Step 4 – Truth

KEY PRINCIPLE: Make a searching and fearless

written moral inventory of yourself.

 

Little Children Don’t Always Tattle-Tale

I can trace my first experience with secrecy to when I was about 5 years old. A neighbor boy I didn’t know too well wanted to play a “game” involving taking off our pants, and he told me not to tell.  He was around age 8. I didn’t tell on him and I’m not sure why. I may have been afraid of what my mom would do because she said, “Don’t ever let someone touch your private parts.” I may have thought it was my fault. Maybe I thought he’d get in trouble, and I didn’t want to get him into trouble. I still don’t understand what happened there, but I wasn’t the kind of child to ask questions or talk about things.

When I came across pornography at age 8, the friend I was with told her mom, and her mom called my mom. I remember my mom walking into my room while I played with my little ponies, and she mentioned something about getting a phone call from my friend’s mom and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about. I didn’t make eye-contact with her, I remember that. I must have said “no” then she closed the door behind her. After that I felt like I had this “dark secret,” and I felt I had two dark secrets I couldn’t tell anyone. Looking back, I understand these are common experiences just in talking with friends and family, unfortunately, but I was always scared to talk to anyone about what I went through.

Grade School to High School

I would mark that I did my school reading every day, so I could watch TV or earn a pizza. I cheated on a test in second grade because I wanted to get the answer right. I lied about eating my brothers sugar-crystal science project because I didn’t want to get in trouble. These are common feelings! We all have pride and we’re all selfish. It’s just part of the natural man.

Eventually, these lies lead me to change my behaviors and habits. I wanted some type of approval from my family and friends. It seemed that many people around me obsessed over relationships. Whenever I’d see a certain family member, they’d ask me how all of my boyfriends were doing. I would always blush because I didn’t understand why I didn’t have any boyfriends. My family would tell me I was smart and pretty, but I didn’t believe this was true because everyone else told me how pretty everyone else was.

From my perspective, as a fourth and fifth grader, the boys liked the girls who weren’t so tall and awkward. They liked the girls who were more “girly,” and I dressed like a boy sometimes. I liked wearing baggy jeans and a plain white Tee or add a button up shirt, and leave all the buttons undone, like my brothers and many other who followed the 90’s grunge trend.

All of my friends seemed to have their own boyfriends, and on TV, it seemed that by having a boyfriend, I would gain approval, friendship, and popularity. I made this promise to myself that I would become popular no matter what it takes to kind of get “revenge” on my friends for abandoning me in fifth grade. Maybe I got this idea from films like Never Been Kissed, Clueless, She’s all That, Miss Congeneality, or the Princess Diaries. I’m still not sure where it came from, but I pursued it.

I began cursing, piereced my navel, changed the way I dressed. I “went out” with boys in middle school just to have a boyfriend, and I continued this pattern through my sophmore year. I began drinking at age 15 and experimenting with others substances until age 17. My mom pulled me out of high school which was one of the best decisions she could have made to help me.

I didn’t go to Senior Graduation, but I graduated high school. I remember on the day of graduation, I had one friend message me. Out of the people I considered my friends, I had one person message me. I remember feeling shocked and empty, but at the same time grateful for this one friend. In my experience, it’s rare to find a genuine friend whoe is honest and has integrity during high school, I know I didn’t posess these qualities.

College

I still kept in touch with my high school friends. At age 18, I went to a party where my friends were going to college. I wasn’t going to drink that night, but I had one or two beers. The police showed up, and I hid from them. They found me and questioned me. They asked if I had anything to drink, and something inside of me knew I could lie and get away with saying, “No.” But for some reason, I chose to be honest. I went to the local correcitonal facility and spent the night there. I remember the song “A Child’s Prayer” coming to my mind. I sang it, and clung tight to my knees in a sitting fetal position on the cold cement bench.

In the morning, my dad and uncle showed up. I had made a phone call to a friend when I first arrived to the facility, but I didn’t realize the beginning of the message when the answer the phone is something like “An inmate at ‘XYZ’ Corrctional Facility wants to speak with you.” She and her mom called my mom, which really hurt my mom that I wouldn’t call her. I just didn’t want her to know. I’m still not sure why, but whenever I did something wrong, I just didn’t want my mom to know. Maybe it’s because “she raised me better.”

I was fined $500 and had to enter into an addiciton recovery program. I also had to start seeing a psychologist. I can’t say the psychologist helped because I felt he was blaming my mom for my choices rather than helping me to see my own choices for what they were: rebellion, secrecy, and trying to self-medicate from school bullying. I had also developed an eating disorder around age 15, so I didn’t realize this may have influenced how I was processing and making my decisions too.

