Practical Gifts

While doing my Step 4 inventory, one of my weaknesses that God, my sponsor, and my therapist helped me uncover was self-righteousness.

For me this often takes the following forms:

“I know better than you.”

“I’m the authority on how you should be acting.”

“XYZ makes you not a good person.”

“I’m going to treat you poorly because you don’t deserve better.”

Seeing these destructive and hurtful lines of thinking in my behavior was a painful realization. These are not at all the ideals I aspire to live. Accepting this truth and others about my past behavior is what made Step 4 so difficult and painful. It’s also what makes my Step 4 inventory invaluable to me.

I remember the first time I did Step 4. It was an emotional brain dump of all the mistakes I’ve made, all the pain I’ve inflicted on other people, and all the painful things other people have done to me. It was an immense relief because I no longer had to carry it all inside my head. After I finished my inventory I burned it as a symbol of letting go. I wanted be rid of it and move on.

The problem was I didn’t learn from it. I didn’t identify my weaknesses, sick thinking patterns, and false core beliefs that underlaid all my wrong choices. I learned nothing or very little about myself, and so I wasn’t equipped to do Steps 5, 6, and 7.

Without knowing my weaknesses and the “exact nature of my wrongs,” I couldn’t change. I was the same person, and as my sponsor and the addiction recovery material teach, the same person will always return to the addiction.

Little wonder then why I relapsed nine months later.

(I want to be clear that I believe my sponsor at the time did the best he knew how. He helped me immensely and gave me incredible amounts of his time and energy. I don’t blame him for my not understanding the Steps. I don’t think I was ready at the time.)

This time around, my new sponsor taught me how to identify “the exact nature of my wrongs” from my inventory. I wouldn’t trade my inventory for anything. It’s precious to me! Not because I worked so hard on it but because God used it and still uses it to show me what drives me back to my addiction even though I don’t want to lust.

I slipped the other day. After talking with God, my sponsor, and my therapist, and after reading and pondering Ether 12:27, I read the following from the Sexaholics Anonymous “white book”:

There was nothing left for me to try; there was nowhere else to go and still be in charge, managing my will and life. I see now that in all my religious striving and psychotherapy I was waiting for the miracle to happen first, that I should somehow be zapped or “fixed,” unable ever to fall or be tempted again. I thought that if a person just had the right religious belief, he was automatically “a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” That all thought of lust would be removed, much as a tumor would be excised by a surgeon. The “religious solution” was one of the subtlest strategies in my arsenal of denial.

I didn’t realize that the essence of being human is to have free choice. God doesn’t want to remove from me the possibility of falling; he wants me to have the freedom to choose not to fall. I’d been praying self-righteously all along, “Please God, take it away!” not realizing my inner heart was piteously whining, “… so I won’t have to give it up.” There was belief in God without surrender. That belief availed nothing! I had never died to lust.

Sexaholics Anonymous, page 20

I think what I’m learning is that God will eventually replace my weaknesses with His divine nature. But not in an instant; not yet. I need to learn how to choose the right when I am inclined not to. I need to learn to surrender my right to be lustful, impatient, resentful, self-seeking, or self-righteous.

I believe my weaknesses are gifts from God. Without them I would have no need to depend on Him. I would have no opportunity to choose and learn.

I feel grateful for this new understanding He’s given me, and grateful to the people He’s placed in my life who are showing me the way to recovery.

2 thoughts on “Practical Gifts

  1. Something that I quickly learned while conquering my porn addiction is that our weaknesses are not just “our” weaknesses. Our weaknesses are the target of Satan and his minions. What nobody ever talks about or thinks about is how Satan uses our weaknesses against us. He knows everything there is to know about us. With that knowledge, he packages a plan of deception tailor-made just for us and then he begins his campaign of influence and temptation. I’ve been thinking lately about just exactly what constitutes “influence.” A few weeks ago, my wife and I began writing a paper that explains why some people experience SSA and part of it includes influence. Here are two paragraphs from that paper.

    “Schwerpunkt (SHVEHR-pungkt) is a German military concept first postulated by General von Clausewitz in his book, On War. It means the “main focus” or “main emphasis.” During WWII, the attacking army and support units would focus their attack on just one main point or area. Because everything we do first starts in our mind, our thoughts are the schwerpunkt where evil spirits concentrate on their influence. We do not ever commit a sin without first thinking about it in our mind either consciously or unconsciously. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said that Satan “has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.” This is what it means to be influenced by evil spirits. Satan and his angels influence us by projecting their ideas, thoughts, feelings, and desires, into our minds in a very subtle, deceptive, manipulative manner that can deceive those without correct knowledge and understanding.”

    “The problem with the overwhelming majority of Saints is that they do not know about this ability of evil spirits. And even if they do know of it, most still discount or minimize the idea or at least do not consider it at the time evil spirits are projecting ideas, thoughts, feelings, and desires into their victim’s mind. It is foreign to the thinking of most Saints. Hence, they think the thoughts being projected into their minds are of their own production. This is most often the case, but when there are intrusive, distracting, disturbing, or bizarre thoughts entering your mind without any verifiable association to an external stimulus, then, most likely, evil spirits are the culprit. Even when there is a verifiable association, they can still be responsible for those thoughts.”

    The above explanation is one reason why most people continue to have problems and relapse when trying to conquer porn problems. They do not understand the source of “influence” and do not know how to counter it because they lack correct knowledge and understanding. As Pres. Nelson said in general conference, we are taught how to rebuke the adversary in the temple.


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