What Life's About
When I was a teenager, I began drinking alcohol and using various hard drugs. As time went on, I became more entrenched in my addiction and began using drugs more and more until I was using them every day.
Shortly after my 36th birthday, I felt I had sunk to my lowest point. I said a prayer to my Heavenly Father, “God, if you are there, I really need you. Is this what life is about? Go to work and die? If you're lucky, have a few good relationships; if you're really lucky, have a family? Is this it?”
The next morning, I was at the train station when a woman came up to me and said, “Excuse me, I would like to give you this.” I looked down at what she held out and realized it was a picture of the Savior. It was a Pass-Along card from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I knew this was my Father in Heaven answering my simple prayer. The woman wrote her contact information on the card. This contact led me to church. When I got there, the man speaking that day said, “You are right where you need to be!“ He said this several times during his talk, and my heart responded every time. I decided to investigate the Church.
Another member of the ward befriended me and stayed with me through the meetings each Sunday. Three months later, I was baptized. I continued to struggle in my addictions after baptism, so my new friend in the ward informed me of the Addiction Recovery Program. Through the gospel principles taught in the program, I learned that the Lord blesses us because He knows we are truly trying to get better. Every effort we make allows the Lord to bestow His healing grace.
Soon after joining the Church, I started preparing to attend the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. I was excited to have the honor to participate in the proxy ordinances for my deceased relatives. However, the morning of the temple trip, I fell in to my addiction and drank alcohol, so I was not able perform the ordinances. I was encouraged though to come to the temple and spend time on the sacred grounds. I stayed outside as the other members entered. I asked my friend to perform the ordinances for my ancestors. At first, I was content reading my scriptures outside. But when I entered the temple and sat in the waiting area, I began to feel the awful realization of the consequences of my actions. Knowing I was unable to do the ordinances myself brought sorrow beyond my endurance. I wanted to be a part of this sacred experience, but I was still struggling with my addictions. How could I ever overcome them?
One night, I was driving on the highway and I felt my heart beating excessively. I attempted to pull over but I couldn’t control the steering wheel, accelerator, or brakes. I felt that I was going to die, but I did not feel ready. I felt the weight on my shoulders of the disappointment I had caused myself and others because of my addictions.
It was the worst feeling in the world. I realized that by not following the commandments, I had let everyone down: my friends, my brothers and sisters in the gospel, my family, my ancestors, and myself. I felt regret, sadness, and deep feelings of remorse.
When I came home to my apartment, I picked up my scriptures and opened up to Doctrine and Covenants 93. “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.”
I felt it was a personal message to me, and I knew what I needed to do. My testimony strengthened and my resolve to follow the Lord's commandments became imprinted on my soul.
With the clarity of being drug and alcohol-free, I felt inspired to send the Book of Mormon, my testimony, and various Church materials to my birth mother. This eventually led to her accepting the teachings and truths of the restored gospel. She is now making changes in her life to prepare for baptism. Little blessings continue to come daily, and as I recognize them and give thanks for them, I am truly blessed.
On my birthday in 2008, I was able to go to the temple and stand as proxy for the baptism and confirmations of some of my ancestors. Since then, I have received my own endowment in the temple. I remember being in the Celestial Room where I picked up the scriptures, finding them fall open to Doctrine and Covenants 132:49-50. “For I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity...Behold, I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.”
This was the Lord's reminder to me of the journey I have traveled and in which He is now well pleased. I see clearly the person I can become and what I need to work on to be the child of God He knows that I am.
If the Lord were to ask me now, “What are you doing with your life?” I could answer, “I continue to perfect myself. I proclaim the gospel, redeem the dead, and take care of the poor.” To the best of my ability, I walk through life, never letting go of the iron rod.