Chapter 6--Support and Prayer


          No one wants to suffer. They simply can't figure out how to make the pain stop. They don't know how to reject that indulging in their addiction  so willingly offers. Too often an inner deceptive voice says, "What's the use, I'll never change." Lie.
And they tell themselves next time they will be stronger and this will be their last. Unfortunately sometimes it is their last of anything here on earth.
     Addiction isn't the problem. The real problem is knowing how to deal with pain. It's unresolved hurt and lack of understanding of what our value is. But really, it's escape from pain. Then the addiction becomes a problem.
Shame keeps us from reaching out. Shame keeps others from reaching in. And sometimes, we simply have to let go and just love people until they are willing to help themselves. But never stop loving and don't ever condemn!
Remember we all have our addictions. Some are simply more socially acceptable than others.   We all need help.
          In addition to relying on the Lord, seeking support from others can be helpful as we face our loved ones’ addictions. We don’t need to suffer alone.  Sharing our struggles may be an uncomfortable and vulnerable experience. Many of us feel fearful or ashamed about our loved ones’ addictions and do not want others to know about the problem. We may be concerned that others will judge us or our loved ones. The one who is struggling with addiction may ask that we not tell anyone, even ecclesiastical leaders. However, it is acceptable and important to ask for the help we need or desire.
          The Lord will guide us to the support we need. He has promised, “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13).   God often answers our prayers: God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”  God has and will put people into our lives to help us and support us during our trials.

What support or assistance do you feel you need?

How will you seek support from others?

          We may not always have a positive experience as we reach out to others. While an individual may love us, they may also be misinformed, misguided, or unable to help. However, a bad experience should not deter us from finding the support we need. It is important to consider what resources or individuals are appropriate sources of help, when and how to share personal struggles with others, and how to use wisdom in deciding what is safe to share. Some questions to consider include: Will the person I’m sharing with be able to provide me with support? Will they have my best interests at heart as well as those of my loved ones? Will they keep the information confidential and be nonjudgmental?  

What obstacles get in the way of you seeking support?

Whom do you feel prompted to reach out to for support?


Consider the following as you reach out for comfort and support.

Family
Our families have the potential to provide a tremendous source of love and support. One reason the Lord has provided us with families is to listen and be available when it feels like there is no one else. Trusted family members may provide the validation and support we need to continue to face our challenges with determination.

Friends
True friends stand by us through difficult times. They listen to our problems and experiences with understanding and love. They give us ideas and suggestions that we may not think about. Genuine friends will tell us the truth even when it is hard, and they will respect our agency and not tell us how to live our lives.
Art by Amberle Stoffers

Mentors
Those who have been through experiences with addicted loved ones may provide valuable insight and guidance. Though not everything that worked for them will work for us, we can still learn from their experience. Their insight and understanding can help us find greater healing and peace.

Support Groups
 Support group meetings can provide confidential settings where people gather to share their faith and hope. Having a safe place to share our feelings openly and honestly with others who understand or who are going through similar challenges is a great blessing to us.  

Professional Help
Many of us face significant emotional challenges as we strive to find peace and healing. If therapy is available, a compassionate therapist who is supportive of gospel principles may help us face unresolved issues and view them with a new degree of courage or perspective. Therapy is not necessary for everyone, but it may be one helpful option to consider as we strive to find ultimate peace and healing through the Savior.
           "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;   Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." Another translation goes as follows: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16-17).

           How would you feel if a spouse or a friend said to you, "I think you need some counseling, and so I've arranged for it. You start tomorrow; it'll probably take years"? Most of us would get more than a little defensive. We may be prideful--"I don't need any therapy, thank you very much". The fact that it's become a profession-Freud and Prozac and all that--has kept most of us from realizing that, in fact, we do need counseling. All of us. Christ sends us the Holy Spirit as Counselor; that ought to make it clear. We apparently need quite a lot of counsel. The Spirit isn't just stopping in to give us a tune-up; not even an annual checkup. It has come to stay.  If only we "receive" it by being ready and watching for every communication.  Answers to guide us and comfort will come.

What types of support have made the biggest difference to you?

What kind of support WOULD make the most difference in your life at this time?

How can you be a support to others passing through similar difficulties?
         
