addiction, repentance, Spiritual

“Sorrowing of the Damned”

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

As a member of the LDS church I have sat in Sunday School class and heard some short-sighted soul lament about the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. “Why do we have so many war chapters in the Book of Mormon?? I don’t get it??”

Anyone who has had to struggle with a loved one addicted to sex or pornography gets it! This is a war we are fighting! A war for the very hearts and souls of our loved one! We need the strategies of war to know how to fight against Satan and his insidious weapon! Be grateful for the war chapters! Read them as a guide for spiritual warfare and you will find great hidden treasures of knowledge in them.

Case in point:

The phrase “sorrowing of the damned” appears in the scriptures exactly once. In the Book of Mormon, Mormon: Chapter Two. The place that it appears is just as telling as the scripture itself.

Mormon was all of sixteen years of age. Very young, but he tells us he was a large youth and very strong. The scriptures also says that he was extremely righteous. So much so, that the people appointed him to be their leader, and the leader over their armies. At least the people had the good sense to recognize his capabilities.

These are the winding up scenes of the Book of Mormon. A great battle is about to take place between the Nephites, traditionally the good guys, and the Lamanites, traditionally the bad guys.  And the Lamanites are about to kick the Nephite’s butts, all the way to the seashore. They are losing, and losing badly. Driven from 3 cities, they are literally with their back to the sea, with no place to go.

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Mormon explains in Chapter 2:

“…and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.”

The King of the Lamanites comes against them to do battle with 44,000 men. Moroni has 42,000 men. But he is able to pull off a win despite being out numbered. They were spared, for a short time. So the Nephites begin to repent! Mormon sees their sorrow and he is so encouraged because he knows the Lord will help them in battle, under any condition, if they are righteous. He is hoping his little army is having a change of heart! I’m not talking little sins here. They had been very wicked as a people:

“…for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.”

But it is not to be. The Nephites are sorry alright, but they are only sorry that they are dying! They are not truly repentant! (Does this sound like anything you are going through yet?)

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This is Mormon’s account in Chapter 2:

“12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.

13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.”

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What is the “sorrowing of the damned?” I became very curious to understand this phrase. So I turned to the words of the prophets. It appears 6 times in General Conference talks. Most of these talks deal with  the subject of Repentance and most of them are talks by Elder Maxwell. God Bless Elder Maxwell! He was a modern-day Mormon, and our addicted loved ones would do well to follow his counsel!

Sorrowing of the Damned Is…

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A Proud Heart – “In this rigorous process, so much clearly depends upon meekness.  Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing.  Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October 1991

False remorse and taking happiness in sin – On a larger scale, for instance, the prophet Mormon at first thought his people were sorrowing unto repentance (see Morm. 2:12–13) Yet he soon discerned that theirs was not actually the sorrowing unto repentance but the “sorrowing of the damned,” stranding them in a “no-man’s-land.” Compare that episode to the prodigal son’s solitary working through of his own repentance; since his sorrow was real, he truly “came to himself” Luke 15:17 Sometimes we learn “by sad experience,” but sometimes not! D&C 121:39 Neal A. Maxwell, April Conference 2000

“Recognition is a sacred moment, often accompanied by the hot blush of shame.”

After recognition, real remorse floods the soul. This is a “godly sorrow,” not merely the “sorrow of the world” nor the “sorrowing of the damned,” when we can no longer “take happiness in sin.” 2 Cor. 7:10 Morm. 2:13  False remorse instead is like “fondling our failings.” In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October Conference, 1991

Repenting because we got caught -Mormon teaches us that there will always be suffering and sorrow in sin, but to repent only because we feel bad or because we have suffered or because we are sorrowful does not show that we understand the goodness of God. (Robert D. Hales, April Conference 1992)

Losing the desire for righteousness  – “The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15 William R. May explained such sloth: “The soul in this state is beyond mere sadness and melancholy. It has removed itself from the rise and fall of feelings; the very root of its feelings in desire is dead. … To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up” (“A Catalogue of Sins,” as quoted in Christian Century, 24 Apr. 1996, 457). Neal A. Maxwell, According to the Desires of Our Hearts, October Conference, 1996

Desensitization towards sin – “…fearful of the dawn, evil cannot stand the steady scrutiny of bright truth, nor can it endure the quiet reflections of soul-searching!

Thus the drumbeat of desensitization deadens the taste buds of the soul by responding illegitimately to the legitimate need for belonging and for love, as predators and victims sadly become “past feeling” (1 Ne. 17:45Eph. 4:19Moro. 9:20).”  Neal A. Maxwell, The Seventh Commandment: A Shield, October Conference, 2001

Conflicted feelings about sin – In its extremity, murmuring reflects not only the feelings of the discontented, but also the feelings of the very conflicted:

“Their sorrowing was … the sorrowing of the damned, because [they could not] take happiness in sin.

“And [yet] they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” (Morm. 2:13–14.) Neal A. Maxwell, Murmur Not, October 1989

Men who are caught in these examples must beware! They are in danger of losing their souls. Bishops and Stake Presidents who counsel with them must be very discerning or they may, unwittingly, let these men fall short of godly sorry and true repentance. Addicts are used to lying. The conditions of their hearts cannot be seen simply though the addict’s words. Their hearts must be discerned by the Holy Ghost.

Wives need to be very discerning when it comes to their addict husbands, because they lie…a lot!  We trusted them throughout our marriage.  We want to trust them now!  But being too trusting can be very painful, especially on the wife of an addict stuck in denial. The lying they do is so difficult to deal with.  They don’t care if it hurts you. They are protecting themselves FIRST! The sad reality is the wife is on her own. This is why wives need counseling and support.  They cannot wade through this new swamp of deception alone.  They need a guide. For most of them, this will be their first encounter with chronic liars.

A Note to Bishops & Stake Presidents:

Bishops and Stake Presidents MUST be educated on the issues of addiction and pornography. They cannot sufficiently councel an addict without a basic understanding of pornography & sex addiction, especially when the tactics of denial are being used by the addict. Denial causes excessive lying so it is particularly important that priesthood leaders are in tune to the Spirit. More often than not, the addict needs to be referred to qualified, professional help. Please don’t think you can just handle this on your own. Trust me, you can’t. And chances are good that you will do more harm to the addict and his family if you try to handle this by yourself.

If you cannot readily recognize the difference between godly sorrow and the “sorrowing of the damned” you will need  some basic education. You can find resources to help you here and here. I have found that most men, as leaders in the church, are clueless when it comes to dealing with this issue. There needs to be better training, especially in meeting the needs of the spouse. Spouses are often overlooked in issues of addiction. And they shouldn’t be. The Church should be doing a better job in educating church leaders in the strategies on how to fight this new drug and help addicts find their way to godly sorrow and away from the sorrowing of the damned. Otherwise, they will end up like my ex-husband; faking his way through repentance. He was in leadership positions in the church his entire adult life. He knows what to say to sound convincing. He knows the buzz words. But if you listen with the Spirit, you will know his heart isn’t in it. Unfortunately, his lack of sorrow is also damning to his family because he can’t even see the damage he has done and no one is holding him accountable.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Stay Sweet, Be Strong!

Choices, divorce, forgiveness, healing, My Story, no contact, repentance

What I Would Tell My Ex-Husband this Christmas if I Could Talk to Him…

Here I am again, another Christmas, alone.  This is not how I envisioned it when I discovered my husband’s multiple infidelities over two years ago.  I thought by this Christmas that it would all be an ugly nightmare we could begin to put behind us.  It would have been if he had the ability to take counsel…from anyone, but himself. It didn’t have to be this way.  It shouldn’t have been this way.  If he had the capacity to listen, everything would have been different.  I have said these things to him so many times.  He doesn’t hear me.  We don’t speak the same language anymore.  If he were the man I married, he would hear, understand, and respond. But he isn’t the man I married. Instead, he justifies his actions to fit the narrative he has created about me in his mind.  So here is my letter to him.  One of many.  Expressing again, what I would have chosen for us, if it was my choice to make.  Sadly, there are some choices I will never get to make. This is one of them…

