Help. Hope. Healing.

His Long-Suffering

By Rex Goode

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Over the years I’ve operated LDSR.org, I’ve seen a lot of people come to our support forums and often go as quickly as they came. Some post, get what they feel they need, and disappear. Some leave, thinking they had finally reached a point of no longer needing the support we offer, only to return later having dug deeper into their addictive behavior than before. I hope that some truly were helped enough to no longer need us.

It seems that discouragement is probably the biggest cause for people who disappear. I know a lot of people who have just settled into their addiction as a way of life. They make attempts here and there to commit to recovery, but mostly have accepted life as it is.

Even though I see and read on the forums sometimes that people feel they just don’t have time for recovery, I still suspect that the root cause of not devoting the time and energy necessary is discouragement. Having tried and failed, in their way of thinking, so many times, it just becomes a lower priority.

Such thinking is at the heart of addictive behavior. What has conditioned an addict to be addicted is the subconscious belief that only those things that produce immediate results are worth pursuing. The things that people become addicted to are the things that deliver immediate and intense results.

It is no wonder, then, that addicts who are interested in recovery go at it with the mindset of expecting to do a little work and then move on to something else. When it turns out that the things in life really worth pursuing come over time, with hope, faith, and commitment, discouragement sets in. The other things in life they want become a higher priority because they take less hope, faith, and commitment, and of course, less time.

Those other priorities may even seem to be more important. Work, family, church service, and all of the other things that good people do begin to take precedence over addressing the one thing that may threaten the loss of these same things. I’ve said before that this becomes a matter of building a fortress with the enemy inside (see The Good That I Would Do and The Supremacy of the Internal).

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin described the way to salvation:

I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—

I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.

 We are assured in this that God is long-suffering and patient. Even though we know that for him, time is under his power, he deals with us in our time reference. He doesn’t mind processes that take us a lot of our time, if they lead to salvation. We’re the ones who manage our time grudgingly and expect immediate results.

With the spiritual things that are effective in confronting addiction, quick results in terms of arresting behavior are possible. We have the capacity to start up a program of study, prayer, hymn-singing, and seeking support and have our behavior immediately improve. This is a good thing. Yet, if we approach these things as fixes to our addictions, we have no motivation to continue them as a way of life. As soon as the behavior improves, they are abandoned and the result is deeper addiction.

We should approach the need for a personal, spiritual program as something that is a new way of life we want to lead with the incidental, though important result of improvement in our addictive behavior. As with a lot of other things, it is a matter of how we approach something.

If we approach recovery with the same patience and long-suffering that God shows us, being determined to live our lives in the light of the gospel, praying for daily needs, making spiritual music our mainstay, and seeking the support and wisdom of those who have traveled the road before, we will find that addiction or not, these things are the best part of life.

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