…can we just be Broken Together?

Serving Others…in the Twilight Zone

Serving Others…in the Twilight Zone

Life is strange…even under the best of conditions. Life as an addict (or life zoos essay dissertation proposal research questions what is the viagra prank http://kell.indstate.edu/chapter/example-chicago-style-citations-in-essay/51/ cialis still good after expiration date go site viagra ila is homework one word viagra real price how to do an essay without reading the book how to write a college video essay https://lawdegree.com/questions/essay-on-my-favourite-hobby-in-urdu/46/ go to site where i get viagra in dubai what does a college look for in an essay brandeis university essay question essay about a woman who has went through hard labor of pregnancy https://complextruths.org/case/drug-war-in-mexico-essay/68/ https://lukeeng.com/services/study-group-essay/54/ when a woman takes viagra viagra falls myspace baden design and drafting service https://writerswin.com/book/homework-chart-for-teachers/97/ https://indiana.internexus.edu/courses/sample-law-essay-trac/52/ essay my childhood place what happens when you eat too much viagra follow link encourage me to do my homework https://lifesciencecares.org/news/viagra-recept-nlkl-frum/195/ lasix build up https://mswwdb.org/report/essay-on-camera-lucida/96/ https://lukeeng.com/services/stereotypes-about-russians-essay/54/ with an addict) is even stranger. But the strangest things of all happen when an addict learns not to behave like an addict! When this happens, we “cross over into another dimension!”

Click [PLAY] to open the door!

OK, maybe our door to the twilight zone is a little different than the one in this clip… after all, the key that unlocks our door is the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Now put on your best Rod Serling voice as you read: “Beyond this door is another dimension… A dimension of Grace, a dimension of growth, a dimension of the Spirit. You’re moving into a land of both light and substance (remember what Paul said…”Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” Heb. 1:11).

You’ve just crossed over into the RECOVERY ZONE…”

When the Lord changes your heart, there really ARE some strange and slightly disconcerting (but desirable) side-effects! Let’s talk for a minute or two about the twisted logic of the addict, and then I’ll share with you a couple of details of why I’m telling people that I’ve entered the Twilight Zone.

Take a look at this picture and then answer the question below:

Does this picture depict twilight or dawn?

While some people see this scene as dawn, others will perceive it as twilight…It’s all a matter of personal perspective.

For those of you who are caring for and loving an addict, you’ve likely been living in your own private Twilight Zone for many years. For you, any move your loved one makes toward recovery is a welcome step away from the Twilight Zone for you. But strangely enough, for the addict, the closer we come to recovery the stranger things get for us.

To my fellow addicts:

To an addict, this seems NORMAL…

Remember how life was before addiction? Yeah…me neither. For many of us, one of the main attractions to addictive and mind-altering substances and behaviors lies in their ability to help us forget. Our addictions might temporarily provide a welcome diversion. Unfortunately, these substances bring far bigger problems than the ones we’re trying to escape.

At some point, the life of addiction became our new normal. For me, I felt far more normal when I was drinking, and far less normal when I abstained. It’s a little weird that I couldn’t see that my “normal” included risking my life, wrecking my health, jeopardizing my personal relationships, and making really poor personal and professional decisions on a regular basis.

I can see it now, but back then, not so much.

Suffering like unto Alma

Perhaps you know the story of a Book of Mormon prophet known as Alma the Younger. Much like the apostle Paul in the New Testament, Alma was struck down by an angel. Alma was unconscious for three days while he was converted to the gospel and went through his “mighty change of heart”.

I remember at least portions of my first major detox after about 15 years of hard drinking. Check out these phrases from Alma’s own description of his conversion experience–I think he describes well what my detox felt like:

“…wading through much tribulation…”

“…nigh unto death…”

“…everlasting burning…”

“…gall of bitterness…”

“…I was in the darkest abyss…”

“…racked with eternal torment…”

“…I rejected my Redeemer…”

“…causing me to quake, and tremble, and shrink…”

–excerpts from Mosiah 27:23-30 (The Book of Mormon)

I remember thinking almost constantly as I detoxed and many more times over the following years as I “white knuckled” my way through abstinence, just how much easier it would be to simply keep drinking. Like a Twilight Zone episode, the horrors of achieving the “normal” life I was striving for seemed more disturbing than the thought of continuing in my addiction.

OK…What’s up with all the Twilight Zone references??!

