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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Made Strong Through My Weakness

When we're in the thick of an addiction, it's not uncommon to make unrealistic expectations for ourselves. When I was in the thick of my addiction, I would say, "That was the last time I'll ever look at porn." I would make it a few days or maybe a couple weeks, and then I'd be over powered and I'd fall. After each fall I would think, "How could I be so stupid? Why am I so weak?" Anger and grief would consume me in this endless cycle of short-term success that led to extreme disappointment and failure. I would often wonder why God wouldn't just take away my addiction, especially if I was doing things I knew I was supposed to be doing, like praying and reading my scriptures regularly.

In the Book of Mormon, there's a story of 2,000 young men who fought to protect their families against a vicious army. In Alma 58:10, it says, "Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies."

Despite suffering great injuries, the young warriors were victorious in their battle. Not a single one of them died.

Notice in the scripture the first thing that they prayed for is strength. They didn't ask God to smite all of their enemies. They didn't ask God to just take care of everything so they could sit back and be safe. They asked God to strengthen them, so that they would be able to fight and be victorious.

If you're going through pornography addiction or any other trial, don't worry, I hear you thinking, "I DO pray for strength! I pray to withstand temptation! And. It's. Not. Working. Nothing has changed!"

I know. I've been there. I totally understand.

Later in Alma, it says ". . . the Lord has supported them, yea, and kept them from falling by the sword, insomuch that even one soul has not been slain. But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free." (Alma 58:39-40).

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our weaknesses, challenges, battles - that we forget why we have them.

" . . . I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)

For so many years, I was angry that God wouldn't take away my addiction.  I knew He had the power to do it, but He wouldn't, and for this reason many bitter tears were angrily shed because I blamed God for my plight.

But now I know why He didn't take it away, and I'm so grateful for it.

We need weaknesses so that we can learn to rely on Christ.

Even though we may suffer great battle wounds, we are being strengthened and supported in this battle we face. Christ really can change our weaknesses into strengths, no matter what they are. There was a time I hated myself for being weak and I hated my weakness (Let's be real, I still hate my weakness). But I know that they are a part of our mortal experience. They serve a purpose, and if we follow what the scripture says in Ether, then we will become champions over our weakness and we will become grateful that it brought us closer to God.

I never thought I'd be grateful for my addiction, but these past few months, since publishing my blog, I have truly seen my weakness slowly turn into a strength - and I mean slowly. I'm not here to put on a show, so I'll be real - I'm not totally over my addiction. I'm in a phase called "recovery." Recovery means that sometimes I have occasional slip ups. But now the difference is that those slip-ups don't cause me to doubt my own self-worth or the Savior's love for me. I'm a witness that change happens, and it only happens through reliance on Christ.

If you have slip-ups, don't despair. It's part of the growing pains. Keep pushing ahead and soon you'll look up and find yourself much further down the road to recovery than you ever thought possible.

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