I’ve been listening to The Garden almost nonstop for the past week. It’s an allegorical oratorio. I first heard the music when my home stake performed it years ago. I remembered I really enjoyed the music and lyrics. Turns out it has a song that I feel perfectly describes my hope, fears, and desires throughout my addiction. As I listened to it, I felt the Lord speaking hope and love to my heart. It depicts the thoughts and feelings of a ram who’s stuck in a thicket. It’s called, “Next Time.”
You may think life is hard
Just because you haven’t grown
You should stay right where you are
It’s much harder up here on your own
You can lose your way so quick
Danger awaits every turn
Trapped inside this bush so thick,
Wondering what you’ve learned
The Next Time I think I can stray from the fold
I’ll remember the fix that I’m in right now
The Next Time I wink at a truth I’ve been told
I’ll stop in my tracks somehow
The Next Time I act like I know it all
The memory of this will come rushing in,
And when I look back I will always recall
Just how big a fool I’ve been!
Next Time I won’t get lost!
Next Time I’ll see the signs
Safe in my Shepherd’s footsteps
And never too far behind
Next Time I won’t get caught!
In this tangled web of mine
But I’m filled with fear as night’s drawing near
There may never be Next Time
The Next Time I’m loved, no I won’t run away
To some secret place where I can hide
The Next Time I’m called at the end of the day
I’ll run to my Shepherd’s side!
Later in the allegory the Shepherd, Jesus Christ, atones for the sins, mistakes, and pains of all the characters in the story, including the ram. The ram then sings:
I am free!
Somehow I’ve been set free.
It’s a miracle, I’m sure.
Where’s the One
Who this great thing has done?
I will love Him evermore!
Contrast these lyrics with those of another song I used to frequently ponder as I struggled to maintain abstinence on my own. This one’s called “The Curse,” and it’s from a popular story called Rigoletto.
We’ve heard the tale since we were young,
Heard the songs that have been sung,
About an evil spell.
Someone beautiful is cursed
We feel sad through every verse
Til a kiss and all is well
The message that no one can see
Is clearer to someone like me
There is no curse or evil spell
That’s worse than one we give ourselves
There is no sorcerer as cruel,
As the proud and angry fool.
And yet, we cry life isn’t fair
Beneath our cries the truth is there
The power that will break the spell
We should know very well
Is locked within ourselves
Yet we’d rather blame,
And curse our fate than change
We run from everyone to hide from the pain
And all the shame
The story’s old we know it well
About a wretched evil spell
The power that will break this curse
Oh I know all too well
Is locked within myself
I agree with much of what Rigoletto’s character describes: “There is no sorcerer as cruel as the proud and angry fool… Yet we’d rather blame… We run from everyone to hide from the pain and all the shame.” To myself, an addict in recovery, these words ring some loud bells. The central theme of this song, however, doesn’t lead me to believe that I need anyone else to rescue me from my addiction, or from any state of life in which I may find myself.
Self-reliance. I have the power. If I just work harder and want it more, then I’ll overcome this. I can do it.
Did you notice the difference between the two songs? Who has the power to break the curse of addiction? Who can save us when we have put ourselves in the terrible “chemical and spiritual chains of addiction,” as Dr. Hilton describes?
“I am free! Somehow I’ve been set free… it’s a miracle, I’m sure! Where’s the One who this great thing has done? I will love Him evermore!”
What’s the difference between the two songs? Who makes the difference? Either I can save myself from my addictions and sins, or I can’t. Either Jesus Christ is the only One who can save me from my addictions and sins, or He isn’t.
“And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh…” (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 5:8).
Lately I’ve been trying to take control of my life. I’ve observed the incredible daily miracles the Lord works for me and I think, “Hey, my life isn’t so unmanageable anymore, I’m not so powerless over my addiction anymore” (see Step 1). Instead of seeking the Lord’s will and submitting to Him, I make plans for my day and then I ask the Lord to help me get through it. I’ve been trying to do things my way again. Being an addict is to be insane! My way got me into my addictions in the first place!
I’m grateful to Heavenly Father for leading me to the music and lyrics of The Garden again. He knows that I’m a sucker for a beautiful, cheesy tune. He knows how to reach my heart.
I am grateful for the goodness of God and for the love and patience I feel from Him. He is the only reason I enjoy any blessings of recovery. He is the only reason I have any hope of salvation, happiness, and healing.
“In the first two steps, we awakened to what we could not do for ourselves and what we needed God to do for us. Then in step 3 we were introduced to the only thing we could do for God. We could make a decision to open ourselves to Him and surrender our entire lives—past, present, and future—and our will about our lives to Him. Step 3 was an act of agency. It was the most important choice we ever made.
“…When we took step 3, we faced the truth that recovery was far more the result of the Lord’s efforts than our own. He worked the miracle when we invited Him into our lives. Step 3 was a decision to allow God to recover and redeem us. It was a decision to allow Him to direct our lives, remembering, of course, that He always respects our agency. Thus, we decided to put our lives in His hands by continuing to follow this spiritually focused program of recovery” (Addiction Recovery manual, Step 3).