This effort to write a "Twelve Step Commentary on the Book of Mormon" began innocently enough in 1988, over twenty-three years ago. I had no idea then that there would ever come a time when the thoughts in it might be of interest my fellow Latter-day Saints—and maybe even to those beyond our faith.
In fact, when I put the first sheet of paper in my old typewriter, I thought that it would be the only sheet of paper I would need. I honestly thought I would just be typing a one page list of scriptural references—maybe a dozen or two on each of the Twelve Steps of recovery. My intention was to type this quick list up in a few minutes and fire it off to a fellow Latter-day Saint who, like me, was involved in Overeaters Anonymous. She had recently written to me, asking if I could share some scriptural references to help her overcome her fear that the twelve steps might be taking her away from the gospel.
I understood her concern. I had felt the same caution, myself, ten years earlier in 1981 when I started attending twelve step addiction recovery meetings to deal with my out-of-control eating behavior. But, over that seven years since my first exposure, I had been led by the Lord to prove the Steps by the scriptures—particularly the Book of Mormon—and I had gained an absolute certainty of the perfect harmony between them and the principles of the restored gospel.
I was filled with joy at the thought of sharing evidence of this harmony with another member of the LDS Church. I knew these true principles could lead a faithful LDS member, one step at a time, to a living, daily experience of the Savior's atoning love and grace (power) in their lives.
So, I turned to the first marked verse in my battered and worn missionary copy of the Book of Mormon (an inexpensive copy that I had marked up to my heart's delight with twelve-step comments and references) with the intent of just writing down book and verse.
But, as I began to read the marked verses, again, I felt a little tug at my heart and mind. How could I just write down the references, quickly, almost impersonally? After all, each reference had been like a centennial, marking my own way out of the bondage of addiction and destructive living. Each verse and the voice of the authors who had written them were old and dear friends to me, part of the most important "support group" in my own journey of recovery.
For a moment, I sat still, feeling confused, but as I prayed for guidance I felt the answer come with renewed warmth and excitement: "Colleen, I would have you do what you are feeling to do—go back and rejoice in every reference. Record and share the understandings that have blessed and saved your life."
"But, . . . but Lord, . . ." I stammered and sputtered in this internal conversation. "If I do that, this project won't be a list. It will be a book!"
I felt His Spirit warm me, as with the most loving smile, as I perceived a witness that could only be translated into the words, "I know."
What more could I say? I removed that single sheet of paper from my typewriter and turned to husband's computer, a tool I was very unfamiliar with. I didn't know how to use its word processing abilities, but I knew it was time to learn.
I made the list and sent it to my friend, but then I turned back to the verses and began to write a commentary for each one. Again, I had no idea why the Lord would want me to write a book-length work demonstrating the correlation between the Book of Mormon and the Twelve Step program, but I knew that I would certainly be blessed for doing it. I knew it would bless me to use the tool of writing to slow my mind down so that I could absorb the insights in each verse that much more deeply.
Over the next two years, more and more LDS members began to gather around this Book of Mormon grounded twelve step study effort. I began to have requests for a study guide that would explain the correlation between each step and the gospel principle/concept that matched it. That was when I began drawing from the commentary to write the documents that eventually became the chapters of He Did Deliver Me from Bondage. As if being picked up and carried forward on a powerful wave, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage became a completed book, was adopted by the LDS Family Services as its official study guide for the Addiction Recovery Program, and served in that capacity for ten years (1995 through 2005). To date, tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints have been introduced to the Twelve Steps through its pages.
Meanwhile, the original work, A Twelve Step Commentary on the Book of Mormon, written twenty years ago has waited to be shared. I've thought many times about getting back to it and editing and proof-reading it—getting it ready for publication as a hard-copy work, but the energy that is of God just hasn't been there
We began to hold twelve step meetings specifically for LDS members. First there were just a few of us, but then there were six and ten and twelve and twenty. That's when we knew this correlation between the steps and the gospel was something that could benefit many LDS members. The results lie before you. They are not the work of my own mind or intellect. As I have prayerfully sought the Lord's mind and will concerning what I should write and watched the words flow out onto the computer screen, I have learned concepts and principles I had never before considered or supposed. I have never considered myself "gifted" or "talented"—but the experience of recording these thoughts has taught me of God's abundance to even a person as ordinary as I. I have lived to know the truth of President Ezra Taft Benson's words,
Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, life their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whosoever will lose his [or her] life to God will find he [or she] has eternal life. (New Era, May 1975, p. 20.)
As you read this work, you will notice that I have quoted some verses only partially, using certain phrases or portions. I have also made use of italics and capitalization to emphasize what I felt the Spirit of the Lord emphasize to me. Please do not assume that I am trying to preach doctrine. I am well aware that the scriptures are of no private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)
This commentary is meant to be read along with your Book of Mormon.
That is important enough to repeat.
This commentary is meant to be read along with your Book of Mormon.
If you miss this one point, my sharing is in vain, for I do not desire to be your mediator with the scriptures. That is the role of the Holy Ghost.
I suggest that you buy an inexpensive, missionary soft-bound edition of the Book of Mormon, to use just for this reading. That way, you can follow even the slightest urge from the Spirit to underline and write in it. I promise you that even if you have never before studied the scriptures this deliberately, you will find many verses to mark and many notes to make as you read along. On some pages your margins will be full. Put the lines I have singled out in my writings into context—both in their original book and verse, but just as importantly—into the context of your own life. I promise you, again, if you will do this, you will begin to develop "new ears and new eyes" that will begin to see the goodness and mysteries of God everywhere (1 Nephi 1:1).
And all of this will come to pass even more powerfully in your life if you will allow your trials and your afflictions to break your heart and create a contrite (humbled) spirit in you. This humility and admittance of nothingness will become the most powerful paradox you will ever experience, for it will lead you through the principles of the Twelve Steps as they are validated and empowered by the second witness of the Prophets of God, back to the Fountain of All Righteous, even Jesus Christ. Only He can cause the mighty physical, emotional and spiritual changes that heal us from addiction.