Saturday, August 04, 2007

Step 6: Change of Heart

KEY PRINCIPLE: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

During a recent priesthood lesson on integrity, I opened a can of worms into the discussion by bringing up online file sharing and piracy. I'm guessing that mohos who blog fit well into the category of those who would be tempted to do some online file sharing. They're techno-savvy, often musically inclined, etc.

I had a technology industry job once where my coworkers were extremely capable at... well, hacking. They had a good time breaking into the county courthouse's network to find out which of our coworkers and superiors had been arrested and why. Ok, that's a little off-topic, but the memories... Anyway, we also had a large library of illegally copied software, music, and movies going around. I've always gone through cycles with such things--indulging and then deleting it all in a fit of remorse... only to start doing it again later.

Enter: step 6.

It's not just about pornography anymore. [That's happily in part because I haven't been nearly as tempted with it lately. But, I'm sure there will be times of extreme temptation down the road at some point, so I continue with the steps.] Having a changed heart extends its influence past that issue to every issue of my life. Do I want what God wants? I need to desire not just to avoid copied music and pornography and... whatever the case may be... but I need to actually lose the desire to return to them.

How does one lose the desire for sin? Especially if that desire has become seemingly hard wired in my nervous system? Oh yeah, I guess that's the whole meaning of an addiction and the whole challenge of defeating it.

The Lord wants to bless you with a change of disposition that will unite you with Him in mind and heart, just as He is united with the Father. He wants to give you rest from your isolation from God the Father, the isolation that caused the fears which contributed to your addiction. He wants to make the Atonement effective in your life, here and now.

As you yield to the promptings of the Spirit and look to the Savior for salvation, not only from addiction but from character weaknesses, you can be assured that a new disposition or character will grow out of your willing heart. A growing desire to be sanctified by God will make you ready for a change in your very nature.

The manual points out the propensity people feel to take their struggles head on, by themselves. And it points out that that approach is precisely why people fail to overcome their addictions time and time again. I know I need "a higher power" involved in the mix, but when it comes down to the time to submit to God, I'd rather go amuse myself elsewhere. I'd rather stay home from church, read blogs, watch TV, or pretty much anything rather than study the scriptures and pray with real intent.

“No matter what the source of difficulty and no matter how you begin to obtain relief—through a qualified professional therapist, doctor, priesthood leader, friend, concerned parent, or loved one— no matter how you begin, those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments” (Richard G. Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 9; or Ensign, May 1994, 9).

Although there are many possible roads to addiction recovery, I think for me the only one that will work is one that involves--REALLY involves--Christ.


Forester said...

At what point does something become an addiction? I don't think I'm addicted to porn or masturbation, but I do participate in these things every so often. I don't feel a need very often to participate in these things and in most cases the porn is more offensive than enticing. I really do believe we can have a change of heart and rid ourselves of "character weaknesses". I've found it helps to not give it too much attention - to not obsess with the guilt of doing these things.

Anonymous said...

i read a recent study on alcohol abuse and addiction. i don't have the article with me now, but i remember abuse being defined as interfering with school, work, relations of any kind, and so on. if pornograpy or masturbation does any of those things, it's abusive.

what about the guy who feels the urge for pornography or more, then finds masturbation relieves him of those urges. is that good or bad?

Darrin said...

Very interesting insight! I love the phrase "Having a changed heart extends its influence past that issue to every issue of my life." which is so very true for all of us. I don't know that it necesarily affects EVERY issue of a person's life, but certainly to related issues. And it definitely affects more than just the one issue.
This also makes me think of a story where a person gives up his sins. Infact, he says "I would give away all my sins..." I think the motivation is that the person found something more valuable, such as truth, in this case. Other things or great value for which one might give up or give away their sins moght be great peace of mind, lasting joy, reciprocated love, clear conscious, a form of freedom, etc. It will vary from person to person. So I suppose if you value the consequence of giving up the sin more than the pleasure of the sin itself, you are motivated to change.
However, this is only one aspect. You discuss addictions, which are another aspect that make change increasingly difficult, even if the reward is worth more than the pleasure of the sin.
Thanks for your insight.

Sir Jupiter said...

I'm all for you overcoming your addiction. I just hope that, throughout it all, you keep a healthy self-image and not fall into a trap of self-loathing.

Nothing wrong with overcoming something about yourself that you don't find long as you still like yourself at the same time. :-)

GeckoMan said...

A Change of Heart...Bobbing up and down, as I tend to do in life, is the hardest thing for me to deal with in my faith. How many times will I make the same stupid mistakes and acknowledge that yet again, my randomness doesn't work or bring me fulfillment? It's hard to pray always, read the scriptures with real intent and maintain fervent belief when my behavior seems all over the board. I'm a perfectionist and I doubt I'll ever be perfectly happy with myself. It's not that I lack love for the Lord or that I don't try hard--I do. But carrying on with faithful desire, realizing that I probably won't measure up in the end to the Lord's standards, based on my prior performance, is the angst I struggle with most.

Remus said...

i wish that i could come to that kind of healing in my life. Sometimes I just lack faith, something I never thought that I'd lack

-L- said...

Forester, I think an addiction is when it's a compulsive thing. I think it's wrong even if it's not an addiction, but for me it's particularly distressing because it's out of control. I could quote the church's manual to you on the topic, but I'll spare you.

Sir Jupiter, wonderful advice. Thank you.

Mr. Fob said...

Remember when this blog used to be cool (i.e. you posted on it more than once a month)? I do.

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog recently. Not LDS here. I'm a therapist that works with families affected by domestic violence, (broadly defined to include not only physical but psychological and emotional abuse.) I found myself drawn in recognizing posting after posting echoed the voices I hear daily in my practice. The voices of the abused trying to make sense of abusive relationships. Why do we stay in relationships that love us back so poorly? Beliefs. About self, about relationships, about God and the nature of Divine Love. Eerily, I have heard echoes of the comments I find in your blog coming from the victims with swollen lips and eyes nearly blinded by the abuser. "I know he loves me, I just need to be a better person." Yikes!! I could parallel any number of these comments similarly to the sad, sad mental contortions people make to live in abusive relationships. What is it but abuse to call someone an abomination?

-L- said...

Thanks for your comment, anon. Feel free to look around the blog and get a better feel for who am I and how my relationship is with my wife and my faith.

Nobody (that I recall) has called me an abomination. Certainly not my wife or my church. The sin of homosexuality has been called an abomination, but I don't feel much inclined to disagree. I could add the caveats and the qualifiers ad infinitum, but the essence of the issue is a distinction between divine people and actions that are antithetical to that divine nature. The person still has that divine potential, but the actions are damning, however you want to put it.

I'm not clear on whether your domestic violence analogy is in regard to my relationship with the church or with my wife, but neither one really seems appropriate to me. It's hard to convey through a blog what the nature of my relationships are, but rest assured, they are good (far better than most!) and getting better all the time.

Stephen said...

I have to say that it is tempting, but avoiding file sharing is better.

My real weakness is EULAs. I'm ok with installing software only on one computer and buying additional copies, but what about the student software when I suddenly want to spell check something I've written?

I know, there is a reason I've got WordPerfect installed on this computer too. ;)

Stephen said...

BTW, I find 12 step work interesting.

I don't know if you've seen this link, but this is one for authorized files: