Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1 Nephi 2:18 -- The Lord Can Heal the Effects of Our Mistakes

 . . . and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts. . .

Sometimes, we postpone rejoicing in our recovery, because we know that our own past hardness of heart toward the Lord contributed to other peoples’ hearts being wounded and hardened–kind of like a whole line of dominoes falling and knocking the next one down.  How do we ever undo all the long-range damage we’ve contributed to?  What if someone we’ve caused to harden their heart won’t allow us to make amends?  Sometimes, we have to let go and go on, trusting that there is no stubbornness (hardness of heart) so long or so intense that God can’t or won’t forgive it.

As we continue our new life, walking and counseling with Him, we will see our shortcomings turned to our benefit and the benefit of others as we act as "pioneers" and “scouts” for them.  Just as they chose in the past to follow us in paths that avoided the Lord, we can pray they will eventually follow our example of repenting and turning to the Lord.  In recovery, we must be willing to model a soft heart for them, so that they won’t have to travel as long without knowing God as we did.
It is never too late for any of us to begin again.  The old adage that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks," is based on a two serious fallacies (lies).  The first one is obvious: we aren’t dogs.  The second fallacy is a little more subtle. Turning to God and being in a close, personal relationship with Him God isn’t something new to our spiritual selves.  In recovery we are returning or recovering our eternal relationship with Him which we had before we came into mortality. We are never lost to our Heavenly Father or our Savior Jesus Christ, and neither is anyone else we might have stumbled into in our own blindness and foolish choices.  As long as we don't give up on Them or on ourselves, we can be have a perfect brightness of hope that someday the effects of all our mistakes will be healed. 

Prayer Thought: Lord, help me to let go of the fact that I’ve said and done things that have challenged others.  Help me to see the truth that Thou can not only soften my heart, but also the hearts of those I have challenged along the way.

© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Monday, March 14, 2011

1 Nephi 2:16 -- Visited of the Lord

 wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart . . .

I had no idea that I was keeping myself from recovery (salvation) by keeping such an overly formal, “arms-length” attitude toward the Lord.  Because of my own prideful judgement of myself, I avoided coming to Him directly, personally, one-on-one.  Instead, I relied  entirely upon other people’s testimonies of Him.  As a result, I didn’t “know” Him; I only knew of Him. 

As I descended into the terrible darkness of the truth about my “condition”–that I didn’t just have a slight bad habit, but a full blown addiction–I finally saw myself as I really was in mortality–lost without the Savior’s friendship.  At that point, I became willing to cry unto the Lord, pouring out without measure or hesitation my heart’s deepest need and desire–to know Him for myself.  Before that prayer was over, I experienced the presence of the Lord, even as I had read others describe.  I had not seen anything–at least not with my physical eyes–or heard anything with my physical ears.  But, I knew–I really knew–for the first time, that God lives.  I had experienced His living presence.  I had perceived His loving words whisper into my mind and cause my body and spirit to respond.  I knew I had been visited by the Lord, and that He had done for me what I could not do on my own.  He had softened my heart and strengthened my desire to recover.  Nothing could ever again be a sufficient substitute for having this degree of consciousness of His living reality and His specific, direct love for me.

Prayerful thought: Lord, for so long I was so afraid to really cry out to Thee, really pour out my soul to Thee.  I don’t know why, except that I was deceived by the Liar.  I pray I will never, ever forget the sweetness of conscious contact with Thee.

© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1 Nephi 2:16 -- The Prophets’ Invitation to Seek The Mysteries of God

. . . and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, . . .

For the first several decades I was in the Church, I occasionally heard solemn, fearful admonitions to avoid the “mysteries.” I leaned on that borrowed testimony from others and believed it, “hook, line, and sinker,” until I began to search, pray and ponder the Book of Mormon. How shocked I was to find that the Book of Mormon was filled with the examples and the testimonies, like this one from Nephi, of those who sought the “mysteries of God” and encouraged me to do the same. In the subsequent years of my own awakening to the counsel of the Lord, I have found the Book of Mormon’s greatest power is “to bring a [person] closer to God than any other book.” In other words, it is a handbook on receiving “mysteries” and how to conduct ourselves concerning them.

Unfortunately, during all those years I avoided the “mysteries” of the gospel, as I avoided any in-depth, quality time with the scriptures, little did I realize that I was falling prey to exactly what Satan wanted me to believe. He knew full well that I would not experience a mighty change of heart if I did not search, study, ponder and pray about the scriptures and allow the Spirit of the Lord to liken them to me and my own life's challenges.

Thus, for years, the only mystery in my life–how to get free from my addiction–ruled my whole life. I wanted to get free so badly, but I could not for the life of me (literally) figure out how to do it. Little did I realize that what I lacked--the "mystery" of it all--was my own close, intimate relationship with the Savior, just as the Book of Mormon prophets modeled, recorded and pled with me to find and enjoy.

Prayerful thought: Lord, it has always been a mystery to me how You could love me, foolish and flawed as I am, but I’m becoming willing to trust in Your goodness. Lord, I believe! Help Thou my unbelief.

© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Friday, March 4, 2011

1 Nephi 2:11 -- Becoming a Visionary Person

They did murmur in many things against their father,  because he was a visionary man . . .

A “visionary” man.  I have often wondered what being a “visionary” person would be like, even though I was sure I could never be one myself. I was sure that to be a “visionary” person you would have to be something so extraordinarily righteous you'd seem superhuman, and maybe even a little “weird.”  I was sure it was something that only a tiny handful of individuals could ever accomplish, or would ever be crazy enough to even want to accomplish.  Recovery, however, has proven my own beliefs to be false.

Recovery has taught me that to be a "visionary" person is very attainable and practical.  In fact, it is absolutely essential that each of us become such a person.  Joseph Smith even testified that, "Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God." [1]

Step Eleven is the step that invites us to become “visionary” and gives us the courage to live like Lehi (and all the other prophets), knowing that the gospel is true because we have partaken of its fruit—conscious contact with God.  Step Eleven is the crowning glory and fulfillment of all the previous steps.  In it we are called to continue practicing and improving our newly restored relationship with the Lord.  It admonishes us to pray and then be still and “listen” with our hearts as He communicates His comfort, counsel and guidance to us.

Conscious contact with God!  I believe these four words are probably the most significant in all of the Twelve Steps.  Paradoxically, this connection with God is what I both hungered for and what I tried to avoid by using my addiction.  Thus, what moments of interaction I did have with God were very business-like, based on a servant mentality, in behalf of others.  Consciousness of God, closeness to God for my own sake, was what I was missing, actually denying myself. I was like a starving person sitting on a mountain of canned goods without a can opener. As the Prophet Brigham Young once said, I was living “far beneath [my] privilege.”[2]

Prayerful thought: Lord, help me to remember that this way of life based on personal revelation from Thee is the sweet communion that fills all emptiness, calms all fears, and causes my addiction to fade out of my life.


[1] Discourses of Brigham Young, 32.

[2]History of the Church, 6:5.

© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

1 Nephi 1:20 continued -- Finding the Right Object for My Faith

1 Nephi 1:20  But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
To make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."    Do those words pull at your heart the way they do mine?  They recall to my mind, by contrast,  all those years in which I had no "power of deliverance" and often suffered the pains of a damned soul, caught as I was in bondage to my addictions and compulsions.

In recovery, I now see there was always one essential element missing in all those failed attempts to "have faith" sufficient to free myself.  What was missing was the correct target or object of my faith.  All that time, I was desperately trying to find someone or something in this world to have faith in.  I was constantly running from "pillar to post," trying to find the one true program, the one best author or "guru" who was going to have the miracle answer, the miracle cure.  There was always another book, another name, another way or means that just might bring me the salvation I sought.

Even when I tried to have sufficient faith, I was still focusing on my doing something, more than on Him doing something.  The emphasis was still too much on the "I," the "me" and the "myself," instead of on Him.  I was still thinking I had to be my own savior, with just a tiny bit of God's help.  What a shock it was to finally face the fact that He was the Savior--the one who did the saving--and I was the one who had to surrender my prideful self-sufficiency and let Him play that role for me.  The ever so slight, yet ever so essential modification that the Twelve Step principles have taught me is that I have no power in me unto deliverance.  Why?  Because all power resides in Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 4:11.)

