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When hope is lost...

When hope is lost, when we are trapped by our addictions or compulsions, we are sent into a proverbial tail spin. We begin losing things. Self respect, self worth and self love are early casualties. We don’t even understand ourselves. We are often angered by our behaviors and seeming lack of moral strength. Often we see ourselves as if we were two people, the good and worthwhile Dr. Jekyll, and the out of control, despicable, destructive Mr. Hyde.

We develop a disgust for ourselves. We become very judgmental. We may mount effort after effort to stop and change our behavior(s), with seemingly no success. We always fail. We lose hope. This is the dark place. The dismal, dreadful existence devoid of hope defies true and accurate description. We feel only despair. As our situation progresses, we feel things slipping away.

One of the strengths of our faith as members of the church is the quiet confidence we have in the Plan of Happiness (Alma 42: 8). We know that following a righteous life, there is a reuniting of loved ones, the joyful reunion with our Father and the Savior. That understanding brings peace and comfort to every day.

This, however, is not the case for the addict. He has lost hope for that. He has made too many mistakes. As with his behaviors continue, which are so contrary to the commandments, he realizes he will not pass judgement, because he is unworthy. He feels that promised blessings no longer apply for him. His peace, his confidence, his comfort, are deemed forfeit by his court of self judgement, and he is left feeling very alone and condemned.
Somewhere in this process shame sets in. That inner decision that there is something wrong with me. The scriptures say, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matt 5: 48). We live in a congregation of very good, moral, righteous people, but we don’t measure up. “I mean, everybody else seems to not have a problem with this...”

We harshly judge ourselves. We have come up short. We are not worthy. We are not good enough. We are a piece of garbage and even worse. We bombard ourselves with hateful self-talk statements and thoughts. They have a toxic effect on us. Our motivation becomes challenged. Our will is compromised. Our view of life, the world and our place in it has changed significantly, and we feel there is very, very little that we can do to change things.

The loss of hope sometimes presents some startling features in addicts. Often they come to recovery with parts of their faith intact. They know that God lives. They know that the gospel is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. They know the Savior died for all humankind, well sort of. Addicts often become convinced that the healing powers of the atonement can apply to all the world, but somehow excludes them. I have done too much. I am unworthy, my sins are just too gross. That is the manifestation of the loss of hope. Healing is available, they think, but not for me. I am defiled and have forfeited my rights to the blessings. It no longer applies to me.

Their life takes on an underlying sense of despair and is reduced to going through the motions. The loss of hope is a paralyzing condition. Without possibility of success, we feel no motivation or strength to try. We become helpless and feel compelled to our fate; we are reconciled to being addicts. Can you imagine how Satan must feel at such a turn of events. His work is done. He can turn his attention elsewhere without much concern that there will be change. The addict is locked up by his own loss of hope, imprisoned without bars, but absolutely unable to progress or heal.

Addiction is not a maze we will escape without help from others. We need their guidance. We in fact, cannot heal alone. Finding hope again, and the entire healing process requires the loving help of others and our submission to their assistance. One of the features of working the Twelve Steps is that we become reliant on our Heavenly Father and his Son. They are the actual source of our healing which begins with the restoration of hope, gifting us with the mighty change of heart which Alma spoke of (Alma 5: 12, 14). In the language of The Addiction Recovery Program: Step 3: Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. (LDS Family Services, 2005) When we begin to turn our will and life over to Him for His care and keeping, we find the dawn and return of hope.

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2 Comments about "When hope is lost..."

said this on 10 Oct 2010 12:52:28 PM CDT
Sadly I agree with everything you are saying. I have many many family members who are addicted to things. Some are addicted to pornagraphy, others are addicted to violent video games that take away the spirit. And some have more harmless addictions such as ice cream or spending money on things they don't need. The point its all addictions are harmful to the body. We must have balance in our lives and when addictions take over they take away our agency and blind us to whats happening around us. Then the spirit leaves us and we are left alone.

Right now I am battling with my husbands' addiction to Violent Video Games. He is a student and instead of studying or looking for employment he plays games pretty much all day long. I feel very frustrated because I am greatly effected by his addiction. We have a 1 year old daughter and I literally have to beg him to spend some time with her sometimes. It's so hard for him to break away from those games and look into our little girl's beautiful eyes and tell her that he loves her. I feel great sorrow that come from his actions and I no longer have the patience needed to deal with this. I wish I could just throw away all of his games and hide the game system but I know that will only make him angry.

The first step to recognize that you have a problem is humility and that humility will allow you to see the truth and will help you to repent and change little step at a time. But the problem is, he is not doing anything about it we have talked about this a million times I have made suggestions for him to speak with the bishop,to go and join a support group for game addicts and a dozen other things. I just feel so frustrated. Now all I do is gently remind and pray pray and pray some more that he will have the desire to change this and stop wasting time because that's what he is doing is wasting time. Satan knows that and he is happy.

We are warned in the scriptures not to procrastinate the day of our repentance, we are also told that we are children of God and our bodies are not our own but Gods. We will be accountable to him during the Judgment Day for what we did with our time, talents and bodies. We will have to stand in front of Jesus and tell him everything. And we must watch and pray for the second coming of the Lord. We can't be sitting idle and waste our days away but we must prepare and warn others of the cunning ways of the Devil. I know that God loves us and he will help us over come our sins but first we must be humble enough to ask for him help. We must pray and fast and do all the basics and not be idle but continue to do good until we are take from this earth. I hope that through my prayers my husband will overcome his addiction and seek the Lords help. I hope that the rest of my family will also find their way back to the Savior and put away that filthy and vile addiction of Pornography and come unto Christ for help.

Roger Stark
said this on 10 Oct 2010 7:29:07 PM CDT

Thank you for your thoughts. You are pretty much right on. I am very sorry for the situation you find yourself in. It must be very frustrating, disappointing and hurtful. I am impressed that you are probably more concerned about what your daughter is missing than what you are missing. That is pretty selfless. I suppose in the eternities when we see the why of all things we will understand, but it is often very difficult till then.

You remind me of a client I worked with recently. She was afraid to confront her husband about his porn addiction. He would get very angry and abusive if she even came close to bringing it up. He used that to control her and allow himself to continue in his addiction. That situation was of course less than fair to her and violates a lot of commandments about how we should treat our wives.

Eventually things deteriorated to the point she didn't care if he got angry, she found her voice, and confronted him. To have continued in the situation was destroying her and the family. True to form it got ugly. But she simply said, "What you are doing is unacceptable. It is in-defensible on every level. It is not fair to me nor our children. I can not live with this anymore. You have to decide what you are going to do." She wasn't angry, she didn't yell. She just stated her position clearly. And she stuck to her guns, even when he started to be angry and very demeaning. His anger was just a smokescreen he hoped would scare her and control her. When he saw that wouldn't work he did have a decision to make. Hopefully they have a happy ending, he is trying to change and working on his addiction.

If I have learned anything it is the amazing power of the Saviors love. It can comfort and strengthen us in times of great trial. If we truly learn to turn our lives over to Him and trust in His care, we find all the strength we will ever need. I hope His love finds you.


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