School started this past week. After a prompting from the Lord, Jess and I prayerfully decided I would work full-time while going to school full-time. I felt at peace with this decision, but I’ve also felt fear and anxiety. School adds a lot of stress to my mind and body, and stress can become a trigger for my addiction. I don’t want to risk losing any recovery. I wasn’t even sure how I was going to fit in time for study, let alone my most important priorities of quality and quantity time with my family. I couldn’t see a way to make it work. I didn’t want to do it. But I knew this wasn’t my idea. So, I decided to move forward and trust that Heavenly Father knows what He’s doing.
What’s unfolded over the past week has strengthened my faith in God. I met with my academic adviser to make sure I was on my way to graduation without any hiccups. He noticed my heavy course load and recommended I seek internship credit for my work as a programmer. I told him that was my original plan, but I couldn’t now that I was going from an internship to a full-time position. He informed me that I could, in fact, get course credit while working full-time and not as an intern. Awesome! So, that effectively reduced my course load to only nine credit hours this semester. I can work with that. Soon thereafter, I learned from a professor that due to the nature of the material, we students would be allowed to select one of two foci and attend only one lecture per week instead of two. This enables me to get all my hours in for my employer without having to work on Saturdays. Saturdays have become an important day for our family to spend time together. Now I will have time for studying and spending time with my family. How amazing is that?! I didn’t know these things would work out the way they have, but Heavenly Father knew. He’s strengthened my faith with much care and interest in the details of my life. I love Him for that.
I’m learning to trust God in all things, not just in my recovery from addiction. In fact, that’s been the core of my recovery: deciding to trust God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in all things… with my will and my life. That’s Step 3 of the addiction recovery program. I thought it would be a one-time decision. It was a one-time decision, but I’ve realized that I’ve had to decide to stick to that decision many times. I’ve also learned with certainty that I can express my fears and doubts to Heavenly Father without offending Him. I think it’s okay to feel fear or doubt as long as I choose not to let it stop me from trusting Him.
I’m reminded of an account from the Bible (this also reminds me of a great talk about faith and doubt). A man’s son had been possessed by a “dumb spirit” since he was a child. He went to the Savior and brought his son with him, pleading, “if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:17-29). I just love how honest that man was with the Lord, and how the Lord didn’t say, “Oh, your faith isn’t perfect? Sorry, I can’t help you. Come back once you no longer have any doubts.” Instead, the scriptures say He healed the man’s son.
I’ve had plenty of doubts while honestly seeking recovery from addiction. “How could an addiction recovery meeting (i.e. group therapy) possibly help me change?” “Why would writing down all the good and bad things I’ve ever done (part of step 4) help me recover from my addiction?” “What’s the point of trying if I’m almost certain I’ll end up back here in the same spot again?” “Why haven’t I found lasting recovery yet?” I’ve found that the most effective way for me to deal with those doubts and thoughts of unbelief is to talk about them with my Heavenly Father in prayer, ask Him for faith, and then move forward with whatever it is He’s asking me to do. I don’t ignore them. I think that pretending they don’t exist just allows them to fester in my mind. So I write them down and talk about them with God. And He comforts me. It feels like He understands me. He’s blessed me with power to move forward every time I’ve done this. And in the end—every time—I feel that I can trust Him better and more. He’s never misled me.
I still have doubts and questions that haven’t been answered; at least, not yet. But thanks to the grace I receive from Jesus Christ, I can move forward with hope and faith that wherever He leads me, it will be for my benefit. And overall, I feel more peace. I still have times when I feel discouraged or angry, but those feelings don’t define me anymore. I’m progressing. Sometimes I feel like I’m progressing with the speed of a glacier, and sometimes I fall and take some steps in the opposite direction, but overall I am progressing.
I’m grateful for the Lord’s patience and mercy that he’s shown me. I do lots of good things and lots of dumb things, and yet He still helps me when I seek Him with sincerity, no matter if I think I deserve it or whether or not I have perfect faith in Him and His ability to save me. He’s always there for me when I cry out to Him. He is dependable and trustworthy like that, and I love Him for it.