Help. Hope. Healing.

Crutches

By Tim B

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When talking to addicts (or anybody else) about the solution to SA (or any other addiction or problem), I’m very clear that the solution is God. Getting closer to God, building a strong relationship with God, relying on God, coming unto Christ and being perfected in him, are all different ways of saying that God has the power to heal and save us, and nothing and no one else does. We have our contribution to make to that process, but our contribution does not contain the power to make the changes we want.

Since this is the solution, I tend to look at all the other things that get brought forward as being crutches — things that can be helpful, but temporarily, after which they can become unhealthy and inadequate because they aren’t God. Internet filters, rubber bands, humming hymns, fear of embarrassment, fear of spouse, fear of Church discipline, and fear of losing Temple Recommends can work to help keep someone from acting out. For a time. Left to themselves, they will fail. All of them.

I’ve put them down in the past, because partial solutions aren’t as significant as ultimate solutions. Let’s get down to the power, and not mess with the other things. But my experience tells me otherwise.

I’ll be following Rex’s lead in posting my story here before too long, but, for now, let’s just say that I was disfellowshipped (DFed) six years ago for sexual misconduct that goes beyond viewing pornography and masturbating, both of which were going on as well. I have not repeated the misconduct for which I was DFed, but p/mb continued going on for nearly a year. I then had a spell of sobriety, punctuated by some brief pornography binges, that lasted through my Disciplinary Council (DC) for reinstatement to full fellowship two and a half years later. The slip that broke up that period of sobriety led to some serious binges that lasted for a year or so.

Then, I began I dialogue with my new bishop aimed at me receiving a Temple Recommend (TR). He and my SP were both satisfied that I was worthy of the TR by February of this year. Due to problems processing the paperwork documenting my DC of reinstatement, I have not been able to receive that TR yet, but that should be coming in the next month. I’m looking forward to returning to the temple for the first time in nearly fourteen years. They’ve changed things at least once since then.

While I was talking to the bishop, I let him know that I was concerned about using my TR as a crutch — something I was afraid of losing as a means of maintaining my sobriety. He thought about that, and said that he thought it wasn’t a bad crutch to use. And I thought about it, and decided he was right, and I started rethinking my approach to crutches.

My rethinking pointed out to me that it was when I was anticipating my DC of reinstatement that I had my longest period of sobriety in the past decade, and that it was the hope of receiving my TR that has now built my longest period of sobriety since that point. Across this period, I’ve been working on my relationship with God, the ultimate solution, but having those crutches along the way has been helpful in filling in the gaps during the periods when my spirituality has been less-than-strong, and when it would have been easy to slip. Having something hanging over me helps me make a good choice when I want to make a bad one, and that can motivate me when my brain is reliving past sexual and pornographic experiences and I don’t want to have a conversation with God right that second.

So my new thought is that it is good to have a robust bag of tricks to gain and maintain sobriety that includes the ultimate solution and many other interim ideas that can be useful at different times. Building a strong relationship with God is a process that doesn’t have an end, and having some helps along the way that can help with getting by in a sober fashion is also good. Using crutches is better than falling on your face, and is helpful while learning how to walk the path of recovery and sobriety, or during particularly difficult points. If I can maintain long-term sobriety, in part, by my desire to retain my TR, then no harm has been done at worst, and maintaining long-term sobriety is a very good thing.

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2 Responses to “Crutches”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Tim,

    Great post! I started having the creeps about filters when people would come to this site, be desperate about their pornography problems, and then come back a day or two later to tell us all about how they had solved the problem with a filter. I think filters are a great idea, but only to buy some time while the weightier matters of faith and spirituality are addressed.

    Rex

  2. Tim B said:

    The desire for a quick cure is endemic in society. Hard work and patience aren’t the hallmarks of addicts. And Mormon’s expect them at least as much — put hands on someone’s head, or say a prayer, and “Whamo” solution or somebody doesn’t have enough faith.

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