Alicia's note: My husband came to me and asked if he could post a little on my blog, and I thenceforth because the most excited girl in addiction blogland.
This is me... handing off the mic.
Hello everyone, my name is Danny...This is where you all say, "Hi Danny." Little 12-step humor there :-D
Anyway, I recently read Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon and after reading it felt prompted to share what came to me. I don't know why I'm supposed to share it but felt strongly that I should.
When I read the story of Lehi's dream it seemed to apply to addiction. I had not ever really thought of this applying to addiction, but as I recently read the story and thought about it, it seems so clear. Let me give a back story first...
In the story, Lehi is met by an angel and is asked to follow him. As Lehi follows the angel, he eventually finds himself in a "dark and dreary waste." Lehi said he was in this place "for the space of many hours." At this point, Lehi realizes he'd better ask for the Lord's help. He said he asked that the Lord would have mercy on him. As Lehi puts his trust in the Lord and asks for his help, he sees a "large and spacious field." Lehi says while in the field, he beheld a tree. He says that he could see that this tree had fruit "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy."
Lehi doesn't hesitate. He says:
"And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit."
The next thing Lehi wants is for his family to partake and he immediately looks for them. He sees a river of water and sees Nephi, Sariah, and Sam standing at the head of the river. Lehi calls to them to come and partake and they do. He sees Laman and Lemuel and likewise calls out to them but they do not come to partake of the fruit.
Lehi further describes the iron rod and straight and narrow path that led to the tree. He also describes the mist of darkness that arises and the great and spacious building. He describes those who became lost in the mist, those who partook of the fruit but felt ashamed because they were scorned by those who were in the building, and those who partook of the fruit and stayed despite the scorning.
(via lds.org)We then learn in 1Nephi 11 that Nephi wants to know the meaning of what his father saw. Nephi is shown the tree and also tells of the beauty of the tree. He tells the spirit that he wants to know the "interpretation" of the tree. Nephi is shown the birth of the Savior and after seeing His birth, is asked if he knows the meaning of the tree. Nephi responds, "Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things." Nephi is shown the ministry of the Savior and is told that the iron rod is the word of God which leads to the fountain of living water or the tree of life both of which represented the love of God.
Finally Nephi is shown the baptism of Christ, He saw more of His ministry, and the miracles he performed. He saw the the twelve apostles of the Savior, and is also shown the judgment and crucifixion of Christ. After this we learn that the meaning of the building is the pride of the world -that this pride fights against the Savior and His servants. The angel tells Nephi that the pride of the world would eventually fall and great would be that fall.
Now you're probably wondering when I am going to get to how this relates to recovery. Truth be told the part that came to me the strongest came in the first part of this vision but as I have studied it further, more has come so bear with me here I'm finally getting to it. :)
To me, this relates to addiction in a very real way. All of us in the recovery world, whether the addict or a family member of someone in addiction, have traveled in that dark and dreary waste. Many, like Lehi did with the angel, have tried to follow the Lord and do what's right. The addict is asking "I'm trying to do what's right, why can't I stay away from this?" The family member is asking "I'm trying to do what's right, why is this happening to me?"
While in the dark and dreary waste, we eventually reach a point where turning to the the Lord is the only option we have if we want out of the wasteland we find ourselves in. When I found the 12 steps and began to work them, I started to find answers. Although it may took some time and a LOT of prayer, eventually the Lord gives me clarity as He did Lehi. I was able to see clearly where I needed go in order to get out of the dreary waste and into recovery.
Think back to what Lehi said after he was taken from the dark and dreary waste. He said that he beheld a large and spacious field. When I read this I pictured in my mind's eye: Lehi coming out of a thick forest to a large and spacious field. I thought about how difficult it is to see while in the thick of the trees and how easy it is to see everything when in the clearing. I also pictured myself in Lehi's shoes coming to that same clarity. As I have clung to and incorporated the words of recovery, (which are essentially the words of the Savior), I have begun to taste of it's fruits.
When this happens, truly happens, our souls are filled with inexplicable joy. It is everything that we longed for for so long!!! It is every bit as beautiful as described by Nephi. We finally are able to find peace. We begin to feel of God's inexplicable love for us. Which I have personally begun to experience.
Now this DOES NOT mean it's over. To me recovery, like living the gospel, is not something that is arrived at or something we just get. It is something that must continually be worked at. The farther we get in recovery, the more the Lord will teach us. We may have read the 12 steps a million times. Doesn't matter, the Lord can still teach us if we are willing. Do you know how many times I've heard this particular story? A LOT!!! And yet, the Lord thought me something new here. The addict and the family member alike will have to cling to the iron rod to stay on the straight and narrow path of recovery.
(via ldswomenofgod.com)Like Lehi, when we taste of the fruits of recovery , we want the same for those we know who are addicted or affected by a loved one's addiction. We may call out to them and they may be like Nephi, Sariah, and Sam and come and partake, or they may be like Lamen and Lemuel and ignore us. They may even be like those in the spacious building and their pride may get in the way of their need for recovery. I think I was, to some extent, in that building... thinking recovery was for those who were really sick, thinking my addiction was only a little problem that I could overcome on my own. But like in Lehi's dream, my pride fell, and in my world, great was the fall of it.
Lastly we may even experience ridicule from those in that building. It may be family members or friends. It may be those who we reach out to who we KNOW need recovery. It may be those who have sought our help or advice. My prayer is that we will NOT be ashamed but will stay strong and cling to the Savior.
I hope that this makes sense. It seemed so clear to me when I read it. I guess because to me, the way that it is explained in Nephi as it pertains to the gospel, and the way it was revealed to me as it pertains to recovery, are one and the same. Because to me the gospel and recovery are one in the same.
It the Savior who heals us in both aspects of our lives.
Alicia's note: From here on out, should Danny choose to share anything else, you will be able to find all of his posts under the label "Danny" in my purdy little label cloud to our right. And just so you know, you should encourage him to write more. again. and more.