9. We Have Renounced Dishonesty
“[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Addiction thrives in secrecy, and deceit is its lifeblood. A turning point for our loved ones ensnared in addiction occurs when they recognize the role secrecy and deceit play in enabling their challenges and addictions. When our loved ones lie to us or deceive us and minimize their bad behavior, we lose trust in them. Without trust, it is hard to overcome our fear and worry about what our loved ones may be doing in our absence. For example, if they tell us they are going to the store, we may wonder whether they are lying and actually intend to engage in inappropriate behavior. This distrust creates barriers in our communication and in our relationship. We may find ourselves constantly worrying about what our loved ones are doing and may take steps to monitor their behavior.
But while we may not now be able to fully trust our loved ones, we can trust the Lord and His protection. He helps us effectively cope with the many worries and fears we encounter. He provides us with assurances through His Spirit that help us find peace and hope. Nephi declared, “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever” (2 Nephi 4:34; see also Alma 58:11).
How will trusting the Lord help you when you struggle to trust your loved one?
Encouraging Honesty from Our Loved Ones
For many of us, discovering our loved ones’ addictions causes shock and alarm. Naturally, we have many questions regarding their actions and behaviors. To what extent have we been deceived? What else don’t we know? We are anxious to get answers and find out the truth. Often, our loved ones are in denial or are so embarrassed and ashamed that they will share only a little at a time. While it is vitally important for them to be honest and accountable for what they have done, full disclosure is usually a process that takes time, especially where patterns of secrecy and deceit have been in place for long periods of time.
It is difficult to learn all the secret and painful things that our loved ones have done. We may not want to know, or we may not be ready to hear everything—it may be hurtful and damaging for us to hear some specific details. While it is essential for us to hear the facts, all things should be done “in wisdom and order” (Mosiah 4:27). Everyone’s circumstances differ regarding how much detail will satisfy the need for truth. A bishop, a friend, a counselor—and above all, the Spirit—can help guide us in balancing what we need to know and what might actually further harm us. Even though we may feel angry or hurt because of what our loved ones share, it is important not to act in anger or to shame our loved ones. Remember that disclosure is part of recovery and healing and that our loved ones may already be experiencing shame and self-loathing—feelings which will need to be overcome as they progress toward recovery.
What level of honesty might you need in order to build a foundation for trust?
How will you decide what is important to know and what should be left unsaid?
Maintaining Regular Communication
Our loved ones may be hesitant or unwilling to speak with us about their struggles or challenges. Likewise, we may not be comfortable sharing our feelings with them. Although it may be difficult, we can find ways to be open and honest with our loved ones. Both we and our loved ones will benefit from talking to each other regularly about our journey toward recovery and healing. This includes discussing times or circumstances in which our loved ones become tempted or experience a relapse. Elder Richard G. Scott said, “A [spouse or family member] must have no private, hidden agenda that is kept secret from [his or her loved one]. Sharing everything about each other’s personal life is powerful spiritual insurance” (“The Sanctity of Womanhood,” Ensign, May 2000, 37).
It may be difficult to know when, how often, and what kinds of things we should ask our loved ones to share with us. The method and frequency of our communication may differ depending on our role as a spouse, a parent of a minor child, or a parent of an adult child. Again, a bishop, friend, or counselor can help us find the right balance. Open and honest communication is the beginning of rebuilding trust. As we patiently speak with our loved ones, if they are willing, the Spirit will guide and support us.
How has regular, open, and honest communication blessed your relationship with your loved one?
In what specific ways can you and your loved one improve your communication?
Our loved ones may need to learn how to be honest and trustworthy again. While they may say all the right things, it may be more important to observe their actions. This can help us understand the sincerity of their efforts toward recovery. They may not yet be willing to do what is necessary to find recovery or may relapse and fall back into their addiction. In such instances, we may choose to be patient and love them without extending our full trust to them yet.
Our trust may increase as we observe our loved ones drawing closer to the Lord and diligently making progress toward recovery. As they are honest with us about their hard times, we can also begin to believe that they are being honest about their good times. The Spirit will help us understand when we can begin to trust again. This process may happen gradually over time.
In some cases, we may feel that we will never be able to trust again because we have been hurt too much. Even when our loved ones are honest and trustworthy, our own fear or anger may prevent us from extending our trust. This is another burden that we can give to the Lord. His comfort and support can heal our hearts and make it possible to once again trust our loved ones, once they earn that trust.
What role does the enabling power of the Atonement play in rebuilding trust?
What are some next steps for you to take in the process of rebuilding trust?
As you study the resources listed below, prayerfully consider how you can apply the principles they teach.
James 1:19–20 (Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger)
James 3:2 (A perfect man does not offend others through his words)
Alma 12:14 (Our words will condemn us)
Doctrine and Covenants 51:9 (Let everyone deal honestly)
Doctrine and Covenants 136:23–24 (Let our words be edifying one to another)
Rosemary M. Wixom, “The Words We Speak,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 81–83
“Communication,” Eternal Marriage Student Manual (Church Educational System, 2003), 31–37
Personal Learning and Application
The following activities are to enhance your learning and application of these principles. Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these activities will provide you with new insights.
Study the chapter titled “Communication“ in the Eternal Marriage Student Manual (pages 31–37). What do you learn about trust? What may be necessary for your loved one to earn back your trust? What do you feel prompted to do?
Study either Randy Keyes’s article "Counseling Together in Marriage" (Ensign or Liahona, June 2012, 10–13) or Val Johnson’s article, “Obtaining the Spirit through Counseling Together" (Ensign, June 2012, 36–39). What do you learn about the importance of counseling with your loved one? What principles do you learn that may help you? What changes will you make to more effectively counsel together with your loved one?
Study and ponder the scriptures listed above. What did the Spirit teach you? How can you better communicate with your loved one? What changes do you feel you need to make?