Now that I’m firmly into recovery, there are many things in my life that I look at and say “Oh…so that’s the way it’s supposed to work!” The Savior’s Atonement is manifest in my life. My prayers are being answered in a timely manner. Blessings are being poured out for paying tithing and following commandments. Miracles are becoming commonplace in my life as I learn to see the Lord’s hand in all things.

However, in the past 3-4 weeks I have had some serious Twilight Zone moments. Stuff that’s SO far outside my experience base that all I can do is scratch my head and gape in wonder.

A couple of months ago, I approached my bishop for info on becoming a facilitator for the church’s Addiction Recovery Program. Shortly after this, my wife Julie (who works as a job coach, helping handicapped individuals find and keep work) ran across a job listing while searching for employment for her clients. She was inspired to send me the job listing. I jumped onto Indeed.com to apply for the job, read the listing, and realized that my resume needed an “extreme make-over“.

My new resume credentials

Time to cue that creepy Twilight Zone music! I’ve attended seminars on resume writing and interview techniques, but they certainly NEVER suggested this:

And how about my opening statement in the “Professional Summary” section:

As a recovering alcoholic I have experienced first-hand the struggles of decades in the throes of alcoholism. I started my path to recovery over 10 years ago. Despite a rocky start, I have experienced considerable success throughout my recovery, culminating with over 2 years (and counting…) of complete sobriety. I worked as a professional musician for over 30 years; during this time, I lost several band-members and friends to drug overdoses and fatal DUI accidents. I relate to and empathize with the struggles addicts face.

There was also an online pre-screening survey as part of the application process that asked about my personal “lived experiences”. I was expected to candidly discuss how I dealt with my own problems and experiences with mental illness, my personal stories of addiction and recovery, discussions of what my triggers are and how I deal with them, and what I do to engage in self-care.

For decades as a design professional, and later as a professional driver, my greatest fear was that I might be asked about my use of alcohol and/or drugs. However, in my interview last week, the proper answer to the question “Tell us a little about yourself…” included the history of my addiction(s), the length and method(s) of my recovery, and how long I’d been sober.

Twilight Zone indeed!

My proof of God’s mercy and grace lies in the fact that I was inspired to apply and interview for this job. I strongly felt His spirit guiding me as I crafted my updated resume. After only a few days, this unconventional resume resulted in a job offer as a Peer Support Specialist at a new crisis intake center opening next month in Farmington. I’m SO excited!

God knows me individually and has a personalized plan for me.

Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.

God’s plan for me is a VERY different plan than I had in mind for myself. If you’d told me even six months ago that I’d become a certified mental health worker, I’d have told you that you were the crazy one! And now, I’m obsessed with it!

The truth of the matter is this:
We are all literally children of a loving Heavenly Father. He knows us individually, loves us individually, and has an individualized plan for each of us in our lives. And, do you want to know the best part? His plan for us is ever so much better than OUR plan for us!

Things that make you go “Hmmmm….”

A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.

— Mark Twain

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.

— Edgar Allan Poe

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.

— Oscar Wilde

The problem is not to find the answer, it’s to face the answer.

— Terence McKenna

And finally, this:

The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to SERVE. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.

–William Arthur Ward

WOW! How profound is THAT?? What does an addict need to do to recover?

I’ve come to absolutely LOVE the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The LDS 12-Step Program)

We’ve chatted recently about step 1 from this program–certainly a great place to begin! But for today, let’s jump to the end of the ARP manual…

What is Step 12?

Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do.”

–LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program Manual

My recovery has been largely “self-directed”. I was relying primarily on my own wisdom (yup…wisdom from the very same brain that thought drinking a pint of rum each night was a good idea!!) Because I was too proud and chose not to seek treatment or assistance, my progress was very slow. But by God’s Grace and in answer to many prayers by righteous loved-ones, recovery came (over a period of 11 years) by occasional baby steps.

Only in the past 6 months have I come to appreciate the power of the 12-step program. Oh, how I wish I’d made this discovery about a decade sooner!

As I look back at my journey through addiction and recovery, God has guided and protected my steps, even (or perhaps especially) when I was not walking on His path.

By God’s Grace, my recovery began with an inadvertent act of service.

One night, just a couple of days before Christmas 2007, I pulled off the highway on my way home to grab a Big Gulp and to stock up on some liquor for the holidays. While at 7-Eleven, I introduced myself (this is totally out of character for me!) to a stranger (we’ll call her “Suzy”) who, as it turned out, was stranded miles away from her apartment and desperately needed a ride home.