After the Addiction Recovery Program, I thought I was good. I wasn’t interested in drinking anymore. I moved out into my own apartment with a friend, but I was still dealing with my eating disorder (e.d). I would spend many nights up late exercising or tyring to purge the food. I would starve myself, and I would go on intense diets. I followed one diet when I learned my friend had lost 15 lbs in  2 weeks. We went on it together, and it required a 2-3 day binge then for 27 days we ate 500 calories.  I lost 20 lbs, but less than two months later I had gained over 30 lbs. I continued to gain weight until I gained close to 55 lbs (and to think I just wanted to lose 10 lbs to begin with; 10 years later, my hair is still thin and brittle).

Ironically, during my time of extreme caloric restriction, I felt to quit my job at a restaurant I was working at. I didn’t follow this thought (which I now recognize was the Holy Ghost trying to guide me)  because the thought didn’t make sense. “I have bills to pay! I can’t quit my job!” Several months later, I found myself in a room with my coworker, Tucker* and his friends, and they were doing drugs. I just wanted to leave, but apart of me wanted to stay. I had already put my two weeks notice in at this point at the restaurant, but at this point I had already met Tucker’s friend, Jake*, who got me a job where he was working. 

From this point, I began waking up at 2:30am to exercise rigorously, so I could go to work by 4am, and do an online class through the summer.  I was hardly sleeping or eating, and I was overexercising constantly. Towards the end of summer, I met a coworker, Dan* from my new job, who was also living at Jake’s home and who was also friends with Tucker. I eventually went back to drinking and began dating Dan on and off for close to 5 years.

To this day I can’t help but wonder, “What if I followed that prompting to quit my job at the restaurant?” Another thought that came was “What if I had chosen to live at home and go to school to save money?” I can’t say I felt super good about moving out because I was still struggling, but I never once prayed to know what was best for me. I just wanted to be independent. So, there is no “what if.” There’s only, “Now I know, I just need to remember to listen.”

Health, Food, and Energy

This has been a mystery. I eat oats, and I become lethargic. So blasted tired, I can’t think, I can’t function, and “nothing makes sense.” I literally feel like I’m not a person. Like I’m in a bubble.

Sometimes it happens when I eat nuts, especially almonds. Is this just a food sensitivity? What gives? Yogurt and cottage cheese seem to have a similar effect. Spinach, broccoli, and cooked tomatoes also take me out. So does beans. Especially black beans, which are my favorite. 😣

What do these foods have in common? I’m trying to understand. It doesn’t help that most of our family meals contain a mix of wheat, tomatoes, and cheese. How can someone survive without tomatoes and cheese?? Most Italian, American, and Mexican dishes we enjoy contain cheese and cooked tomatoes.

It doesn’t help my husband has recently developed chronic heartburn. He was prescribed a certain med he needed to take twice a day. He was fine when he was on it, but must he live on prescriptions for the remainder of his life?

I’m attempting to find dishes that don’t trigger his heartburn or my brain fog. Here we go.

To Thine Ownself Be True: Part II of IV

The following is an excerpt from Gordon B. Hinckley’s, October 1975 General Conference address titled, Opposing Evil.

There are millions upon millions of good people in this and in other lands… [Our] situation is far from hopeless… there is no need to stand still and let the filth and violence overwhelm us, or to run in despair. The tide, high and menacing as it is, can be turned back if enough of the kind…will add their strength to the strength of the few who are now effectively working. I believe the challenge to oppose this evil is one from which… [we] cannot shrink. And if we are ever to begin, let it be now.

In that spirit, I should like to suggest four points of beginning: (To see the first suggestion see Part I).

And now my second point of beginning: A better tomorrow begins with the training of a better generation. This places upon parents the responsibility to do a more effective work in the rearing of children. The home is the cradle of virtue, the place where character is formed and habits are established. The home evening is the opportunity to teach the ways of the Lord.


You know that your children will read. They will read books and they will read magazines and newspapers. Cultivate within them a taste for the best. While they are very young, read to them the great stories which have become immortal because of the virtues they teach. Expose them to good books. Let there be a corner somewhere in your house, be it ever so small, where they will see at least a few books of the kind upon which great minds have been nourished.

Let there be good magazines about the house, those which are produced by the Church and by others, which will stimulate their thoughts to ennobling concepts. Let them read a good family newspaper that they may know what is going on in the world without being exposed to the debasing advertising and writing so widely found. When there is a good show in town, go to the theater as a family. Your very patronage will give encouragement to those who wish to produce this type of entertainment. And use that most remarkable of all tools of communication, television, to enrich their lives. There is so much that is good, but it requires selectivity. President Kimball spoke yesterday of the efforts of the television networks to present in prime-time evening hours suitable family entertainment. Let those who are responsible for this effort know of your appreciation for that which is good and also of your displeasure with that which is bad. In large measure, we get what we ask for. The problem is that so many of us fail to ask, and, more frequently, fail to express gratitude for that which is good.


