Step 10: Don’t Fall off the Bridge!

My young niece held my hand as we began to cross a suspension bridge consisting of a large pipe crossing a shallow canyon creek. She had easily walked on top of the gently sloped pipe where the pipe was just above the ground but as she got above the creek she started to slow and grow unsteady. I quickly said, “Don’t look down. Look ahead to where you’re going!” She raised her eyes to the opposite bank and immediately started to improve. She moved forward with confidence and safely crossed.

Step 10 is daily, or even moment-to-moment to look at our thoughts, feelings and motives and immediately change course when we see the patterns that would take us into old patterns of destructive behavior. But it is just as much about looking ahead, examining our thoughts, feelings and motives for anything that is taking our eyes off our goal and when something is amiss, we immediately repent, and turn our face to our Savior.

With addiction recovery, it is easy to become so concerned about the addiction that one becomes continually fixated on the river below rather than the path forward and the ultimate joy of recovery.  If you focus on the river… you will likely fall in the river or turn back in despair!

It is impossible to give someone the enabling power to consistently look forward and make right choices. It takes practice, just as it if one were learning art or music or a sport. Practice makes permanent! Practice right!

I am an engineer.  Whenever I pride myself on understanding a difficult concept, the Lord humbles me by bringing me to someone who is a true expert. As part of an integrated chip design team, a co-worker who had spent much of his career designing and perfecting phase locked loop circuits told me excitedly that he could teach me how these circuits worked in a way that I would never forget. I had never gone beyond the basics of these wonderful circuits that can solve critical timing issues and create output clocks with a much higher frequency than a given input clock.

He launched into the discussion with marked enthusiasm, disclosing a wealth of knowledge. Though not a member of my faith, he related there is something deeply spiritual about how when the circuit has proper gain and tuning the phase locks reliably and output jitter is suppressed. After 15-minutes or so of his analogies and technical observations, I asked him to pause as I was already missing several key points. He was visibly disappointed, saying, “But in just a few minutes, you’ll have it!”

“But I won’t,” I responded, “You have spent much of your life pondering and mastering what you are teaching. I’m very grateful. This is fascinating but I haven’t paid the price. Without doing so there are too many things I simply don’t understand.” Here he was trying to give me the treasure of his heart, and I wasn’t ready to receive it.

After over 50 years as a general authority, Boyd K. Packer said:

“Much of what I have come to know falls into the category of things which cannot be taught but can be learned.”

He continues, “Like most things of great worth, knowledge which is of eternal value comes only through personal prayer and pondering. These, joined with fasting and scripture study, will invite impressions and revelations and the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”

Come and learn what can’t be taught!

Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.