And all those other ways and means and names (people) I turned to for help that only helped for awhile?  Do I think going to them was a wrong thing or dumb thing to do?  Not at all.  Most of them were good, and some of them even encouraged me to seek a "Higher Power," or "increase my spirituality," or even to rely on "Divine Providence."  And all those things were good as far as they went, but for me, they didn't go far enough.  In other words, they were what the AA Big Book refers to as "half measures." For me, the full measure of my deliverance did not come until I recognized that "all wisdom and all power, both in heaven and on earth"  flows from my Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ.  

Prayerful thought: Dear Lord, help me to remember that I have taken upon me Thy Name and that my deliverance is dependent totally upon my coming unto Thee first and attributing all salvation to Thee and Thee alone.
© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

1 Nephi 1:20 -- "whom he hath chosen, because of their faith"

We Are Chosen by Our Choice

. . . But behold, I Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

Harboring guilt and shame under a facade of outward church activity twisted my interpretation of this verse for many years. Before recovery, I read the words: "all those whom he hath chosen," and thought Nephi meant God had pre-chosen a select group of individuals, before this world began--and I was certain (due to my sin-ridden life) I wasn't one of them.

As working the principles of the steps began to restore me to sanity (the ability to hear and believe the truth), I realized that God desires to have all of His children become "chosen." Just as Tradition Three of Alcoholics Anonymous opens the door to anyone who has a desire to recover, the Lord also allows anyone to join this circle of chosen ones who truly desire to do so. It began to dawn on me that God does not play favorites. He longs to shed forth His companionship (through the Holy Spirit) just as abundantly as we will allow Him to.

In other words, all you or I need do to become"chosen" by God is be "willing to go to any length" (AA Big Book, p. 58) to trust and believe and have faith in His goodness. When we desire what He is more than we desire anything else, even what He has or what He can do for us, then we become "chosen," because of our faith and willingness, because of our choosing.

Prayerful thought: Lord help me to remember that thou art no respecter of persons, but only of my faith in Thee.

© 2011 Colleen C. Harrison

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Okay--pausing to catch our breath ;-)

Pondering: Taking Time to See Past the Surface

Okay, okay.  I know.  Getting four personal insights/applications/likenings out of just one verse of scripture is a little "over the top," but then that's how I find God to be--over the top!  I used to think that reading the scriptures (or even having anything to do with spiritual thoughts spoken or written) was just one more thing to DO and check off my "I'm-Trying-SOOO-Hard-to-be-a-GOOD-Person" list.

But, then, my weaknesses and the weaknesses of others broke me in two.  No, better put, mortality shattered me into pieces--a million pieces.  Putting my life, my sanity even, back together would have been like trying to reconstruct the body of one of the astronauts that died in one of the space shuttle disasters.  That was what it was like for me when I began this in-depth search of the Book of Mormon in the mid-1980s.

That's when I either had to find God on a gut-deep, heart-deep, walking-talking-counseling, personal revelation basis, or I was going to spin right off the planet, much less right out of the Church.  Everyone and everything I had believed in and participated in as part of the outward structure and appearances of the Mormon way of life had not been able to keep the holocaust that was my life from happening.

That was when I stopped reading the Book of Mormon just to check it off a list or raise my hand at church to show I was reading it.   That's when I heard Joseph Smith's testimony that this book would get me closer to God than any other book in the world.  Any other.  That's when I began slowing down and peering into the depths of each verse, like you would sit and stare into a pool of water and begin to see what lies under the surface.  I began to sit still long enough and BE still and wait upon the "words of Christ" to open the verses up to my mind.  And under the tutelage of His Spirit--starved for and hungered and prayed for with all my heart, like a drowning person grasping for air--HE began to show me the correlations with the 12 Steps and the applications to my life as a totally lost and devastated mortal.

I hope these bits of sharing will encourage you to read the scriptures slowly--taking time to let the Spirit of the Lord open insights and applications to your own life.