Let there be music in the home. If you have teenagers who have their own recordings, you will be prone to describe the sound as something other than music. Let them hear something better occasionally. Expose them to it. It will speak for itself. More of appreciation will come than you may think. It may not be spoken, but it will be felt, and its influence will become increasingly manifest as the years pass.

Step 2- HOPE

I have been suffering from addiction for nearly 20 years. My addictions began out of curiosity and were fueled by secrecy, rebellion, and the high. In taking the first step to be honest, I had to be honest with the one person I’ve deceived the longest, myself.

I was first introduced to the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 18. In the last 11 years, I’ve tried and failed many times to overcome multiple addictions, but “no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). I began to accomplish more than I could imagine once I tried to learn true doctrine, true principle, and apply what I learned in the ARP manual. I have been able to abstain from multiple destructive behaviors for over 4 years and have experienced for myself and know that  “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. “Boyd K. Packer

A PDF version of the ARP manual is available here and an online version of the ARP manual is available here.

Step 2 – Hope

KEY PRINCIPLE: Come to believe that the power of God

can restore you to complete spiritual health.

I go between steps 1 and 2 most often. I’ve made it through the entire 12 steps once in the course of 11 years. Many of those years I wasn’t really trying. I believed I was happy, but happiness is the wrong word to use (see Alma 41:10). I was content. I was going with the flow. I believed in philosophies similar to Karma and Nirvana. I believed that “if it were natural” and made me feel good then I should pursue it. There wasn’t a need for hope, until I came to realize the “awful state” of my situation. Once I came to this understanding, and was honest with myself about my situation, I tried to move in a different direction.

To progress, I had to sever ties to relationships, move to another city, get rid of items that triggered temptation, thoughts, feelings, or memories tied to my past. I had to completely change my media selection because when I viewed certain films, listened to certain music, or read certain material, I always, without fail, ended up where I did not want to be. This required complete honesty (Step-1) with myself and my husband about my addictions, and I continued to have hope (step-2) in the Savior’s Atonement. I believe The Lord can help me because I’ve come so far, but I haven’t come this far to just come this far! I have experienced for myself to know this truth that

[The Lord’s Spirit] will help you begin to see your choices more honestly and clearly; you will make decisions in harmony with gospel principles. For some… this miracle was almost instantaneous; for others [like me], recovery has been more gradual. However it may occur for you, you will eventually be able to say… that through “steadfastness in Christ,” you are rescued from addiction and enjoy a “perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ARP Manual

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life (2 Nephi 31:20).

Nephi

Each day, I try to act in faith as a I pray and try to read, study, and ponder the scriptures every day; this is what I cling to! I try to have faith and believe that Heavenly Father is aware of me, that Jesus Christ is His only Begotten son of God, and that I can “Hear Him!” and receive personal revelation. I know and have experienced for myself that the Holy Ghost can guide, direct, comfort and warn me of danger, so I can choose to protect myself and my family and experience joy, peace, and strength beyond my own to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ (2 Nephi 31:20).

Resources

Message of Hope from Church Leaders during Conference

Trokosi: Today’s Slavery

The Welles Report

Emily Rittenhouse

“If any of us objected to their demands, we were flogged, starved and raped brutally,” states Belinda Edinam Siamey about her everyday life as a victim of a Trokosi in West Africa (Pischiutta 2009). Belinda was sacrificed by her family to a local priest for the alleged sins of her uncle. She was a virgin female child, and therefore a perfect trokosi victim according to the practice. Belinda had no idea what her future held; she says, “I didn’t know what I would have to do at the shrine, and I didn’t understand how going away from my home and family could help my mother…I was very young, and it was terrifying” (Pischiutta 2009). Upon entering the shrine, Belinda went through the ‘rites of sacrifice’. Her head and pubic hair was shaved and a clitoral excision was performed in front of priests. Belinda became a “Wife of the…

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“To Thine Ownself be True” -Shakespeare Part I/IV

“To thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Hamlet, 1, iii, 78–80.)

The following is an excerpt from Gordon B. Hinckley’s, October 1975 General Conference address titled, Opposing Evil.

There are millions upon millions of good people in this and in other lands… [Our] situation is far from hopeless… there is no need to stand still and let the filth and violence overwhelm us, or to run in despair. The tide, high and menacing as it is, can be turned back if enough of the kind…will add their strength to the strength of the few who are now effectively working. I believe the challenge to oppose this evil is one from which… [we] cannot shrink. And if we are ever to begin, let it be now.

In that spirit, I should like to suggest four points of beginning:

The first: Begin with yourself. Reformation of the world begins with reformation of self. It is a fundamental article of our faith that “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, [and] virtuous.” (A of F 1:13.)