Dear Cheater,

I can do little else besides think of you during Christmas.  So many Christmas’ shared, so many memories.  They are all around me, shattered pieces of our lives that I would gladly piece back together with you if you would just be willing to do the hard work needed to repair us, repair our family…repair our lives.  I know you could…if you only wanted to do it.  I guess knowing that you don’t want to is the worst part of my life now.  I have a hard time understanding why you would not, did not, choose me, choose your family, over what your life has become now.  It seems so clear that you chose wrong. You had it all.  You gave us away, without a backwards glance. Whatever you have now is only an illusion of happiness. You and I both know you will never be happy again, unless you choose to repent, repair, and restore your family.  It is what God sent you here to do. (But now appears you have turned your back on God too.)  Without us, your life has no meaning, no happiness, no joy.  Your life now is nothing but whole cloth.  You had the real thing.  You chose to throw it away. You cannot replace something fake with what was real.

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No matter how much I may love you, there is nothing I can do about that now. I wish I could.  I would if I could. Heaven knows I tried! You have your agency to use how you see fit. Where you are now, I cannot go. I don’t even want to go where you are now. I don’t belong there.  I am better than that.  YOU are better than that too! At least you were at one point.

I still love you.  I will always love you.  You are the choice of my heart and the love of my life!  Nothing will ever change that for me.  I guess you have a hard time understanding why I would divorce you then?  You would understand if you knew the depth of my love for you.  You are a part of me.  You are as important to me as my own body.  You are no less useful than my left hand is to me.  I cannot survive my left hand anymore than I can survive without you.  I am in love with you…still.  I always will be.  You don’t spend 37 years serving another person; caring for them, standing with them, supporting them, being there for them, making love to them, listening to them, building a family and a home with them, and just “fall out of love with them.”  No.  That doesn’t happen. Divorce has NOTHING to do with how much or little I love you.  It has to do with survival.  MY SURVIVAL! You would not stop cheating on me.  For 18 months you kept another woman “on the side” just in case it did work out with me.  I couldn’t handle that.  I still can’t.  To see how little you loved me stands up against the depth of feelings I had for you, was killing me…literally. You were found lacking. There is no comparison. If you understood how much what you were doing was hurting me, then you would understand why I had to let you go.

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30

Medically speaking, a part of my body had become as poisonous as gangrene.  If I didn’t cut you off, you would have killed me. If you have cancer, you MUST cut it out before it destroys the whole body!  You had become cancer to me.  Love has nothing to do with it.  It was about my survival.  The fact that you cannot understand this, stands as a testimony of how little you care for me or my well-being. No one in their right mind would expect someone with cancer to  just “live with it.” That is just cruel. It is inhumane.

In this case, “my cancer” is you.  You are the cancer that refused to respond to  any treatment. You wouldn’t allow me to seek treatment to heal you.  You wouldn’t respond to the advice of professionals. You refused to get healthy. So you had to go. I had to remove you or die. I took no joy or happiness in being forced to cut the toxic poison from my life that you had become to me.  It is not what I would have chosen for you, for me, for us, if it were my choice to make.

I would have chosen life. Healing.  Supportive recovery. Forgiveness. Repentance. Restoration.  I would have chosen you, if you just would have chosen me first. You will never know that, because you never gave me the opportunity to show you what I am made of.

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This is on you.  The records of heaven will prove that to you someday.  Someday,  you will see clearly, what you have done.  But not now.  So I am left with no other choice,  I have to go on with life as best as I can, having had to cut a part of me off. Trying my best to recover, even though you keep lashing out at me every chance you get. Your concern is not for my welfare, healing, or well-being.  Your concern is to hurt me for doing what was best for me.  I can only draw one conclusion from your actions; you would rather I not live at all. One day you will see the depravity of this behavior.  But in spite of all of it, I have deep compassion for you. I know you are lonely.  Hurting.  Angry. You don’t understand. I know you carry a lot of guilt and shame. I forgive you for those things you did to me, and continue to do to me.  You cannot hurt me any deeper than you already have.  So I can finally forgive you.  For all of it. I have turned you over to God and He will deal with you.

