Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear “Addi” I am about to be Excommunicated and I'm scared! (Part 3)

Excommunication part 3:  "How will my life change after being excommunicated? How will I have the strength to withstand the temptations of addiction if I no longer have the gift of the holy ghost with me?"

Yes… your life is going to change.  I'm not going to sugar coat this and tell you how wonderful excommunication is. It's not wonderful, fun, or something I would ever tell someone to seek after.

I'm going to break this blog into 2 parts……1, things lost and 2,things gained.

Things I've Lost from excommunication:

- My temple blessings and my sealing to my Wife and kids
- The Gift of the Holy Ghost
- The automatic trust of my wife
- My membership.
- My temple recommend
- My temple clothing
- My right to pay tithing
- My Ability to hold a calling
- The Sacrament
- The Priesthood authority
- The priesthood in my home
- The ability to give my children blessings
- The ability to baptize my soon to be 8 year old next year.
- My name on the records of the church (even the phone list)
- My account access
- The opportunity to volunteer to help at camps or projects without permission.
- Public Prayer at a church meeting
- The opportunity to bear my testimony in church
- The opportunity to teach a class or substitute.
- The respect of some of my ward family and peers.
- The ability to attend any stake function without feeling a thousand eyes
- The Moral authority to promise success or blessings when living the gospel
- The comfort that comes from knowing that if someone calls on you to pray.. you don't have to say I'm sorry… could I please pass today?
- The innocence of a 10 year old daughter who just can't understand why Daddy doesn't take the sacrament like everyone else.
-The Comfort of having a casual conversation and knowing you won't have to explain when someone asks you what your current calling is.
- Anonymity and privacy as the rumor mill speculates about your release and what kind of things you must have done that made it necessary.
- The safety of not having to dodge questions at family reunions about why you were released and what the church has you doing now.
- The once less than awkward run ins from the men who were at my council.
- The opportunity to speak at the funeral of someone I use to home teach.

Things I've Gained

- An Intimate knowledge of the Atonement
- A much richer closer relationship with my Father in heaven
- A clear, clean conscience
- A more loving and personal relationship with my wife
- A future that is not filled with uncertainties
- The knowledge of my Savior and his love for me
- A true lifting of the burdens that have weighed me down
- A change of heart
- A stronger desire to avoid temptation
- A full recollection of All my guilt
- The desire to faithfully and righteously serve in a calling
- A desire to have my sins washed away
- Empathy for other as they struggle
- A desire to help and share my story with any who find strength from it
- Instant reaction to fall to my knees when temptation or struggles cross my path
- A constant desire and willingness to do anything to regain my wife's full trust
- Excitement to be asked to do even the smallest thing in the church
-The Pornography 12 step program which has been my lifesaver
-The knowledge that I am not the only one who struggles with addiction. I am not alone.
- A vision of what my Father in Heaven has in store for me.
- Escape from the dark hole that has held me bound for so many wasted years of my life.
- An actual understanding that the Savior can absolutely lift, change and direct me when I let Him.
- The ability to feel the spirit in ways I have never felt before.
- A deeper respect for even the most humble callings in the church.
- The hope of one day entering the temple, fully worthy to be there and to partake of the blessings within
- the knowledge that my eternity is not lost.
- A full remission of my sins.
-I no longer feel guilty about serving in callings unworthily.
- The confession of addictions by loved ones that found courage to come forward through my example.
- A deep love for my priesthood leaders, family, and friends as they have rallied to support me.
- A new way of reading the scriptures filled with insights that I had never seen before.
- A testimony of the Rescuer of all mankind and his desire to save me once and for all.

Do I like being excommunicated? No. I wish with all my heart that I had never journeyed down this path. I never wanted this and I would give anything to change the pain I have caused so many, especially my wife. But, I'm here now. I can't change what has been done and I can't change the outcome. What I can do is not waste this opportunity.

I have made it my goal to gain every insight, learn every lesson, and practice every ounce of obedience that I can. I will not fail my wife nor my Savior again. I have had some of the most powerful spiritual experiences during this time. I feel closer to my wife and children then ever before and we truly have a stronger, more focused marriage.

Now, I want to be careful not to oversell this. This has been the hardest, most humbling, and most overwhelming year of my life. If there were any other way for me to learn these lessons, I would welcome it without hesitation. I wish I had chosen to learn wisdom in my youth. I wish had followed the examples of those who had gone before. I wish I had  listened to the stories of those who have made mistakes (including my own father) and not traveled this path myself.

But I am here. I wear my scarlet letter but… I have chosen not to let it define me.

For those who are willing to finally put their lives in order and truly live the gospel, then Excommunication may be necessary.

Excommunication will most likely be a year. And when you think about it,  a year is such a short period of time. The brethren will also have to wait at least one more year in order to have their priesthood and temple blessings restored.

Again.. Its only a year. If you are anything like me, then you have already wasted years and years of your life sitting in the mire, soaking up the filth. For 25 years of my life I have gorged on the filth of pornography. For 25 years I have played the game of “will I win the battle today?" For 25 Years I have professed to be a disciple of Christ only to privately respond to Satan's call and again lap up his vomit. It has been a 25 year waste of time. If the Lord requires me to give up 2 and a half years of my life to prove to him that I have turned away from sin and turned my life over to him, then I don't see that as a sacrifice any more than I do paying tithing. It is a tithe after all. All He is asking is for me to give him back 10% of what I have wasted... 2 and a half years for the 25 I have spent foolishly.

How do I live without the Holy Ghost?

It is true that when one is excommunicated, they lose the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some might ask, “How will I have the influence of the spirit if I have lost this precious gift?”.  In order to understand this we need to break down the mechanics of the way the spirit works.

One who has received the gift of the holy ghost after baptism, can have its influence with them throughout their life…… so far as they are worthy of it.

Well, when was the last time you or I felt worthy of the companionship of the spirit.? The truth is, we have not been worthy of it for a very long time. I lived with a dark cloud over my head every day of my life. Sure, there were moments of sunshine when I tried hard, but mostly I just watched the clouds waiting for it to rain.

The gift of the holy ghost gives baptized members of the church the blessing of the spirit with them Always. But what about Non- members? Are they just written off in the department of spiritual affairs? Of course not. If that were true we would see very little growth or progress from our missionary efforts.

They of course have the opportunity to feel the spirit when they ask for it and when the Lord feels they are worthy to receive it. They don't yet have the blessing of having it with them always, but they do get to feel its presence when He desires and when they are receptive to feel it.

I, essentially, am a non member. I do not have the gift of the Holy Ghost. But I can testify to you that I feel the spirit stronger in my life now, than I have for many years. Why? Because, I have finally repented. I have finally exposed my wounds to the air where they can heal. I have willingly turned my life over to my Savior. I have decided to place my future in His hands and accept the consequences for my actions.

Now, when I plead for the spirit to accompany me… I feel it. When I beg for a shield of protection against the adversary, I sense its presence immediately. My Father in heaven is aware of me and my efforts and for that… this non-member is being blessed with the spirit.

Once we free ourselves from the shackles of sin, we not only open ourselves up to the presence of the spirit in our lives, but we open the door to redemption. I'm reminded of the old painting with the savior standing at the door without the door knob. He is knocking and knocking… in my case he has been knocking for years and years. Of course, with the only door knob on my side of the door, what could He do but wait? And He did wait. Thank goodness He is patient. But, He would have kept waiting for years, decades, even eons if that is how long it took me to finally grab hold of the knob and turn. The spirit has now found my open door…. and He freely comes to lead me. I'm not wasting another second. What about you?

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