Admitting You Have a Problem Will Be the Best Feeling You’ve Ever Had

You know that feeling you get when you make a good decision? It’s a deeply satisfying thing, isn’t it? And it can sure be elusive – after all, you only ever know a decision was the right one long after you make it. Same thing with bad decisions, for that matter; hindsight is 20/20, after all.

But what if there were decisions you could make that could be guaranteed to have a positive impact on the trajectory of your life?

Well, it would be a lie. Nobody can make such claims. But what I can tell you is that admitting to your personal problems could be one of those decisions. It might not feel like it, and you might not really know right away, but I can personally guarantee that you’ll feel as though a weight has been lifted, and even more importantly, you’ll feel as though you’ve taken control of your life. I can imagine few things in life more rewarding than feeling a degree of balance and control return to your life.

So what kind of stand am I talking about making? Let’s start with the most obvious. The 2012 edition of the Treatment Episode Data Set indicates that some 1.5 million teenagers in America could be considered to have a substance dependency. Just over half of them – about 51.2% – had been referred to some kind of alcohol or drug treatment program by a court.

The thing is, I’m not just talking about chemical dependencies here, although that’s obviously the most well-known sort of addiction. Here are a few others: There’s every reason to think that certain types of video games can be addictive. Sex and porn can be addictive. Even relationships – particularly unhealthy ones – can be addictive.

In case you think I’m speaking hypothetically here, you should know that some of the men in my family have struggled with alcoholism over the years. Too many of them spent too many joyless days by themselves after their closest family members couldn’t be around them any longer. They think of the lost time, lost money, squandered ambition, and missed opportunities over the years, and the regret is sometimes enough to overshadow even the satisfaction of having made a change.

But they did change. Others might make their own personal admission of weakness long before they did, and good on them.

Life is full of temptations. I won’t tell you for a moment that some of them aren’t worth pursuing – responsibly, in moderation, or in the right company – but a great many more will turn your world upside-down and inside-out.

Furthermore, I won’t tell you that there’s an orderly and clearly delineated multi-step program that works for everybody. The Church-sanctioned 12 step program is a great place to start, but like all matters of faith, how you interpret its teachings and put them into action are wholly and decidedly yours.

Know, too, that self-deception is not one of the 12 Steps.

I’m not going to drag this on for much longer. What I’ll leave you with is this: if there was something tugging at your conscience while you read this article, know that it’s probably time to address it. Doing so might be the start of a painful road toward recovery, but the feeling of relief will be an immediate and lasting reward.

Image Credit: Flickr (via Creative Commons)

3 reasons Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows

I coordinate a sacrament service at a local seniors’ residence. Usually, a member of our ward presents a message, but occasionally, someone doesn’t show, so I need to step in. Such was the case today.

Given that it is Easter Sunday, I decided to use a text discussing the sacrifice of the Saviour. There are several to choose from, but I picked Alma 7.

Alma teaches the people of Gideon about Jesus during this chapter, but verses 11 and 12 were what I referred to specifically, starting with just verse 11:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

After reading this verse, I highlighted the fact that Alma made a point to specify that the Saviour suffered pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it seems like we focus on Jesus suffering for our sins and that atonement is a vehicle for our redemption.

The Atonement—at least according to Alma—seems to be much more. If he suffered not only for our sins, but also for our pains, afflictions, and temptations, it’s no wonder he bled as if from every pore.

Isaiah spoke of this, too, in verse 5 of chapter 53:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

He makes it clear in this verse that Jesus suffered for our sins. However, echoing Alma’s thoughts (or perhaps Alma was echoing his, Isaiah touches in the previous verse about his suffering encompassing more than just our sins:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .

It is a great blessing that not only has he made it possible for us to have our sins taken from us but that our other sufferings can be, as well.

To me, I think there are three reasons why Jesus did this for us.

  1. So he can develop mercy
  2. So he can judge righteously
  3. So he can carry our burdens

1. Developing mercy

In Alma 7:13, Alma teaches that Jesus suffered these things so he can develop mercy.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

In fact, not only did it help him develop mercy, but it filled him with mercy. Because he knows what it feels like to go through what we have to endure, he can plead our case with mercy when he intercedes in our behalf. When we pray for relief and peace, he can confirm that what ails us is difficult and trying.

Likewise, I think this establishes a pattern for us: if we want to develop Christlike mercy, we must be willing to suffer for others.

2. Judging righteously

In Mosiah 3:10, King Benjamin teaches us that all Jesus endured (see verses 5–7 and 9) was so “that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.”

If a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving family, Jesus will know what was going through the man’s mind and what drove him to do this thing.

When passing judgement on us, he will use his sufferings and trials to judge more than just our actions (see D&C 137:9; Alma 18:32; D&C 6:16).

This is also why it is important that we should not judge others. We can see only their actions; we cannot understand what motivates them, what causes them to do something we would not do.

3. Carry our burdens

In my mind, this concept culminates in the ideas Jesus himself espouses at the end of Matthew 11:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I believe that his having experienced all these pains, sorrows, griefs, afflictions, and temptations is what allows him to make such a remarkable offer.

May we this Easter season remember that Jesus’s suffering was for more than redemption from sin and deliverance from death. He suffered that our lives could be made easier.