In the October session of the 2013 LDS General Conference, we enjoyed hearing from leaders of the Church on several spiritual topics. One stood out to me most as relevant to the trials of our times. “Like a Broken Vessel,” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, was about using the Atonement to deal with mental illness.
Elder Holland used depression as an example, but it’s not hard to see how his kind words pertain to addiction as well. He directed that, above all, when battling mental illness, you must “Never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves your more than you can comprehend.” Let’s consider some of his other words of wisdom, and how they pertain to addiction.
Addiction is as much a spiritual disease as it is an emotional, physical, and mental one. The only way to heal a spiritual disease is by spiritual means, and Elder Holland outlined how we can do this:
Acts of Devotion: While being active in the Gospel may feel hollow or foreign at first, you will gain spiritual strength as you follow the gentle directives of God. Attend church, pray always, search the scriptures, and take the sacrament each week when you’re ready to.
Repent: Never allow Satan to make you feel as though you are not worthy to be in the presence of your Heavenly Father again. Everyone is a candidate for His love, no matter how serious the sin. Apply the Atonement to your life, and allow yourself to be healed.
The Power of Christ: You have access to the most healing power available on Earth, a power imparted to us by Christ himself, the Priesthood. Ask for Priesthood blessings to strengthen and comfort you as you work through recovery.
Believe in Miracles: It’s true that you can’t overcome your disease on your own, but in Christ, all things are possible. Even during times when recovery is slow and difficult, remember Elder Holland’s words, “ Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”
Seek Professional Help: There is a social stigma attached to asking for professional help with mental illness. Elder Holland says this is a false notion when he reassures us, “If you had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a Priesthood blessing and get the best medical care available. So, too, with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.”
Following the teachings and advice of Elder Holland can help an addict to reconnect with Heavenly Father, begin using the Atonement, and start the spiritual healing process that is needed for any sustained recovery. In parts 2 and 3 of this series, we’ll look at How Elder Holland’s words can also help us prevent and overcome relapse, and support a recovering addict.