But my forgiveness doesn’t mean you can be in my life now.  Far from it. Forgiveness is my part.  Repentance is your part.  To be allowed in my life again, even if it is nothing more than friends, requires you to change your behavior.  It requires you to restore trust, safety and connection.  It requires you to learn how to treat your family with decency and respect.  These are the bare minimum requirements. When you do the things you need to do in order to heal and get healthy, your guilt and shame will go away.  You will stop lashing out. The atonement cannot swallow up your guilt and shame until you choose to become a new creature in Christ.  When you do that, had you done it already, you could have your family back. It really IS just that simple! That is what Christmas is all about, a baby who has the power to restore broken things. But you have to decide you want it. Not just say you want it…you have to really want it.  More than you want anything else in your life.

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In the meantime, all I can do is to wait from a safe distance.  Pray for you to finally “get it.”  I still wish with all my heart you had chosen me.  But you didnt. I still wish you would.  But I cannot count on that either.  So all I can do is to try to heal and mend my broken heart. I have told you many times if you ever died I would never remarry.  In a way, you have died.  You are not the man who I thought you were. The person I fell in love with no longer exists.  He is dead to me.  Who you are now, is someone I would never want. I have a hard time believing you want to be who you are now.  Why would you? But here we are.  This is the reality.  Our new normal. It’s all so sad.

I don’t know why I bother to keep repeating myself over and over and over.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I say it enough it will get through to you. Somehow.  It seems so clear to me.  It seems clear to everyone.  Except you. Truth is easy to understand. I know these words fall of deaf ears.  They have fallen on deaf ears for two years now.  I suspect they will fall on deaf ears for many more years to come unless you change.  The truth is, this is what I have said to you from the day I found out about your affairs.  I have said the same thing to you nearly every day since then.  I feel like a broken record. I will continue to say the same thing to the end of time, because this is the only path back to me.  Back to our family. Back to God. There is no other way, no other short cut.  Sadly, you can choose to sin in whatever way you want, but you cannot choose how to repent.  Repentance is set in stone. Those terms are set by God.  Bargaining with Him won’t change his mind.You have no choice but to submit to His will on this, no matter how stubborn you are or how right you think you are.  Repentance has a set pattern.  It requires your heart. Giving your heart cannot be faked. You do not know more than God and you cannot fool Him. You can’t trick Him into believing you have repented. You will know when you have really repented because your life will immediately improve! When you can finally submit your heart to Him, that is when you will know it is real. This is your ultimate test.  The mother of all tests.  I hope you don’t fail.

How long will it take for you to figure this out? Will anything get through to you?

Maybe by then, someday, none of us will have to spend another Christmas as a broken family.

The Cupcake Warrior

chocolate cupcake warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

addiction, betrayal, Choices, infidelity, repentance

Real Men Don’t Cheat! Or How to Become a Real Man Again if You Do..

Love is a choice not a feeling.  Think about it for just a minute.  When you love someone you choose to commit to them. You choose to serve them.  You choose to have their safety and best interests at heart.  You choose to walk life’s journey with them.  Romanitic love is a flash in the pan.  It is what get’s the process of love started.  After that, love is a thousand steps through life with that person you chose to go through life with.  Like President Monson said,

“Choose a companion carefully and prayerfully; and when you are married, be fiercely loyal one to another. Priceless advice comes from a small framed plaque I once saw in the home of an uncle and aunt. It read, ‘Choose your love; love your choice.’ There is great wisdom in those few words. Commitment in marriage is absolutely essential.”
-President Thomas S. Monson.

You choose to love someone. You choose to be faithful to them, or not.  When a man chooses a woman he is taking on a sacred responsibility to care for her, to protect her, to provide for her – to love her. For his entire life. Real men know how to make important choices and how to honor them.

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I don’t buy the excuses.  “I just fell out of love.”  It is a lame excuse and is nothing more than a flimsy paper cup that cannot not hold water when these conmen have to tell it to the all-seeing gaze of the ultimate judge. God will not be mocked. Period.  The covenant of marriage is serious business, it deserves serious work and commitment. Real men do not make lame excuses.  Real men honor their covenants. Real men don’t cheat.

