Cherish the Journey

Cherish the Journey

Based on an excerpt from an earlier Change of Heart post entitled “Addicts and Angels–An Introduction“.

35+ years ago, I married my wife, Julie. Our marriage has been straight out of a fairy-tale…it goes something like this:

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I can honestly say that at many times in our lives, Julie and I were NOT having much fun.
However, I choose to call this a fairy-tale because the story ends like this:

…AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER!

Don’t get me wrong…in spite of our challenges, Julie and I have lots in common and love each other deeply. We think each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s sentences. But because of our weaknesses and infirmities, more often than not, moments of joy along this journey have been somewhat fleeting.

That said, our moments of joy are SO profound and powerful. With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that Julie and I now have the strength of spirit, a level of faith, and a deep interpersonal connection that we could not have found in any other way!

When all is said and done, the two of us separately have serious, debilitating personal issues. But despite (or more likely, because of) our unique and differing problems, we complement and strengthen each other in unexpected ways. I’ve often said of Christ’s atonement that “Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and our weakness is made strong in his perfection.” It’s much the same with Julie and I…we are so much stronger and better together than either of us could be by ourselves.

God gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. If you are struggling with addiction, or if you are caring for an addicted loved one, you might not feel like it, but trust me: YOU are one of God’s strongest soldiers! And whether you realize it or not, you can (and probably DO) make a positive difference in somebody’s life.

Q: What are the keys to success in this journey?

A: Lead, Guide, and Walk Beside

Years ago, there was a popular book titled “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten“. In my case as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my book would be titled “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in PRIMARY“. For those who don’t know, Primary is a junior Sunday School for children from toddler to age 11.

One of the most touching experiences of my entire life and the ONLY real source of spiritual strength during my darkest period of addiction came when I was called to be the music leader for Primary. Every Sunday morning (often with a hint of liquor still on my breath from Saturday night) I would sit on the floor in a circle with a group of beautiful little angels, aged 18 months to 3-years old, and we would sing this:

Even when the Light of Christ was nearly gone from my life, it was impossible to hear these pure little spirits sing these words without feeling God’s love for them and, by extension, for me. Without this weekly boost, I’m sure I would have fallen away from the church and been lost forever.

Let me quote a few more words of my favorite Primary song:

I am a child of God
And so my needs are great.

Help me to understand his word
Before it grows too late.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me. Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.

— Naomi W. Randall, “I am a Child of God”, LDS Children’s Songbook, p. 1

Whether your station in life is to deal with addiction OR to deal with the addicted, my sincere sympathies and prayers are with you.

know that I am a Child of God. More importantly, I know that YOU are a child of God too.

And as another line in the song says: “…Rich blessings are in store if I but learn to do his will…”.

His Grace is Sufficient

We started today’s post with a fairy-tale. Although Julie was often a damsel in distress, I was generally NOT much of a “Prince Charming”. So, what gives us our “Happily Ever After”?

Hidden within the footnotes of his landmark book “Jesus the Christ”, we learn this great truth from Elder James E. Talmage:

“In the [great and final] judgment…all the conditions and circumstances of our lives shall be considered. The inborn tendencies due to heredity, the effect of environment whether conducive to good or evil, the wholesome teachings of youth, or the absence of good instruction—these and all other contributory elements must be taken into account in the rendering of a just verdict as to the soul’s guilt or innocence. …Divine wisdom makes plain what will be the result with given conditions operating on known natures and dispositions of men, while every individual is free to choose good or evil within the limits of the many conditions existing and operative.”
James E. Talmage
–“Jesus the Christ”, (originally from: Great Apostasy, p. 21; see also Articles of Faith, 3:52–53

The PERSONAL Atonement

When Christ suffered in Gethsemane, he suffered great sorrow for our sins. But sorrow is not ALL he suffered. He took upon himself, in a very personal way, our individual infirmities, pains, and weaknesses. Christ has experienced your pain when you detox from meth. He understands what it’s like when I crave alcohol so badly that nothing else (including Him) matters. And he knows the feeling of loss when a loved one yields to substance abuse.

In short, Christ understands. He says to us “Come as you are…but don’t expect to stay that way”. I testify to you (as Boyd K. Packer did) that:

“…there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.”
Boyd K. Packer
The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness, October 1995 General Conference

Although justice requires judgment, our Savior Jesus Christ has suffered all things so that he might be a merciful judge. By submitting to Him and partaking of His atonement, we can each feel the joy…
…not only in the hereafter but in the here-and-now.

God’s grace is with you. Accept it, embrace it, and thank Him for it.

Pray for strength. Exercise faith. Ask God to send angels. HE WILL!

Through His grace, you will feel joy as you overcome your challenges and afflictions.

And you will know the joy of “Happily Ever After”!

He did it for me and he will do it for you.

To read the entire post, click:

As always, I’m inspired by the stories of your journey. Comment below or send me a private message at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE.

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Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE

Husband. Father. Grandfather. Uncle. Son. Pro Musician. Artist. Pro Driver. Mormon. And...recovering alcoholic. Now as a professional Addiction Peer Support Specialist, I share my story at ChangeOfHeart.LIFE, facilitate 12-step meetings for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, and work for Davis Behavioral Health at their Addiction Treatment Receiving Center.


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