Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Overcoming things

Many of you do not know my story. Some of you do. I've been contemplating whether to share my story with others or not. I'm not the best 'blogger' or writer, but after attempting to write this story several times and whether to open it up to people, I've decided to put myself out there. I have seen many miraculous transformations even on my Facebook that I wanted to share mine, in hopes to touch the life of just one person who is struggling. Whether that be an addiction, with our Savior Jesus Christ, or some other form of stress. Most of this information is extremely personal, so please read it with tenderness.

And I must add, I will talk about some people here. I'm not bashing on them, I do not hate anyone, I am no longer mad, etc. I am simply trying to explain what it was like through my eyes. I want to show people how I felt, and with that, I have to talk about people that were part of how I felt. Please DO NOT shame them, scold them, criticize them, or whatever. It is in my past, I have moved on, please don't dwell on it.
It started a few years ago. Exactly a year and a half ago, almost. I was studying school down at Southern Utah University. I had everything going for me. I was on my way to my studying psychology, I had a testimony of the Gospel, I was in a place where I was happy.
However, despite my happiness, something felt wrong. It was in the back of my mind because I was in school full time, but I felt that I needed to do some study abroad thing, or some volunteer work, or something. I couldn't quite figure it out. I looked into Peace Corps, international volunteer programs, and yes, even the military. I wasn't quite getting it. I told my parents about my feelings, and they simply said to brush it off and focus on my school. I could do something over the summer or after I graduate, but in the mean time, I needed to focus on school. 

Finally I got the answer to my prayer. It was General Conference Fall of 2013. The prophet made an announcement to the change in missionary age. That exact moment, that exact time, the feeling I had was indescribable. It was an answer to my prayer. It was what I was looking for. Although I would be 21 by the time I finished out the semester and got my papers in, it was what I was looking for. I prepared myself diligently there. I prayed, read my scriptures, attended the temple as often as I could.

I was doing everything I could to stay worthy. I felt God's love for me like I've never felt before. He seemed to really be listening to me. I often felt like I had some angel watching out for me always, and I always felt it. Granted, being raised in the church, if we remain close with the Lord, the Holy Ghost will always be with us. However, this was different. It was special, it was surreal. It was a miracle. 

I packed everything up and headed up after the semester to prepare myself for a mission. Nothing was going to stop me now. I started shopping for clothes that were conservatively modest. I was praying. I was trying to help others as much as I could. I got a calling as the Primary Chorister. I loved every minute of it. I got my job back at Arby's. Although it is fast food, I was already trained and I was comfortable there. It was just one good thing after another. 

On my second day of work, I met this guy named Lance. Lance to me was super attractive. He was caring and helped me jumped my car when the battery died. I haven't had this kind of "crush" in a long time. He made me feel special. Back at school, I probably only went on a handful of dates, but it was nothing serious. He would make the effort to talk to me, to hang out with me, the make me feel pretty. Everyday I liked him more and more. However, he was not a member of the church. I told him from the beginning that I was going on a mission and told him the steps I was taking to prepare for it. I told him about the things I would not do with him, the whole nine yards. He agreed and understood and supported me. It was 

Things started getting a little serious. I was questioning my mission and my purpose for being home. I was really into Lance. Some nights, we would be working till some hour in the morning, and I would just go to his house and crash. Nothing happening. Some nights I was there late at his house and I crashed and fell asleep. If any of you know me, you know that if its late at night and you put in a movie, there is a 99% chance I will fall asleep, even it is only 11pm. 

These "sleepovers" meant nothing. Nothing happened except sleep. I know severalllllllllllll people that have sleepovers with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and then go on a mission just fine. They get married into the temple just fine. But I felt guilty. Something didn't feel right about these sleepovers. I was talking with a fellow sister in my home ward, and she told me to go talk to the bishop. I went in there with a guilty heart, ready to get back on track. However, it did not turn out the way I had planned. 

I was told to not open my mission call (I was expecting it any day), I could not take the sacrament for a long period of time, and that if I wanted to consider a mission, I needed to spend 6 months to a year repenting for my sins. 