“I am satisfied that a happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.”
-President Gordon B. Hinckley

When a man’s focus is  on the anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of his spouse he will simply not be of a mind to stray.  It is only when he takes his focus off of her and puts it on other things, is when he allows his mind to drift into forbidden paths.

“Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person.”
-President Howard W. Hunter

When a man cheats it says so much more about his character, discipline, and focus than it does about his wife’s.  When he cheats it says he is not a man of commitment, responsibility or integrity. Real men, above all, have  character.  They don’t take their focus off their wives and children.  They are men of honor who work consistently to be the right person for their wife and children. A real man works hard to insure he is doing his part to lead his family in righteousness.

“Some think of happiness as a glamorous life of ease, luxury, and constant thrills; but true marriage is based on a happiness which is more than that, one which comes from giving, serving, sharing, sacrificing, and selflessness.”
-President Spencer W. Kimball

Real men understand that marriage isn’t easy.  But a real man is up for a challenge and isn’t a quitter.  He will find ways to improve his relationship when things seem a little bit off or start to go wrong.  He will not refuse to do what is necessary to fix a problem.  He will work selflessly to find a solution.  Real men work on their relationships. Real men go to marriage counseling with the intent to improve, when needed.

All in all, it takes a weak man to cheat.  A selfish man cheats.  A cowardly man cheats.  If the truth is really said out loud, any man has the potential and ability to be a coward under the wrong circumstances.  We are all subject to temptation and sin.  Anyone can fall.  This is the nature of life, especially if we are foolish enough to let our guard down.  So if a man cheats does that mean he is past the point of no return?

Emphatically, NO!

The epitome of a real man, a real man that deserves our highest praise and honor, is one who has made serious mistakes, but who can own up to it! He admits his weaknesses, confessed to them, willingly, he tells all of it.  For him, there is no confession that is too hard or humiliating, because he cares more about reparing the damage than he does about his own weaknesses. If a real man can confess his weaknesses then the Lord will take his weakness and make them become strong!  His infidelity will lead him to become absolutely faithful in all things, because he will have learned how!

“Love is a fragile thing, and some elements in life can try to break it. Much damage can be done if we are not in tender hands, caring hands. To give ourselves totally to another person, as we do in marriage, is the most trusting step we take in any human relationship. It is a real act of faith — faith all of us must be willing to exercise. If we do it right, we end up sharing everything — all our hopes, all our fears, all our dreams, all our weaknesses, and all our joys — with another person.”
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Then he works hard to rebuild his breech of trust.  A real man will go to his wife and humbly seek her forgiveness. He will do whatever it takes to repair the damage he has done.  He will  identify what caused him to cheat. Often finding the cause takes working through a 12-step program and/or counseling. Then he will develop a plan for himself to make the required changes. He will set up clear boundaries for himself so that it will not happen again.  He will share these new boudaries with his wife. Then he will check-in with her everyday to let her know he is committed to her and serious about repairing the damage. She will know how he is doing in his repentance because he will tell her! She won’t need to ask him.

“Converse with each other, thereby never letting little things become big things.”
-Elder Robert D. Hales

He will do everything he can to help her feel safe and work hard to rebuild her trust in him.  He will ask her often if there is something more he can do for her. Her comfort, well-being, and safety are his primary concerns.  If he violates his own boundaries, then he will go to her immedately and confess the breech.  Then he will rework his plan to shore up the weak areas.  She won’t have to worry about relapses because he is already on top of it! He will make himself accountable to her and to others who can help him.  He will seek advice from experts. He will read up on cheating and how to avoid it.  He will educte himself and share what he is learning with wife. He will not give her cause to worry any further, because he wants to be responsible to himself and to her.

“Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.”
-President Henry B. Eyring

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He will lead her in daily prayer and scripture study. He will make sure they do it together.  He will show her in everything he does that he has chosen her and is committed to her. Every action will But more than that, he will show he has chosen God and that he is committed in leading himself and his family back to Him.  Everything he does will reflect his committment to God.  And that commitment to Him, will show more than anything else he does, that he has re-committed to her. This is what real men do.

