practices testify to the existence of a God by demonstrating man’s hereditary passion for worship.
Talmage refers to this as an inborn attribute of mankind that needs demonstration of proof or a question of reasonable logic. The existence of God is proven as evidenced by history and tradition, human reason and intellect, and conclusive evidence through direct revelation (whether ancient or modern).
Without this filial passion toward believing and worshiping God, repentance would have little meaning, and forgiveness would be both unnecessary and unreal (Kimball). Furthermore, if God truly were non-existent – life itself will hold no sense of meaning; and one may not ever derive any sense of purpose in living life. However, ask any person in a true process of recovery, and they may respond that their previous life revolved around the need to satisfy their own cravings and desires. A life without hope is a life not worth living.
Since we come to our own path’s toward healing and restoration, many of us have placed our belief and our life over to the reality that God exists. Not only in the belief that God exists, that He is capable of bringing us through our darkest moments and restore us back to place of peace.
Our Spiritual Journey Requires a Spiritual Compass
In the beginning pages of the Book of Mormon, a family reaches their destination. They have spent a long period of time traveling from Jerusalem toward a better place. This family came to the shores of what is the Red Sea. They were tasked with building a ship. Once this ship was constructed, the family awoke to a curious object:
The scriptures describe the Liahona as a “round ball of curious workmanship” made of brass with two spindles (1 Nephi 16:10). Through their afflictions and experiences on their journey, Lehi and his company discovered their special compass not only would lead them where to go and to “the more fertile parts of wilderness” but it would also reveal “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Nephi 16:16, 29). They also discovered, however, that this miraculous gift worked only “according to the faith and diligence and heed” (1 Nephi 16:28) which they gave to it. If they were slothful, murmuring, or disobedient, the compass ceased to work and they did not progress in their journey. Through repentance, prayer, and obedience, however, they were guided to the promised land (see 1 Nephi 18).
Each of us is on our own personal spiritual journey through the recovery process. We are gifted our own personal Liahona to help guide us. The only way this works is when we are coming to an understanding of the ways of God and walk in obedience to His divine and wise counsel. It is through our faith and diligence we are led. However, if we give ourselves over to those things that have brought us into captivity; we begin to be complacent in our recovery; engage in murmuring, and walk contrary to our core values and beliefs – our compass no longer works.
The challenge is that we ought to work in discovering our personal core values and beliefs. Whereby we derive guiding principles that will help us navigate our own personal recovery program. And, these core values and beliefs are rooted in our faith and hope that is Jesus Christ.
The Straightway Path of Our Recovery
For those who come to a real authentic spiritual experience and awakening may express that it is no surprise in understanding the requirements of God. It also comes readily available to understand that we have tapped into an eternal well of unlimited opportunities and spiritual growth. And, what we gain in enlightenment through God’s sovereign grace depends on our compliance to His standards and requirements. This goes back to our need to fully and sincerely give ourselves over to His divine will and care.
By doing so, we come to experience genuine and real forgiveness from our past failures, behaviors, and offense toward other people in our lives. This is because we are required to fearlessly examine our lives with courage and resolve to accept personal responsibility for our own actions. Take accountability for what we have done in bringing ourselves to the gate of destruction and ruin.
The Blessings of Repentance and Forgiveness is the Miracle of Recovery
Recovery is a process of transforming our lives from an old state of existence into a new creation of beauty, love, purpose, and restoration of Godly character. The key foundation of this process is the blessings of repentance and forgiveness. A genuine, consistent, and continuously work toward ourselves and others. Through God, we process and become aware of those things we have done. Made appropriate confessions toward another, and our Heavenly Father, and made necessary steps toward restitution – where possible.
This is a personal climb a person must make of their own volition. It is not something that is taken lightly. Nor, is it something that is forced in unrealistic time lines. For true repentance and forgiveness to be effective – it is to be done with genuine comprehensive transformation of life. This may require us to face the consequences we have long avoided. Or, accept the reality of the reason we have had to face those consequences because of our behaviors. And, it is an endeavor we are not left alone to follow through with.
Our Heavenly Father shows grace, mercy, and compassion toward us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, He guides us. Through prayer and meditation, we receive personal revelation to help convict us and draw us closer to our promised land of peace and bounty. Through meditation upon the scriptures, we find inspiring examples of how God intervenes and moves people through their darkest and most trying moments of human experience. We find how God restores people who have been brought down to nothing and left in ruins.
Procrastination is prevalent and prevents spiritual growth
Despite our best efforts, procrastination is our Achilles heal in recovery. It is our very nature and human defect. It prevents us from taking full responsibility for our own lives, being personally responsible for how we are feeling, and accepting the reality of our own fears and struggles. This lax of carelessness of our procrastination prevents us from living a devoted spiritually mindful recovery.
We comply with those requirements that we like – all the while discarding the requirements we do not want to adhere to. An individual does not become a valiant warrior in their recovery in order to experience victorious spiritual breakthroughs. It is the main reason I have seen some of my patients falter and fail to achieve and maintain any longevity of abstinence and sobriety. Time and time again, they end up faltering, relapsing, and finding themselves back to the very despair they’ve attempted to fight out of.
Many, including myself, operate under the false presumption that our intentions are good enough and God knows our hearts and minds. While it is true that He knows our hearts and minds – it is our responsibility to fully commit ourselves over to Him in order to follow His divine direction. We either experience real breakthroughs and victories in our recovery; or, we falter and continue to fail ad infinitum.
Another aspect of procrastination is the inherent dangers of delaying our recovery and experiencing personal growth and spiritual development. This appears in our knack to postpone any action we may need to take. We ignore divine direction. And, we fail to realize that this is the time to act on experiencing real spiritual growth and empowerment through our own recovery.
Our Recovery and Spiritual Journey is the Uncrowded Path
The way to a transformed life where one cultivates meaning and purpose through spiritual and mindful living requires commitment. Surrender. Acceptance. And, perseverance. One must choose life of liberty and worth compared to a life of mediocrity and captivity. It is easy to passively walk through recovery. It is easy to keep yourself available for those who continue to bring you back into the throngs of the abyss. It is easy for one to maintain one foot in the old life while attempting to keep the other foot firmly planted in a new life. Yet, without coming to a real spiritual experience: they may not travel along the uncrowded path.
Through our defined sense of meaning and purpose, we give ourselves over to the responsibilities of self toward our Heavenly Father. We give ourselves over to be accountable by those significant in our lives that help encourage and support us. We take full responsibility and accountability that it is our obligation to find meaning and purpose.
Through our commitment to engage in a spiritual and mindful journey of recovery; we come to understand that our time is now. Time to experience freedom. Time to experience healing. It is our time to begin our journey toward a blessed life that is abundant and meaningful. A life worth living through Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.
Are you ready to begin your journey? Do you feel that it is your time to begin a real spiritual and invigorating process of transformation? Are you ready to experience the miracle of forgiveness and restoration through recovery?