Prepared for the Journey

Sarah's story

Woman sitting on rocks looking at sunset

Being married to a man with a pornography addiction was certainly not part of my plans. When I found out about his addiction, I believed the situation was because of something I had done—that in some way I deserved it.

As I became more aware of my husband’s addiction, I found myself becoming more controlling in my efforts to “help” him. But everything that I discovered and imagined caused me more pain. Eventually his actions, which were a result of his addiction, led to his excommunication from the Church.

I soon became burdened by the actions of my husband, feeling ashamed to share my feelings or struggles with anyone else.

This shame, I realized, came from the adversary. He wanted nothing more than to keep me quiet and have me bear my burden alone. I realized that, while my husband was participating in addictive behaviors, I was hiding within my own struggle as his spouse. Satan wanted me to keep my mouth shut and feel ashamed because of my husband’s addiction. I knew I needed to break free from his grasp and speak about my affliction.

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is in the book of Ether. The brother of Jared had just come down from the mount carrying stones that “did give light unto the vessels” (Ether 6:2). These stones would give the Jaredites light on their journey to the promised land so they would not cross the waters in darkness. The Spirit guided the people in their preparation for this journey. When all preparations had been made, “they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4).

Their journey was unlike anything they had ever experienced: “And thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5). But despite the great dangers of their journey, they were not harmed, and they were guided toward the promised land because of their faith. And when they arrived at the promised land, “they bowed themselves down … and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them” (Ether 6:12).

As I reflected on that particular story, I saw my husband’s addiction not as a punishment but as a trial. As the Jaredites experienced much adversity on the sea, they endured it well and were blessed because of their faith.

I remember a time I was praying and pleading with Heavenly Father to help me somehow change my husband and fix his pornography addiction. As I was praying, I thought about the gift of agency and how Heavenly Father had given each of us the opportunity to choose for ourselves. I realized I was trying to take away my husband’s agency, not focusing on my ability to choose. I began to see that I needed to take responsibility for my own agency and allow my husband the same privilege.

When I separated my own agency from my husband’s, I became accountable for my own choices. As soon as I did this I began to realize my worth as a daughter of God. I constantly reminded myself, “I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves me, and I love Him.” With this constant reminder, I began to understand my divine nature. I knew that if I were worthy I would be guided. That knowledge allowed me to stop trying to control my husband’s actions—Heavenly Father was much more capable of helping my husband through his recovery than I was. And because I was able to understand the gift of agency, I began to have faith in Heavenly Father’s plan not only for myself but also for my husband.

Over time I learned how to strengthen my own testimony. Through constant prayer, study of the scriptures, and kind acts of service, I am able to build a testimony that even Satan can’t take away from me. I also learned of the healing power Jesus Christ and His Atonement offer. Christ provides an opportunity for me to be strengthened through Him and provides me with the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I owe all I have to the Savior and desire to dedicate my life in service to Him.

I now realize that I was prepared for this journey before it began and that I can be strengthened in my trials. The winds of my life are constantly blowing me toward the promised land, and I can see the tender mercies of the Lord in my life.