The Second Step: Unstoppable Forces and Immovable Objects

August 15, 2006

From the LDS Addiction Recovery Manual:

Step 2: Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health

If we accept that God has all power in the universe and if we accept that he can change our desires, then how exactly does addiction happen? Why doesn’t God take away our desire for it the first time we ask? Addiction is bad, after all. Why would God want us to have it? Why would He make us prone to it? Why am I the way I am?

These are hard questions. The truth is that sometimes, God steps in ways that are universally acknowledged as spectacular. Alma the Younger and Paul both experienced heavenly visitations in the midst of sin and their lives changed for the better. Of course, Laman and Lemuel also had heavenly visitors, so that standard may not be the universal solution we sometimes believe it is.

In any case, God can only do so much. I said earlier that God works with our desires. I believe that to be true, but it is not just that simple. In order to allow God to work on our desires, we have to want God to do it. Now that sounds simple enough in the abstract, but it gets complicated quite quickly.

First of all, as an addict, you haven’t wanted God to alter your desire for this particular sin for a long time. Sure, you pay lip service to the desire. You will drunkenly slur that you wish he would take it away. As you gaze at your empty wallet or your empty house, you might have thought, “I can’t do this anymore. It is destroying/has destroyed my life. I wish I didn’t want this so bad.” However, that wish shows the problem. The desire is ingrained. You cannot just wish it away. You want to want your addiction. That’s all there is to it.

And besides, how do you change a desire? If I want a milkshake, it is hard for me to suddenly decide that I want some broccoli instead. I can tell myself that broccoli is better for me, I can tell myself that I don’t want the fat and the sugar in the milkshake, I can even make myself eat the broccoli instead of the milkshake. But I will still think, “a milkshake would have been better” or “I’ll have that milkshake that I really wanted once I lose this weight” or “I’ll just pretend this broccoli is a milkshake” or something equally silly. When you want a milkshake, you want a milkshake. Nothing else will be the same and you know it.

So, if it is impossible for me to not want something that I want, what do I do if I want something that is destructive, like alcohol, pn, or binge eating? This is the sort of question that one asks when one is almost ready to turn to God for help. Once a person has done all that they can do, once they have fasted all that they can fast, read every book imaginable, made elaborate promises and failed to keep them, once you have realized that you actually are addicted, that, in spite of everything, you really do want to indulge the addiction again, that your life has gone completely off kilter, it is then that you might be ready to ask God for help.

What does God do? He changes our desires. Over time and with his intervention, we stop wanting to act out in addiction. We find other, more productive, ways to deal with the stress of everyday life. The appeal of the addiction is replaced with an appeal to better things to do. But he only does this when we ask him to. He can only change our desire for any sin if we sincerely ask him to.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that he will take away all our unrighteous desires immediately when we first ask him. He does it in His own way and in His own time. Most people continue to deal with illicit desires for a while (although, occasionally, some people do lose all their wrongheaded desires overnight). Instead, what we should be doing is giving them to Him.

What does God want us to sacrifice? Every sin. When we are in sin, we rarely want to approach God, as we want to appear clean before Him. But really, who do we think we are fooling? We believe in a God who is aware of all of our acts and we believe in a God who loves us anyway. To that end, when we face temptation or unrighteous desires, we need to turn to Him immediately and ask Him to replace it with better desires or to simply take it away. He will do it. That is what the Atonement is about, Christ’s willingness to take our darker aspects upon himself so as to relieve us. He will help you. He will change you. You do not have to be addicted forever.


2 Responses to “The Second Step: Unstoppable Forces and Immovable Objects”

  1. Leigh Says:

    I used this essay yesterday in my Gospel Doctrine class. It was hit the point very well. Thank you!

  2. Oligurl Says:

    hanks for that post. I’m addicted to huffing hairspray and to pain pills. I got out of rehab Feb ’11 and I’m still in out patient rehab. I have a sponsor and a great support group.
    I have the desire to stop and I go to AA meetings both non lds based and lds based.
    I’m 104 days clean. And I’m still struggling with this addiction. Everyday is a fight to stay sober. Sometimese I wish I had a different kind of disease that can be cured. This disease I feel I can’t handle. I know that I should give my sins away to the Lord but thats all I think of night and day. I even try to make excuses to use. Like I’m so bored I should just use. Im depressed. I just want to do it one time and hide it no one will know. It’s a struggle. And these posts and AA helps me. AA reminds me where I don’t want to go. And that’s back to day 1 of sobriety. Thanks for your posts this blog site is really helping me.

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