Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm My Own

Our Primary class used to meet in the church's kitchen.  There was a shortage of classrooms in the building.

I remember sitting in the cold, metal folding chair next to my best friend as the teacher poured salt into her cupped hand.
"Isn't it pretty?" She asked, her voice soft and sweet. We all nodded.  It was fast Sunday.  Any kind of food -even SALT -looked fabulous.
"Now look..." the tone of her voice took a turn from soft to foreboding.
She sprinkled pepper in the salt.
"It's dirty now," she said, "That's what happens when we sin."
She then went on to tell us how to keep ourselves unspotted.  Maybe the lesson was on the Atonement.  I don't know.  What I DO know is that the salt stuck with me.
Instead of seeing the pepper as an opportunity to draw closer to my Savior, I saw it as a huge no-no. 
I would SAVE MYSELF from it, and I knew I could because I went to church every Sunday and worked hard to do everything right.
Working hard is what I DID.  It's what my family did.  I was up to working my way into Heaven.
No pepper for me!  I'd make SURE of it.

I was never one to want to break rules.  I had a conscience so big it fairly stomped on me.  I never snuck out at night.  Never ditched.  Never talked-back.  Got good grades.  I was dead-set on working my way to Heaven. 
I knew how to do it, too.
Church history, magnify my calling, serve, pray, love, show charity, do my visiting teaching, write in my journal every day, don't fight, read my scriptures, attend the temple, keep my surroundings in order, cook, sew, crochet, work on food storage, get my 72-hour kit, get married in the temple, have babies, FHE, tithing, the word of wisdom, tell the truth, watch only the best media, dress modestly...

The list went on.  It weighed heavy on me at times.  Most of the time, I considered myself as failing.
So, like anyone who is in the business of saving themselves, I punished myself.
I cut myself.  My own sort of sharp lashings.
I knew the phrase "Saved after all I could do" meant that it was up to me to work out my own salvation... to be my own savior.
Saving myself meant judging myself.

Through it all, I did pray.  But my prayers were more of a report than heart-felt communication.  I spoke with only the utmost respect, using my very best Thee-Thous.

More than love, I sought gold-star stickers from the Lord.

The shame I felt as my own savior was immense.  When I stepped out of line -even SLIGHTLY -I was encompassed about with shame.  I took it out on myself because I knew... I KNEW it was my job to handle my own garbage.
I was responsible, and that's what responsible people do.
They don't bother others.  They most certainly don't bother the Lord, who -by the way- had more important issues on His hands than my garbage.  I knew it.
And so I would cut my shoulders which were always perfectly hid by all of my modest shirts, and I would feel immediate relief.  Justice had been served.

As I begin my Step 4 inventory for the second time, I have more clarity.
So I sit down with a blank page and a pen and I write at the top of the page.

"How I Became My Own Savior"

Does your inventory have a title?


  1. I love you sweet lady:) I am praying for your to be guided as you work your inventory today.
    This post spoke so clearly to me of my own self-saving years. I still tend to think at times that God has enough people to worry about doesn't need to listen to my long sobs stories, but I am so wrong.

    My prayers are incredibly painful at times, but I love sharing my soul with God and Christ. I never want to go back to the repetitive, robotic prayers again.

    Reading this post reminded me of my straight laced daughter. I can't help, but feel a desire to listen to her more, let he share her thoughts and feelings with me, and teach her to pray the way I do now.


    1. I see patterns of my own in my kiddos as well -I hope my recovery efforts will bless them.

  2. We are soul sisters!!! This is me, but I didn't realize until I read these words: "How I became my own Savior." I read those the first time I skimmed through this post, before I had time to sit through and read it. Once again, this trial in my life has been good because it has taught me how much "I" need the Atonement and how many things I need to work on and just how much I need the Savior. Like you, I haven't done a Step 4 inventory yet, I am on Step 2 (again). I kept getting stuck at Step 4, but this time around, I feel like I am more aware of things about myself, in a good (sometimes painful) way.

    Recovery is hard, but it rocks! And so do you!

    1. Yes! I had to stop at Step 4 and start the Steps over again, and Step 4 is much more clear this time around. Not easier -just more clear ;)

  3. I am still on Step 2, but I am excited to get to Step 4 now! In placing the responsibility of my own salvation on myself, I often forget that even when we are wearing ourselves out by making good choices, there is still a huge place in our lives for the Savior and His Atonement.

    Thinking of you today while you work on you list....


    1. Step 2 has been my favorite. Not a day goes by that I don't apply it. I hope you're enjoying it as well!

  4. What a crucial realization that most LDS folk miss. The cool thing about addiction recovery is that it forces us to depend on the Lord, as it should be. It's the whole point of the gospel and it's entirely missed by a huge percentage of us. Congratulations on making the connection, Alicia!

    1. I guess none of us want to bother the Lord with our "petty" issues. Or maybe we don't want to admit we need help? or maybe both. Probably both.