Chapter 2--Change of Heart and Redemption

          We may find ourselves impatient for change to occur because we are anxious to stop hurting.   While continuing to have hope for changes in the near future, we also need to accept that some changes may take a lifetime or longer.   Our loved ones may choose not to change. They may struggle with having the motivation to change, may relapse, and may continue to be tempted. While we need to allow them time and space to change and repent, we do not tolerate abusive behavior in any form   No matter our situation, we can actively hope and pray.  

How can we develop and demonstrate faith in the face of adversity?

How can faith help us heal even if our loved ones fail to maintain recovery?

            As we try to make sense of our difficult situation, we may speculate why and how our loved ones became addicted. We may feel we are somehow responsible. As parents, we may worry about what we could have done differently. As spouses, we may wonder if we failed to meet the needs of our husband or wife and ask ourselves such questions as “Am I not good enough?” and “What more could I have done?” When things do not turn out well, we are tempted to blame ourselves. This type of thinking may lead us to improperly feel responsible for other people’s choices, resulting in undeserved guilt and despair.
          A vital element is the principle of agency—the ability and privilege to make our own choices. As we study and understand this principle, the Spirit will testify to us that we are not the cause of our loved ones’ addiction.   While the exact reason for their addiction may be complex, they are responsible for the choices they make. They are likely to make bad choices when dealing with their addictions. Part of the process of recovery and healing is to make mistakes but to take full responsibility for their decisions. Our success and happiness in life should not be measured by how other people choose to exercise their agency.  
Have you felt responsible in some way for your loved one’s poor choices? If so, how has this affected you?
          Our loved one’s addiction may impact how we see ourselves and how we see life. We may begin to define ourselves by our experience with their addiction, as it can sometimes seem all encompassing. We may feel powerless because we have little control over the consequences of those choices. We can use our agency to better our situation and make righteous choices regardless of our circumstances.  It is important that we remember who we are and why we are here on earth. God is not only our Ruler and Creator, but also our Heavenly Father.  No matter what is happening in our lives, we can focus on the eternal stability of His love for us. This is where our process of healing begins. In the midst of our trials, as we turn our hearts to our Father in Heaven, His love and the healing power of His Son’s Atonement can help us gain courage and hope.

What are some things we can do to strengthen our relationship with God?  

   God said "Be still and know that I AM God."    God speaks as I AM and calls himself I AM.   The 2nd commandment admonishes not to take the name of God in vain.  By His own words, He was specifically referring to the words I AM.   He was instructing the people in the power of I AM and how anything attached to it contains the  power of the name.  Whatever is named becomes manifest. Therefore, it is perilous to use the words I AM carelessly or attached to anything negative.  A commonplace misuse of that power would be to say--"I am unhappy".  Such a statement invariably calls forth more unhappiness. If people say I am weak, poor, depressed, afraid, sick, addict and so on, they continue to attract that in their life. Far better to acknowledge any situation and follow up with I AM going to do something about it.  Observe language and thought patterns around the words I AM.  Regularly take inventory on thoughts and  words. Notice how many ideas were originally suggested by well-meaning others, dating all the way back to childhood, up to and including today.  Feelings are often hurt or there is upset or anger about something that happens or what someone says. These moments bring negative beliefs to the surface that are untrue and become fuel for any addiction in us.   In most of us, they boil down to "I am unlovable, I am invisible, I am wrong, I am worthless, I am a bad parent, bad spouse, I am an addict." The list goes on and on.
          Bring speech habits fully into consciousness so that there is intentional respect for the higher power of I AM. Such phrases as: I can't help it, I've always been that way, I am hard wired that way are statements about the past.  Phrases such as I don't deserve prosperity, I am unlucky, Things never work out for me, I am unhealthy and cannot be healed.  They are often what we don't want . Jesus showed us how to use the words I AM:  ”the door"  "the good shepherd"  "bread of life" "light of the world" "way, truth and light"  "true vine"  "Alpha and Omega", beginning and end"  "resurrection and the life" and so forth.
          Circumstances don't have to dictate how we think about something. We have a choice of what we think. We can select a different thought. When experiencing discomfort or sadness, rather than trying to change the thought, just put it back onto the conveyor belt and select a different thought.   Keep doing this until a thought is selected that allows good feelings and there is no more self-condemnation for creating unhappy thoughts. This is what can enable us to choose happiness and follow God's plan.  Some replacement possibilities include: I am capable, I am strong,  I am free from all unhealthy cravings, I am happy. I AM supremely grateful for all my blessings. I AM a son or daughter of God.

Can you think of any other positive "I AM" statements?  

            The apostle Paul informs us that hardness of heart is behind all the addictions and evils of the human race (Rom. 1:21-25). Oswald Chambers writes, "It is by the heart that God is perceived [known] and not by reason . . . so that is what faith is: God perceived by the heart." This is why God tells us in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." He knows that to lose heart is to lose everything. Sadly, most of us watch the oil level in our car more carefully than we watch over the life of our heart.

          No matter how difficult it is for us and no matter how relief is sought by our loved ones—through a professional therapist, doctor, ecclesiastical leader, friend, concerned parent, or loved one— those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments.

What is a broken heart and a contrite spirit?

          The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed in Him, and born again.

 Personal Learning and Application

Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these answers will provide you with new insights.  Go back to the questions in the chapter.  Write your answers.  Each time you go through a chapter, your answers might change.

  1.  What obstacles— including attitudes and feelings—keep you from giving away “all [your] sins” and more fully receiving the Spirit of the Lord?

2.  List some of your character weaknesses, and next to them list the strengths they may become as you come unto Christ.

3.  As you study the scriptures listed below, prayerfully consider how you can apply the principles they teach.  Write about them.

          Psalm 82:6 (We are gods, children of the Most High)

          Acts 17:29 (We are the offspring of God)

4.  Write down some positive "I AM" statements.

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