[Alternate titles: Who I Am and Why I Write, A Recovering Addict Shares His Light with Others]
Originally the blog was subtitled “A recovering addict shares his light with others.”
And that’s what it is. That’s what I am.
September is Addiction Recovery Month, a very personal thing for me. Though I’ll never delve into detail, I’m also not going to be shy about the fact of it on this blog. I’ve realized there’s no point in that. I want to be able to show you the journey it’s possible to make, from that kind of darkness to receiving the kind of light that makes you able and want to write a book helping others with the gospel. I won’t go into my personal story now, but in the near future I will share an excerpt from the book that tells it. It’s the centerpiece of the Atonement chapter, “With Healing in His Wings.”
I can’t claim to be perfectly healed. I’m a recovering addict, and always have been. That means I am prone to relapse. We all are. Like alcoholism, it never truly leaves us for good. But that doesn’t stop us from receiving Christ’s grace, and it doesn’t stop us from sharing that grace with others. The instances of my addiction have backfired on Satan. In binding me as he has in the past, he’s shown his cards, and I know his game. He seeks the enslavement of God’s children, the total deprivation of our agency—because that’s what he thinks being a god is. Control over subjects. So now that I know what it’s like to be a slave, I know that the gospel is true. I know it is because it seeks to free us, to let us loose from chains like addiction, where the world, the other side, actually encourages it, perhaps ignorant and but at the very least in denial of its sinister hold. Because of Satan’s influence on me in addition to the Savior’s, I see what is right and what is wrong, and can share that vision with others.
It’s also given me a much sharper perception of how the Savior must see us. Having gone through the hottest of hell’s fires Himself, including the fires of guilt (undeserved), He is the one Being among us qualified to be truly merciful. He knows what the worst of Satan’s temptations feel like, and He knows through the Atonement what punishment for giving into those temptations feels like, too.
Having experienced such things, He did not become self-righteous and haughty, saying, “If I had to go through it, you have to, too.” He understands our weaknesses and how hard to bear it all is, and He pities us. He looks on us with compassion! Knowing all, He is, remarkably, a forgiving creature. How, too, then, must we look upon our fellow sinners with mercy and love and a readiness to forgive. Too quick we are, I believe, to condemn the sinner in our minds and leave him or her to their own devices to succeed, and to believe that every bit of misery they experience was brought upon by themselves. Or else we look down on them as special cases or service projects rather than peers and brothers and sisters. This is all especially true when we have not dealt with mental health problems and emotional disorders, and don’t have an implicit understanding of how possible it is for some of us to simply break down and lose possession of ourselves. Struggling with bipolar disorder for half my life has taught me about that, too.
So in this blog you’ll see a lot of that side of me—petitioning for compassion for people like me, we recovering addicts with our good hearts and broken brains, those who recognize our weaknesses and, despite our being prone to wander, still do our utmost to maintain that attitude of repentance that others might take for granted. That attitude is what it’s all about, that broken heart and that contrite spirit.
Remember, Christ doesn’t command us to be perfect right now. The most frequent commandment He or any of the prophets have ever given, is repent. That means He’s not shocked when we sin, nor is He shocked when some of us mess up again and again and again. So as long as we repent sincerely, and come before God honestly, that is indeed keeping the commandments, and for those who do so, His grace is sufficient for salvation and even exaltation at the last day.
In my next post, I will tell you why, in my experience with it, I don’t believe in sin. At least, not how we usually think about it.