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Scripture study and prayer are so important! When I feel discouraged, prayer has been a huge help for me. I pour my heart out to God, and He helps me through my trials.
I've been attending the 12 step program since 1999. I've done the work, completed the steps and yet never really felt connected to the Savior. Why do I need him? Can't I just do this on my own and with continued effort and will power? It has never happened. 8 weeks ago, I hit the worst state ever in my addiction. Oh I felt bad about myself. Elder M Russel Ballard said in a CES fireside last year, you don't need a temple recommend to visit the temple. For the past three months I have been visiting Timpanogos Temple. After a major relapse I was sitting in the waiting area just to the right of the recommend desk. I was alone. I sat and looked up to the picture of the resurrected Savior with his apostles, thinking for the first time, I do need him. I have a testimony, but He had never been tangible. At that moment, I felt him talking to me. He said, I know your brain, it's OK, I will help you get passed this. I reached up and felt the wound marks in his hands. I felt peace.
I have heard other participants in pornography addiction support group meetings say that step 1 is the key principle or step 4 or another step, but to me this step is so key. "Come to believe that the power of God can restore ME to COMPLETE spiritual health." How amazing is that! I come back to this step every day. It is what carries me through each of the steps. To have that hope that the power of the atonement of Christ can change me and convert me into the man that my wife deserves is a wonderful promise. Through Christ, and his love, grace and mercy I can put off the natural man and become a true son of God.
Before I attended PASG meetings, it was very difficult for me to find the hope necessary to even begin to fight my addiction to pornography. After I started attending meetings, I no longer felt alone. But even more than that, I saw the light radiating from the eyes of those who testified of how the power of the Atonement had liberated them from their addictions, and how they humbly thanked God for the 5 months, a year, 6 years, or more of sobriety that He had given them. I immediately thought, "Five months?! I could never do that....." But as I continued attending the meetings I came to know that I couldn't make myself go five months without a relapse. But God could. Now, I have the pleasure of seeing that same realization/hope in the eyes of those I see in the depths of addiction with whom I attend meetings every week as I share with them the months of sobriety God has given me. In short if you want hope, attend meetings religiously. Make them a TOP priority.
When I first began this 2nd step I felt very broken but I was beginning to feel the atonement of Jesus Christ healing me. My hope started as a tiny spark. After studying this principle for a couple of weeks and applying everything I could to allow the Savior into my life I began to become strengthened in a miraculous way. My tiny spark turned into something stronger. Here are the keys that I learned 1. Every day I found new ways to remove the influence of the world and figured out how to bring the light of the Spirit in small ways into my day. 2. Each evening I shared the details of my day with my wife. This kind of daily honesty combined with light has allowed the redeeming power of the Savior to not only heal me significantly but make me strong enough to resist temptations. By the time I was ready to move on to step 3 My tiny spark of hope had not only turned into a strong feeling of hope but I believed that He would enable me to fully recover.
I had spent decades fighting this "bad habit" before my Bishop referred me to this program. I failed to recognize this as an addiction. I exerted what I considered Herculean effort to repent and refrain from repeating this bad habit. I knew Christ would help me "after all I could do" or to state it differently, "Christ would make up the difference" for what I lacked. In prayerfully working this step and writing answers to the Study and Understanding section, I came to realize that I had a false belief in the grace of Christ. I came to understand that I am NOT required to do all I can do BEFORE Christ will help me. All I am required to do is accept His grace and Atonement and willingly follow what He asks of me. After I take those first few steps into the darkness, He helps me. That is all that is required. I do not need to qualify for His help. I just have to accept His help and start trying to do His will. Then He changes me.