          Just knowing a doctrine intellectually is not what the Bible means by knowing the truth. It's only when it reaches down deep into the heart that the truth begins to set us free, just as a key must penetrate a lock to turn it, or as rainfall must saturate the earth down to the roots in order for your garden to grow.
"Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being" (Ps. 51:6). Getting it there is the work of the stream we'll call Counseling.  Stream of Counseling doesn't just flow to us directly from Christ. It flows through his people as well. We need others-and need them deeply.  Yes, Jesus speaks to us personally. But often he works through another human being.   We are usually too close to our lives to see what's going on. Because it's our story we're trying to understand, we sometimes don't know what's true or false, what's real or imagined. We can't see the forest for the trees. It often takes the eyes of someone else we can tell our story to--and bare our soul. The more dire our straits, the more difficult it can be to hear directly from God.
          In every great story the hero or heroine must turn to someone older or wiser for the answer to some riddle. Dorothy seeks the Wizard; Frodo turns to Gandalf; and Luke is mentored by Obi Wan Kanobi.

Can you think of any other stories where someone older or wiser is turned to for an answer?

          It's said that prayer is our way of contacting God and meditation is the means by which we get the reply. Prayer is a way of contacting and tapping into higher spiritual knowledge, a connection to higher realms.  It's an interface in which the small voice may be heard.  We give thanks or ask for miracles.   Prayer is like talking to a good friend on the phone, a reassuring happy time.  The difference is that unlike any human friend, the friend at the end of the universal telephone line knows everything about us and all our secrets, so there's no point in trying to hide anything.
           It's easier to contact those who we pray to when everyday thoughts don't crowd our minds and we can be still, for it is in stillness that we can hear the voice.  We can ask questions, tell of our sorrows, joys, good things, funny things.  What we truly wish to pray for often emerges in the process of prayer itself.
          Some people speak their prayers out loud, others say them silently. Why not sing a prayer?  Singing is an open activity. It opens the heart…allows and even demands a flow--which tends to make things spontaneous and honest.  Prayer can take place anywhere. Prayer should not be a duty, but something truly meant. The surest way to enter the Sacred Heart is to give thanks earnestly for prayers that have already been answered.

Can you think of a song that could be a prayer for you?


          We may pray for an improvement in circumstances at the same time as believing we don't deserve it.   Nobody is so unworthy that they cannot pray and accept what is given.  If unworthy feelings come, pray that help may be given to find a sense of worth. Some find it difficult to receive without immediately feeling the need to give the same in return, or they may find it difficult to accept advice or wise comments.  In prayer, we must be receptive to blessings and answers.   
          Most of us have been taught to pray by bowing our heads, closing our eyes, clasping our hands and speaking with “thee” and “thou.”   Much of this outward appearance comes from the Protestant traditions of the past. Some have found the following to be helpful…to kneel when possible, look up to God and have palms open. At times it is appropriate to raise our arms as we express our love to Him.  Perhaps sit on the ground  so that we can pray longer without feet falling asleep. We can obviously pray anywhere: in the car, the shower, driving to work, at a party, everywhere. Why does it even matter what our body is doing when we pray? Only to the extent that it reflects our hearts. Use thees and thous if that feels more holy. For some it may be different. We can speak vocally or in our minds. Vocal prayers evoke the heart more and help to reach out. Everything we do is a sign to God of our intentions.

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.  Study the following scripture. 1 Samuel 20:16–17 Write about what it advises us to do.

  2.  In what ways could someone who has been through a similar situation to yours help you?

3.  Who do you know that has been through a similar situation that you could turn to? 

 4.  What sources of support are available to you? What do you feel prompted to do?

5.  Ask to be the answer to someone else's prayer.  Think how another may be the answer to your own prayers.     Pray for another.

Write about the result.

6. We can create a spiritual haven so we can have a special place to focus.  It is certainly not necessary, but many people find it helps with focus.  Start by cleaning the area thoroughly.  Focus on the divine and imagine beautiful colored lights, all the colors in white light streaming into the room.  You can play uplifting music…  Open the windows, say a small prayer.  You can have a small table or a solid box, perhaps with a beautiful, clean cloth.  Perhaps a sacred or beautiful picture, a plant, flowers, crystals, stones, or a bunch of herbs, candles, or a candle warmer with essential oils.  Keep negative energies away, no TV or phone nearby.
Write about what you would like to do.

Did it make a difference?        


7. When we listen to someone else’s pain, anguish, grief, story of loss, we’re engaging in an act of love. It’s rare to hear people listen to each other anymore.  We whip off our emails and texts so we can always be talking to someone.  But, how much do we remember about what we said and heard each day.  How present were we?  If you can’t answer these questions clearly, then you’ve been using chattering as a medication to calm anxiety and fear.
 Write about what you remember from a conversation with someone you were listening to.







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