We cannot hope to influence others in the direction of virtue unless we live lives of virtue. The example of our living will carry a greater influence than will all the preaching in which we might indulge. We cannot expect to lift others unless we stand on higher ground ourselves. Respect for self is the beginning of virtue in men. That man who knows that he is a child of God, created in the image of a divine Father and gifted with a potential for the exercise of great and godlike virtues, will discipline himself against the sordid, lascivious elements to which all are exposed. Said Alma to his son Helaman, “Look to God and live.” (Alma 37:47.)

It is a matter of more than passing interest that the Lord, as he spoke to the multitude on the Mount, included this marvelous declaration: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”(Matt. 5:8.) A wise man once said, “Make of yourself an honest man, and there will be one fewer rascals in the world.” And it was Shakespeare who put into the mouth of one of his characters this persuasive injunction: “To thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” (Hamlet, 1, iii, 78–80.)

I should like to give to every [person] within the sound of my voice a challenge to lift his [or her] thoughts above the filth, to discipline his [or her] acts into an example of virtue, to control his [or her] words that he [or she] speak only that which is uplifting and leads to growth.

Why Families?

 

 

Why is the adversary targeting the family?

 

 

Family Proclamation to the World_3

Family Proclamation to the World_4

How does the adversary target the family?

 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf teaches, “Part of the reason for poor judgment comes from the tendency… to blur the line between belief and truth. We too often confuse belief with truth, thinking that because something makes sense or is convenient, it must be true. Conversely, we sometimes don’t believe truth or reject it—because it would require us to change or admit that we were wrong…When the opinions or ‘truths’ of others contradict our own, instead of considering the possibility that there could be information that might be helpful and augment or complement what we know, we often jump to conclusions or make assumptions that the other person is misinformed, mentally challenged, or even intentionally trying to deceive (What is Truth?).

What are the truths of the family?

 

Sister Julie B. Beck explained the doctrine of the family in her address, Teaching the Doctrine of the Family

“In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was part of Heavenly Father’s plan that Adam and Eve be sealed and form an eternal family.

The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. Adam and Eve were family leaders who chose to have a mortal experience. The Fall made it possible for them to have sons and daughters.

The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection. The plan of happiness, also called the plan of salvation, was a plan created for families. The rising generation need to understand that the main pillars of our theology are centered in the family”

 

Truths of the Family outlined in the Scriptures

 

Elder D. Todd Christofferson reminds us that “Prophets have revealed that we first existed as intelligences and that we were given form, or spirit bodies, by God, thus becoming His spirit children—sons and daughters of heavenly parents.3 There came a time in this premortal existence of spirits when, in furtherance of His desire that we “could have a privilege to advance like himself,”4 our Heavenly Father prepared an enabling plan. In the scriptures it is given various names, including “the plan of salvation,”5 “the great plan of happiness,”6 and “the plan of redemption.”7 The two principal purposes of the plan were explained to Abraham in these words:

“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these [spirits] may dwell;

“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

“And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”(Christofferson, 2015)

President Hinckley believed “it should be the blessing of every child to be born into a home where that child is welcomed, nurtured, loved, and blessed with parents, a father and a mother, who live with loyalty to one another and to their children. I am sure that none of you younger women want less than this. Stand strong against the wiles of the world. The creators of our entertainment, the purveyors of much of our literature, would have you believe otherwise. The accumulated wisdom of centuries declares with clarity and certainty that the greater happiness, the greater security, the greater peace of mind, the deeper reservoirs of love are experienced only by those who walk according to time-tested standards of virtue before marriage and total fidelity within marriage” (Hinckley, 1995).

________________________________________

 

The family is ordained of God, and the world was created for families. We learn these truths from both ancient and modern day prophets. The spirit of the Lord will testify of these truths as we diligently seek to know the truth for ourselves (2 Nephi 31:18; Moroni 10:5; John 14:26; 2 Nephi 32:5; Enos 1:3; See 1 Corinthians 12:1–12Moroni 10:8–18D&C 46:11–33; Moroni 8:26; Moses 6:64–66; see Mosiah 4:1–35:1–6).

 

References

Hinckley, G.B. (1995, November). Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World. Ensign, 25, p.102). Retrieved from  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1995/10/stand-strong-against-the-wiles-of-the-world?lang=eng

Christofferson, D.T. (2015, May). Why Marriage, Why Family. Ensign. Retrieved from https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/04/why-marriage-why-family?lang=eng&_r=1

 

See Also

Cleansing the Inner Vessel (Links to an external site.) by Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Defenders of the Family Proclamation (Links to an external site.) by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President.

Teaching the Doctrine of the Family (Links to an external site.) by Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President 2007–2012.

Why Marriage, Why Family (Links to an external site.) by Elder D. Todd Christofferson  of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.