Advice to My Younger Self
The one thing I want you to know before I explain what awaits you is that the only constants in your life will be God, the Savior, and change. The first two will be your saving grace for the third.
You will find that the only changes that you have any effect on are the ones in which your will and the will of the Savior are in line. The sooner you learn to accept that, the easier your path in this life will be—especially as it comes to your family and your relationships. You’re stubborn and used to fixing things yourself. It isn’t your job to fix things about 99 percent of the time, except when it pertains only to your own growth and progress.
Your reaction to what awaits, for a while, will be fear and anger. Neither of these words will bring the right spirit needed for this or any trial. I still don’t know how long the trial will last and how the boys will progress. But what I do know is that fear and anger will destroy relationships, not only with your boys but with your other children as well. It will also destroy you, your marriage, and your relationship with God and Christ if you allow it to.
As you go through the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program, you are going to learn an entirely different perspective on the Atonement. Feeling unconditional love will be hard because the boys that you are going to have as teens and adults are not going to be the cute little boys that were so easy to love as they were growing up. You will unconsciously want to put conditions upon them that require them to change for your love to be shown. I learned through the Addiction Recovery Program that I need to love my sons unconditionally, as the Lord loves me. Unconditional love is different than enabling the behavior. It is letting them know you love them even though they are living a lifestyle you don’t accept. The example of how I live is the only way I can teach them. Lectures and preaching will just put a wedge between you. I learned that you must let them suffer the consequences of their behaviors and stop trying to jump in to fix it.
They will actually start to change, and you’ll realize that you need to stay out of the way and let the Lord work. Rely entirely on your faith that the Lord is in control. I don’t know what the boys need to learn from their choices and trials. I do know that you will learn many things from your trials and that your relationship with God and Christ will be stronger. Your love for your wife and children will increase, and your empathy and understanding for others will grow. You will also learn how great the love of God is for each of us. Keep your sense of humor. Remember that laughing is better than yelling! Repeat often to yourself, “This too shall pass.” Salvation isn’t earned in this earthly existence. The process is only just beginning, and I believe that God and Christ are more merciful and full of grace than we comprehend. I realize how uncomfortable time makes us. We are not patient and long-suffering because we believe time won’t allow it. Concerning the things that matter for your eternal salvation, try living them outside the time boundaries, especially when it comes to trials and afflictions. Use what you learn through this journey to help others. God bless you, and hopefully you can learn faster than I did the first time.
Live with hope,
Your Older Self,