On the way to Suzy’s apartment, she shared with me a story of how she had changed her life, beat a drug addiction problem, found a new job, and moved out of the apartment she shared with an abusive boyfriend. That very day, Suzy had been inspired to do something that was very difficult for her and required a great deal of humility. I won’t go into details here, but it unexpectedly provided her enough survival money to get through to her first paycheck at the new job.

Suzy testified to me of many miraculous answers to her prayers as she was going through her process of self-improvement. She also told me with tears in her eyes that I had showed up to get her safely home almost immediately after a desperate prayer she had offered for help. By her own admission, Suzy was not a religious person, but I felt the power of the Holy Ghost so much as she told her story that I skipped the trip to the liquor store and chose to celebrate my first completely sober holiday season in nearly 15 years. Within just a few months of this experience I took the steps that initiated my detox and eventual recovery.

Service Changes Lives

Although I was providing service to Suzy by giving her a ride home, the greater service was that which she gave to me.
And what WAS that greater service?

Suzy simply bore her testimony to me…which changed my life.

One of the most inspiring experiences of my entire life has been to attend and participate in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program 12-step meetings.

Every Tuesday evening over the past couple of months, I’ve attended the ARP 12-step meetings at a Latter-day Saint chapel in my neighborhood. There I get to share my testimony and listen to many stories similar to Suzy’s. The intensity of the influence of the Holy Ghost I feel in these meetings is something I’ve only felt in one other place on earth…and that is in God’s holy temples.

I’d like to suggest at least a couple of reasons why the spirit is so strong at these meetings.

1) God loves his children, and is committed to helping us return to him

One of the first things I learned in a college business class: Every venture should establish a mission statement and then let that statement guide the way that business is done.

So, what is GOD’S mission statement?

“For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Moses 1:39 (The Pearl of Great Price)

If there’s one thing that Christ’s ministry teaches us, it is that He and our Father in Heaven have great affection and compassion for their lost sheep. Christ was frequently criticized because He spent time with sinners and ministered to them. Consider the following story from the New Testament:

As Christ dined in the house of a Pharisee named Simon, a woman of the city “…brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:37-38)

Such a public display of affection was considered inappropriately intimate, and would have raised eyebrows, even if the man and woman had been married. So for Christ to allow her to do this showed great patience and forbearance.

A teaching moment

Simon, observing the scene…

“…spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39, emphasis added)

Christ, discerning Simon’s thoughts…

“…turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, See thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gave me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
“Thou gave me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
“My head with oil thou did not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much…
…And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven…thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

— Luke 7:44-47, 49 (Emphasis added)

Just as I received blessings far greater than the service I gave by offering a stranger a ride home, this woman’s simple and humble act of service resulted in one of the greatest gifts we can receive in this life…forgiveness and the fruits of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The same compassion, forbearance, and forgiveness that Christ showed to this woman is abundantly evident at the Addiction Recovery Program meetings. His atonement is at work in the lives and souls of those who attend and participate, and I’ve learned more about His atonement by attending and observing these meetings the past few weeks than I had learned throughout my entire life to this point!

2) An inspired school of advanced spiritual learning

Most members of The Church of Jesus Christ are aware of something called “The School of the Prophets”, but not many know the details about this inspired institution of learning. As I’ve studied details surrounding the organization and workings of the School of the Prophets, I’ve noticed striking similarities between it and the Addiction Recovery Program.

There were several unique things about organization and administration of the School of the Prophets:

  1. As each student entered the school, the facilitator greeted them individually and put each under covenant “…to be [a] friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever…” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:133)
  2. Although one person was appointed to facilitate the meeting, each member of the group in turn would contribute his/her insights and experience on the specified topic: “let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time, and let all listen to his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all…” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:122)
  3. The group spoke of sacred and private things and were cautioned that “…That which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation…” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:61, 64)

What do we do in an Addiction Recovery Meeting?

The ARP group is led by a pair of missionaries and the facilitator…a member of the group who is an addict in an advanced stage of recovery. The meeting has two basic segments.

The first segment involves coursework taught as each group member takes turns reading aloud the lesson materials from the ARP manual. At the end of each section in the manual, the members engage in group discussion of what was read.

The second segment of the meeting is called “sharing time”. Each member is invited to take 3-5 minutes to share his/her thoughts and feelings on the assigned weekly step (or the step they are individually working on) and to bear testimony of how following that step has blessed their life. During sharing time, cross-talk (interruption and group discussion) is not allowed.

The meeting ends with a summary and closing testimony from the missionaries. Then, borrowing from the Alcoholics Anonymous script, we are charged to keep the contents of the meeting confidential: “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.” To which the group confirms “Here, here”. This creates a safe and confidential space for sharing very personal details of one’s trials and weaknesses.