I was angry. I couldn't understand why I was being punished to harshly. Taking away my call, telling me that I had to wait 6 months to a year, AND the sacrament?? I walked out of that office angry. I was bitter. Going to college, I saw it all the time. I saw sleepovers, yet people were going on missions just fine. WHY ME? Should I be even more ready to go on a mission because I confessed about it? I don't know if I will ever understand it, but this is how I felt. 

My bitterness turned even more bitterness. I paid more attention to Lance. I started drinking alcohol. I was introduced to pornography. I found that these things were so cool. The church is strongly against these things, and yet I wanted to know more about them. I didn't drink too much, but boy did it state good. The feeling of being drunk was actually kind of fun, except going to the bathroom every couple minutes. I was getting heavily into pornography. I watched it several times a day. I didn't really feel like it was affecting my work or my personal life, I just did it when I was at home bored. I didn't see anything wrong with either.

 I only went to church for my parents. Some days I skipped. I felt 'mehh' about it. I was still angry. I asked to be released from my calling because I knew I wasn't worthy to have one. Some of the sisters really reached out to me and tried to help. I thanked them for their kindness, but I was still bitter at my bishop. It's hard to go to a church where the head person of the congregation is the one you hate the most. 

This "rebellion" lasted for almost 6-7 months. There was one night toward the end where I was at a party and I was drinking a lot, and quite fast. I wanted to drink that beer and get as drunk as I could. I wanted to get away from it all. I was soo upset I could not go on a mission. The thing I've been preparing my life for. Now look where my life was. As you can imagined, I was throwing up all night, and even into the next morning. It was then I decided that maybe alcohol wasn't for me. I NEVER wanted to experience that again. 

However, the pornography was a little bit different. Whenever I was upset, the porn was always there. There are a LOT of psychological reasons and personal reasons why I liked it, but this is not the place for that. It made me feel good. I desired it more and more. If the bishop was going to punish me, I was going to give him a reason to punish it. Porn (and alcohol) was it. 

Finally it came time to decide if I wanted to go back to school. I'd be a fool if I didn't get my degree, but that meant leaving Lance. I was a resident of Utah, so going to school out there was much cheaper. I decided to get a brand new start at the University of Utah. 

The first week there, my dad and I decided to go to temple square and hear on Sunday the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I cannot explain to you what I felt as I walked into the conference center and heard them sing. I couldn't control the tears from my eyes. I felt that this was where I needed to be. 

The next Sunday I went to my new bishop in my Young Single Adult ward, and he welcomed me with open arms. He was the man I have been searching for. He was someone who really could help me. He got me into the LDS family services with a therapist. 

I could go on and on about what happened since I met him about 9 months ago, but I'd be here writing for another hour. 

I know that the Gospel is true, and that through Christ we can overcome ALL things, whether it is a pornography addiction, alcohol, thinking negatively, etc. Yes, I have had little lapses. I had the desire to never do pornography again, but I still had lapses. Thankfully he still thought the world of me. I felt special. Overcoming a trial is very difficult. To this day, I can't help but get those urges. I urge you to have a goal on mind. I had a goal to get my endowments when I graduate, despite these lapses. About February or March, I was determined I will do this. I turned away from it and started getting involved with my ward more. I started being more outgoing. I started helping others. I started being nicer. I really had to make an effort and train my brain to turn my mind to other things besides those urges. I will always get them, but to have self control takes a lot of effort. 

I'm thankful for all the people who have helped me along the way. I have let go of the bitterness. I drank and swallowed the bitterness. It is no longer a part of me. Good can overcome all evil. Without Christ,  and knowing he felt the same pain I did allowed me develop into the person I am becoming. I am hopeful. I know that this is not where I am going to stop. 

My hope is to help one person with my story. I hope that each person that reads this knows that struggles will never go away. However, when we turn to the Lord he can lift the burden. HE knows, he understands. Please don't push him away, but embrace His gentle, loving, Spirit.

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