“Once I married her,” Elder Andersen said, “the standards in my life went way up — being totally consistent in prayer and scripture study, keeping the commandments with precision. She has a pure and disciplined faith.”
-Elder Neil L. Andersen

This is what recovery from betrayal trauma really looks like. It takes work, real work, willingly done by a real man! Incidentally, this is also what real repentance looks like as well!

This what a real man will do if he makes a mistake and cheats.

This is what cheaters do when they want to be real men again. This is how you will know you have a real man worth standing by.

Anything less than this is cowardly.

If you have cheated on your wife, it’s time to man up!

“Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life. Let us remember that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions.”
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Be Strong, Stay Sweet!

chocolate cupcake warrior

The Cupcake Warrior

repentance, Spiritual

What True Repentance Looks Like

Last night I was studying my scriptures.  And as often happens to me, one reference leads me to another and I ended up on this General Conference Talk from October 2016: Repentance: A Joyful Choice by Dale G. Renlund.  I highly recommend it to you for a clear concise explaination of what true repentance looks like.  It is one of those moments when you know the Lord is guiding you to a place you needed to go and I definently needed to go to this talk. It was so validating.  I need that.

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Lately I have been struggling mightily over my Ex-husband’s failure to repent, at least he is not doing it in the way I have been taught to understand that repentance looks like. But everytime I mentioned to him over the past two years that he is not fully repenting, I am met with a constant barrage of accusations of being judgmental, critical, nonsupportive and mean.  These kinds of accusations can take a toll on a person after a while, especially when I am already so hurt, wounded, and shattered.  His failure to fully repent has left deep wounds in our family that keep getting torn open again and again.  He doesn’t understand that if he truly repented it would provide a healing balm over the entire family, especially me.

Instead we get resistance, subborness, and stonewalling. He ABSOLUTELY REFUSES to repent. It feels like he refuses to repent so he can prove he isn’t really an addict, that he just made a few “bad choices.” So he treats his repentance as such.  He expects to just say he is sorry and we will all forgive him and that will be that. This mindset, that what he has done is not that bad (minimizing) causes him to be astonished that I would have the nerve to divorce him, because why would anyone divorce a spouse that they love over a few “bad choices?” So he is able to rationalize in his mind that I am really the bad guy. He feels I bailed on him, not the other way around, which is really the case to any other rational human being.

Don’t get me wrong, he IS sorry.  But it the “sorrow of the damned,” not “sorrow unto repentance” or “godly sorrow.”  There is a huge difference. Just being sorry doesn’t cut it in the case of adultery and infidelity, not by anyone’s standards, and certainly not by the Lord’s standards.

 “The word repent connotes “to perceive afterwards” and implies “change.”4 In Swedish, the word is omvänd,which simply means “to turn around.”5 The Christian writer C. S. Lewis wrote about the need and the method for change. He noted that repentance involves “being put back on the right road. A wrong sum can be put right,” he said, “but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”6 Changing our behavior and returning to the “right road” are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin.7 As explained in Ezekiel, to repent is to “turn from … sin, … do that which is lawful and right; … restore the pledge, … [and] walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity.”8

Crossroad in lavender meadow

“Never by simply going on!” This is exactly what my Cheater wants to do!  He just wants to go on  from here!  He refuses to go back to the beginning of he errors and working forward from that point.  This is the crux of the pain he has caused and is continuing to cause within his devastated family.  He had the audacity to tell my daughter last week, that he is moving on with a different woman, in yet another relationship, because ” HE DESERVES TO BE HAPPY!”  My daughter was agasted at his extreme selfishness.  Her response; “You took a baseball bat to our family and destroyed everyone, but you deserve to move on and be happy, while everyone else is left broken and bruised?”

Does this sound like real repentance to you? No. Me either.