To summarize, here is how the wisdom and organization of the School of the Prophets are applied at an LDS Addiction Recovery Program meeting:

Doctrine & Covenants 88:122

“Appoint among yourselves a teacher,”
(missionaries and facilitators)
“and let not all be spokesmen at once;”  
(take turns reading/discussing the assigned weekly step)
“but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings,”  
(3-5 minutes each with no cross-talk)
“that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all,” 
(the spirit will enlighten all who participate)
“and that every man may have an equal privilege.”
(all are allotted equal time, and even the shyest person is given the opportunity to share his thoughts)

The spirit in these meetings is absolutely overwhelming. Seldom is there a dry eye anywhere in the room by the end of sharing time. In no other setting have I ever felt so palpably God’s love for his children and Christ’s compassion for the sinner.

So…how (and why) DO we serve in the twilight zone of addiction?

Don’t judge, don’t preach, and don’t condemn…JUST LOVE.

It’s important to allow a little vulnerability into your conversations…when I was drinking heavily, several people tried to share messages of hope. Because they were shy about admitting their own shortcomings, I knew that they loved me, but I felt that they were still WAY above me looking down on me. When all was said and done, I still thought that I had problems nobody could relate with. So I didn’t take their message of hope to heart.

Use Alma’s method of testifying.

The snippets I shared above described Alma’s pain, but taken in context, he contrasts each of his trials with the blessing he received as he overcame the challenge:

I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God.

My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

I rejected my Redeemer…but now…he will make himself manifest unto all.

— Mosiah 27: 29-30 (The Book of Mormon)

It sounds counter-intuitive, and it’s not comfortable or easy, but as we share our stories and testimonies of addiction (and recovery), despair (and hope), darkness (and light), fear (and faith), and failure (and redemption) with others, amazing things happen.

  • The person you share with is lifted up and knows they’re not alone
  • He/she feels of your love AND the love of our Heavenly Father because the Holy Ghost will confirm your sincere testimony to them
  • YOU will also be lifted up by the spirit and strengthened with a desire to stay the path and keep improving

Christ showed throughout his ministry that he loves the sinner, the slave, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, the leper, the lame, the blind man, the harlot, the publican, the thief on the cross, and even those who tortured him and crucified him…“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. He loves every broken, lost, infirm, and degenerate soul…in other words—you and me…not only because we are sinners, but more importantly, because we are God’s children. Because of his suffering in Gethsemane, we can all be healed, redeemed and recovered.

Pray to be a service-giver and a service-receiver. It is your gift and privilege.

God seldom fixes our problems himself…rather he directs US to help fix each other’s problems. Both the service-giver and the service-receiver benefit and “..all are edified of all.”

“…So go out there and light a candle. Be a ray of light….the world needs you, and surely your Father in Heaven needs you if His blessed purposes for his children are to prevail…now go forth to serve and strengthen. If correcting all the world’s ills seems a daunting task, so be it. Go out there and be undaunted.”

–Elder Jeffery B. Holland, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ

I testify to you that no matter what you have done, you are not beyond hope or help. You are a Child of God. His mission statement says that he will grant to YOU immortality and eternal life with Him. His son Jesus Christ suffered for your sins, infirmaries and weaknesses on a very personal basis…he knows how it feels to go through what you’re going through.

His Atonement grants you the power to eventually be forgiven and perfected. The best way to strengthen yourself is to strengthen those around you so that they can strengthen you. I know this from personal experience, and am SO thankful for that knowledge. It has blessed my life and it will bless yours too.

This video summarizes what we’ve talked about here today. Please take a minute to watch and be inspired by Erik’s Story.

As always, I’m inspired by your stories…both of success and failure. I’m also here to help. Respond on this page (below) or drop me a private message at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE.

Also, if you have questions about the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, I’m more than happy to answer them. Click the banner below for more info or to find a meeting, or again, feel free to contact me.

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Husband. Father. Grandfather. Uncle. Son. Pro Musician. Blogger. Inspirational Speaker. Mormon. And...recovering alcoholic. As a Certified Recovery Support Specialist, I share my story at ChangeOfHeart.LIFE, facilitate 12-step meetings for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, lead Recovery Support Groups, and work for Davis Behavioral Health as part of the Recovery Support Services team.

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Ilene Greene
Ilene Greene
3 years ago

Love it! you do such a tremendous job on your blog. Thank you

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