When I was a boy, I wanted a pet chipmunk. My summers growing up were spent on our grandpa’s sheep ranch in the mountains where these incredibly fast and flighty creatures thrived. One day I finally captured one. I was thrilled and excited to give this chipmunk everything it wanted. And so I brought this sad little creature home where I commenced using string and wire to sew pieces of old window screens together inside a wire hanger frame to form a primitive cage. I created a little screen maze on a lower level leading to a nearly completed main cage area. I was so excited to have the little animal enjoy the cage that I let him into the nearly completed cage, feeling that the frightened creature would stay in the far corner while I finished the final panel.
I let the little chipmunk into the cage, excited to watch him navigate the maze. Instead he obliterated the poorly secured maze and in just a second or so burst from the cage with amazing speed. I believe we found his poor mummified body behind a panel in the attic of our home months later.
We must be careful that the barriers we put up to protect us from temptation are not like my cage: incomplete and flimsy. We need to be completely honest with ourselves and our Heavenly Father about what is keeping us from enjoying his presence moment to moment. Otherwise we leave Satan an opening.
Step 1 in addiction recovery (which I prefer to call ‘eternal life recovery’ – as this applies to all of us) is learning to be completely honest. If each of us would truly and honestly look into our hearts and admit where we were not giving a full measure we would become like Moroni, always shoring up defenses and standing up against evil the moment it raises its head. I love this man, of whom it is written:
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. (Alma 48:17)
Just as I cannot almost close the gate of my sheep pasture and take comfort in the secure fence enclosing them, we cannot take comfort in prayer and scripture study (great and needed protections!) if with an honest assessment we see we are purposefully leaving something nearby that we know is a temptation.
23 … we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that
we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23)
Be honest: recognize the ‘small stuff’ holding us back, and do everything you can to overcome it.
Welcome to the 12-step recovery program. Step 1: Honesty