He will tell anyone who will listen that he is repenting.  But he is not.  It is not possible to say you are repenting, and at the same time, continuing in sin. If he were truly repenting we would all be able to tell, we would all see it, we would all know it. He would change.  His behavior would change, his words would change, his countenance would change.  The righteous can clearly judge this mighty change of heart.  It is as clear as the daylight from the dark night. Elder Runland continues:

Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His Atonement effective in our lives. When we “perceive afterwards” and “turn around” with the Savior’s help, we can feel hope in His promises and the joy of forgiveness. Without the Redeemer, the inherent hope and joy evaporate, and repentance becomes simply miserable behavior modification. But by exercising faith in Him, we become converted to His ability and willingness to forgive sin.

All sorts of lightbulbs went on in my head!  My Cheater is just in “Miserable Behavior Modification.” He is trying to do this on his own, without help from anyone, using his own wisdom, and he is failing miserably.  He has not made his repentance real because he isn’t following the steps for real repentance laid out by our Savior in the scriptures.  With, what my therapist Home Teacher calls, “cheap repentance,” he will NEVER have joy. He can seek for “happiness” all he wants, but he will never find joy! This is the lot of the damned. No joy.

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Elder Packer explains:

“The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed. … It just heals, and what it heals stays healed.”9

He continued:

“The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. …

“… The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”10

“The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us. As the prophet Lehi explained, after we “are instructed sufficiently” to “know good from evil,”11 we “are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death.”12 In other words, repentance is a choice.”

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We must choose to repent.  Stunning in its simplicty. Profound in its appliction! This was another place in the talk that struck me.  Hard.  A few months before I made the decision to divorce my husband I spent days in the temple, praying and seeking for guidance on what I should or needed to do next.  I had some very sacred experiences during this time, but one thing stands out above the others.  The Lord said to me, very clearly…”Your husband has not chosen you.” As I think back on this now I understand that the Lord was also telling me, “he has not chosen me either.”  My Ex did not, and has not chosen US; the Lord, his family and me.  He has not chosen any of us.  If he would choose all of us, everything for him would change practically overnight.  He would be a changed man, with “no more desire to do evil [to his family], but to do good [to his family] continually.” He doesn’t want to do the hard work of repentance, real repentance, so he believes it will be simpler to just walk away.  Not so.

Remarkably Elder Rutland list a few things that keep us from choosing to repent.  To my astonishment they were the same symptoms of denial! He says:

“We can—and sometimes do—make different choices. Such choices may not seem intrinsically wrong, but they prevent us from becoming truly penitent and thus preclude our pursuit of real repentance.”

  1. For instance, we may choose to blame others. But blaming others, even if justified, allows us to excuse our behavior. By so doing, we shift responsibility for our actions to others. When the responsibility is shifted, we diminish both the need and our ability to act. We turn ourselves into hapless victims rather than agents capable of independent action.13
  2. Another choice that impedes repentance is minimizing our mistakes... It would have been easy to say that there was no reason to repent. But minimizing our mistakes, even if no immediate consequences are apparent, removes the motivation to change. This thinking prevents us from seeing that our mistakes and sins have eternal consequences.
  3. Yet another way is to think that our sins do not matter because God loves us no matter what we do. It is tempting to believe what the deceitful Nehor taught the people of Zarahemla: “That all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, … and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”14 But this seductive idea is false. God does love us. However, what we do matters to Him and to us. He has given clear directives about how we should behave. We call these commandments. His approbation and our eternal life depend on our behavior, including our willingness to humbly seek real repentance.15
  4. Additionally, we forgo real repentance when we choose to separate God from His commandments…We should be wary of discounting sinful behavior by undermining or dismissing God’s authorship of His commandments. Real repentance requires recognizing the Savior’s divinity and the truthfulness of His latter-day work.

My Cheater has used all of these excuses, and others, to shirk his responsibilites to himself, to me and to his family to do the hard work of real repentance.  It is interesting that these excuses are also the behaviors of an addict in denial.

Instead of making excuses, let us choose repentance. Through repentance, we can come to ourselves, like the prodigal in the parable,16 and reflect on the eternal import of our actions. When we understand how our sins can affect our eternal happiness, we not only become truly penitent but we also strive to become better.”

When faced with temptation, we are more likely to ask ourselves, in the words of William Shakespeare:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?

A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.

Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week,

Or sells eternity to get a toy?17

My Cheater has a new “toy.” That will not bring him lasting joy.  True repentance will.  Healing the wounds of his family will.  Binding up our broken hearts will.  But he would rather play with his new toy instead of repairing a family he has spent a lifetime in building.  This makes no sense to me.

Elder Runland explains:

“If we have lost sight of eternity for the sake of a toy, we can choose to repent. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we have another chance. Metaphorically, we can exchange the toy we so ill-advisedly purchased in the first place and receive again the hope of eternity. As the Savior explained, “For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.”18

My Cheater still continues to make bad choices, including refusing to do the hard work of real repentance.  It’s nice to know, I am not the only one who thinks so.

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The Cupcake Warrior

Be Sweet, Stay Strong!

addiction, betrayal, infidelity, repentance, Spiritual

Forgiveness for Adultery: Is it Different?

A family member recently told my daughter she wasn’t being forgiving enough of her Father. In the famous words of Indigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

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This idea that we just have to forgive someone even when they are still in the throws of sinning against us, is a very common musconception and reveals that the person who is saying it has a lack of basic doctrinal understanding about when, where, how and why we forgive someone who has wronged us through adultery and infidelity.

Let me be clear about something: we must forgive everyone. That much is clear in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand this. However, some wrongs are easier to forgive than others. When someone breaks your favorite toy, it  is much easier to forgive that than it is when someone breaks your family.  Some wrongs need more time and space to forgive. And some wrongs require the sinner to repent or be cast out, by the church and maybe even his own family.

Doctrine and Covenants 42 is pretty clear on this:

21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.

22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;

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26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.

This sounds to me like you get one pass in committing adultery from the church.  The 2nd time, no forgiveness is required. I might be wrong on this one, but after reading a few conference talks with this reference included, I don’t think so.

I hated it when my husband would say to me, “You are just too angry with me for me to repair anything with you. You haven’t forgiven me yet.”  Some idiot in his group told him I was like trying to hug a porcupine. So he used both of these things as excuses to not repair anything. He thinks there is no point, I won’t accept anything he would or could do, so why bother.

Except that the Lord REQUIRES him to repent, repair and restore to me what he took away.  That is why he should bother!  Of course I am angry.  He would not change, he still refuses to change, and he blamed me for his failure to do so. Wouldn’t that make you angry? Wouldn’t it make anyone angry?

Peter was pretty clear about how you treat someone who refuses to repent, repair and restore:

2 Peter 2:

14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Proverbs is very clear about what happens when a man commits adultrey and refuses to repent:

Proverbs 6:

32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

And this one is pretty clear about requiring the innocent to withdraw from the man who refuses to repent!

2 Thessalonians:

24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.

25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.

It seem pretty clear to me from my study on this topic that the Lord requires us to forgive, more for our own souls, than for the sinner.  However, it is not quite as cut and dried for adultery. If the adulterer is unrepentant and refuses to change the innocent are expected to withdraw from him in order to save themselves. The question then becomes, why? Alma gives us some insights…

Alma 46:

8 Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.
9 Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men

Of course, those who continue to be rebellious, wicked and prideful still deserve our forgiveness, but it’s pretty clear that we are not required to continually expose ourselves to the influences of these sins.

D&C 64:

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

35 And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.

I do forgive him for what he has done.  That was pretty easy to do, and it happened fairly quickly after the original offense.  What I have a hard time forgiving is what he has done since then.  I know I need to forgive him and I will, eventually.  It would be so much easier to extend that mercy if he would do what is required of him to repent, repair, and restore that which he took away. If he did the bare minimum in this regard all of our lives would change for the better.

Even so, I still need to forgive him for my own sake.  But it goes a long way with me to know that the Lord doesn’t expect me to continue to expose myself to his bad behavior while he is still in the depths of sin.  One thing my Cheater liked to bully me over was that I wasn’t supportive enough of him.  Of course not! He wasn’t repentant! The Lord expects me to protect myself from his persistent sin.  He refused to repent.  So I removed myself, and “escaped from him who lived in error.” You have every right and justification to do the same!

The Cupcake Warrior

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Be Sweet, Stay Strong!