…I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of Men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them.
~ 1 Nephi Chapter 3 ~
People approach recovery with the false perception that there may be an easy way through the process. A shortcut or modification where we are able to accommodate our own personal journey and present circumstances. These thoughts, and actual attempts, of short cutting our recovery process fail to acknowledge the importance of the necessary steps we are to engage in. In order to bring about the Lord’s tender mercies and blessings require our strict obedience to His will and desire. Our failure to acknowledge strict obedience means we fail to bring God’s blessings into our own lives and prevents us from moving forward toward health and wellness and healing.
There is a reason many people may fail in achieving a successful recovery program. It is usually because: (1) They are convinced that some of the process that has worked for many others do not apply to them; (2) We do not take in consideration the importance of following a strict program and direction; And, (3) we convince ourselves that it is too difficult to obey and comply with the direction provided. These three perceptions lead us toward further frustration and inability to experience a mighty power unto deliverance.
Fortunately, there is a significant spiritual promise God provides us when we are ready to surrender our lives and will over to His divine and sovereign care. Nephi expresses this blessing in that our caring Heavenly Father already has a way for us to follow through and accomplish those things he has called us to obey. The challenge is to recognize when we are getting in the way of our own spiritual progress and growth through the recovery process.
Those recommendations do not apply to me
There is a difference in holding a healthy view of recovery as being idiosyncratic. Meaning, recovery is person-centered and individualized. However, there is an established program and process that works. No, I am not talking about a twelve-step program (however, it is the foremost and most common program that has provided insight and change to individual and family lives). I am talking about a program that implements a present focused mindset (mindfulness) and is based on one’s own identified values and beliefs (spirituality).
What are the most important recommendations? As a professional, I believe these recommendations focus on the nature and spirit of what the twelve steps prescribe. In fact, it is the bases of all recovery programs and spiritual practices. That is, having a spiritual awakening and the need for insight and help through the process to become whole (mind, body, and spirit).
Dan Mager shared his insights on the need for a spiritual awakening and what constitutes spiritual awakening in his article – What Constitutes a Spiritual Awakening? Mager observes the approach Carl Jung held regarding spiritual awakening:
Carl Jung viewed addiction as a spiritual malady and addicts as frustrated spiritual seekers. He believed the craving for altered states of consciousness reflected a spiritual thirst for wholeness, and that only those who have a spiritual awakening could successfully overcome addiction. Jung’s position was ultimately incorporated into twelve-step recovery, specifically Step Twelve.
Without this spiritual awakening, one may not fully incorporate healthy ways to begin working on a recovery program that brings about health and wellness – including feeling a sense of wholeness.
Spiritual awakening leads to realizing our need and dependency upon something greater than ourselves. For Christians, this is our need for Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father to come in and intervene. We willingly submit ourselves over to His care for us. This includes willingness to walk in obedience to His will and desire for our lives and recovery.
Some of the recommendations are not important
One of the stumbling blocks that occur in a person’s recovery effort is the minimization of how important certain recommendations may appear. This typically shows up when it comes to discussing and processing trivial and common sense issues. Sometimes, it is the very trivial, simple, and common sense recommendations that produce the most significant responses for healthy recovery. Yet, we tend to murmur and grumble over those simple and common sense recommendations.
In 1 Nephi 3:5, we read what Lehi says about Nephi’s older brothers:
And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.
In one session, a patient described how they were tired of having everything go wrong throughout their day and how it seemed unfair and not feeling they’ve accomplished something. Remembering the video of a Navy officer at a graduation ceremony, I asked this individual if they ever took the time to make their bed? This is one of the first principles the speaker spoke about. A simple, and yet very trivial task, and profound principle. Have you made your bed in the morning?
The simple act of discipline of making one’s bed in the morning has profound significance in life. Yet, we tend to trivialize this simple and common sense act. Many times, our Heavenly Father will ask us to participate and complete something that we may deem inconsequential. Something so trivial. That is the response I had received from said patient, What does making my bed have anything to do with my day?
The unfortunate aspect is that we miss out on the blessings and disciplines some of the trivial tasks provide us. Some patients do not feel that a morning time spent in prayer and meditation is significant. Others feel that going to meetings consistently is important.
It’s not for me, maybe others may find it helpful but not for me.
Meditation is very awkward, I don’t see how it benefits anyone.
That takes too much work and time for me to think about it right now.
It is not until we actually give ourselves over to implementing, and following through on, these simple, and yet trivial, practices. We begin to see the significant impact and growth it offers us in our recovery program.
Sometimes it is too difficult to follow through with the recommendations
Conducting an assessment on an individual, one of the push backs I receive from prospective patients is this: How am I supposed to attend groups three times a week? That is too difficult for me with work and all that I have going on. This comes as a response to the recommendation for an individual to engage in and complete an intensive outpatient treatment program. Especially if they were referred to the agency by probation, department of corrections, or an attorney.
When Lehi requested that his three sons return to Jerusalem, the two older sons complained that this was a hard thing for them to do. Nephi reminded them of the truth:
As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us. Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord … (1 Nephi 3:15-16)
Remember, Nephi expressed a principle of truth – The Lord will not command us to do something that He has not already prepared a way for us to fulfill that which he commanded. Our duty is to be faithful in our desire to walk in obedience, faithfully keeping His will and desire ahead of our own will and desire.
In recovery, as we give ourselves, our life, our will, our attitudes, beliefs, perception, fears, and everything over to God – we are also agreeing that we will faithfully walk in His will and desire. That does not mean we are instantly perfect. What it means is that we grow by faltering. We may grumble and complain, even sometimes attempt to do it our own way. Inevitably, we come to realize and learn to further trust in God’s divine and Sovereign plan for our own lives.
It is when we become confident and assured in our faithfulness in following God’s will and desire for us that we experience the tender mercies of God and receive spiritual enlightenment, and become mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
Action Steps – what you are able to implement for your own personal recovery
1 – Take a moment for a personal inventory to see where you find certain recommendations hard, not applicable, or not important for you to follow. In what way are they difficult for you? How do you view them as not applicable for you and your recovery? How do you view them as not being important for you to comply with? How has this caused difficulty in your ability to engage in a healthy and mindful spiritual recovery program?
2 – Identify what God is calling you to walk in obedience as it pertains to your spiritual life and recovery.
3 – Process what it will take for you to overcome your fears and perceptions to begin walking faithfully in obedience to God’s direction and will for your life and recovery program.
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