“Introduction,” Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery (2014).
“Introduction,” Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery.
This guide provides resources and support to spouses and family members of individuals who are displaying compulsive behaviors. The purpose of this guide is to highlight gospel principles and doctrine that can help a spouse or family member find peace and healing through the power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. This guide does not include a prescriptive list of steps that will lead to healing for all people; rather, it will help you learn and apply gospel principles. You do not need to study the principles in sequential order, but do study all the principles in the guide, focusing on those that seem most important to you. As you study, the Spirit can direct you to apply these principles in the ways that will be the most helpful and relevant to your situation. Through this process, you will gain a better understanding of gospel principles, be introduced to specific ideas that will help you and your loved ones, and find greater peace and healing.
If you have a loved one who is ensnared in compulsive behaviors, you may feel discouraged, hurt, or hopeless. You may worry about the significant consequences that seem to loom over you and your loved one. Perhaps you just feel concerned and want to help. No matter your circumstances, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said: “There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things [see D&C 88:11–13]. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn” (“The Hope of God’s Light,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 75).
Often we focus our most desperate efforts on trying to help those we love. However, we also need the Lord’s help, and He beckons us to come unto Him and be healed (see 3 Nephi 9:13). Our priority must be to personally draw closer to the Lord. We must place our burdens at His feet, rely on His enabling power, and patiently wait upon Him. As we do so, He will succor us, and we will experience His light and hope in our lives. This will place us in a better position to support our loved ones. No matter what they may choose to do, the peace and hope of the Savior can be with us. President Howard W. Hunter said: “Peace can come to an individual only by an unconditional surrender—surrender to him who is the Prince of Peace, who has the power to confer peace. One may live in beautiful and peaceful surroundings but, because of inner dissension and discord, be in a state of constant turmoil. On the other hand, one may be in the midst of utter destruction and the bloodshed of war and yet have the serenity of unspeakable peace. If we look to man and the ways of the world, we will find turmoil and confusion. If we will but turn to God, we will find peace for the restless soul” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter , 53, 56). Our journey toward healing and peace begins with turning our hearts and our will over to the Savior.
The gospel teaches us that we are all responsible and accountable for our own actions—not for the actions of others. In order to heal completely, we must rid ourselves of any unnecessary guilt and hold our loved ones accountable for their choices. It is natural for us to feel that our loved ones’ bad choices are somehow our fault, but those feelings are inaccurate. We may worry over the things we could have done better or differently. We may assume that we could have prevented the bad choices from happening. But the truth is that we are not responsible for our loved ones’ bad choices. We are responsible only for how we respond to their choices.
An essential part of our healing is coming to accept and understand that our loved ones are responsible for their own recovery and healing. We too often incorrectly assume that we have to fix their problems for them. We may be afraid that unless we take control, the situation will continue to get worse. While our efforts may be helpful—and even lifesaving at times—it is our loved ones who must come unto the Savior, repent, become clean, and receive healing through Him. We simply cannot do that for them, and our attempts to coerce or control their choices may actually prevent or delay their recovery. When we understand that we are not responsible for and that we cannot fix our loved ones’ choices, we have taken an important step in our own healing.
When the early Saints were enduring trials and persecutions, the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled them: “Therefore, … let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17). Just as those early Saints persevered, we can accomplish much as we patiently work to improve our situation and give help to our loved ones. We can reach out for support from others, attend support group meetings, learn more about compulsive behaviors and healing, and set boundaries and limits so that we do not enable the poor choices of those we love. Furthermore, we can learn how to rely on the Lord, even when we feel that our hearts might break. As we do our part, the Lord will reach down and make more of our situations and lives than we ever could alone.
It may be hard for us to believe that our pain, sorrow, worry, and anger can be healed. But the prophet Isaiah taught, “The Lord … hath sent me to … appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1, 3). As we turn to the Lord, the peace and comfort He offers us can truly work miracles. We may not feel grateful for pain and hardship, but we can feel joy and gratitude as we become familiar with the Savior’s love and atoning power through difficult experiences. The Savior can use our trials to purify our hearts (see Mosiah 4:2) and can give us beauty for ashes. We can move forward in faith that our current trials, and all the trials we have in mortality, “shall give [us] experience, and [can] be for [our] good” (D&C 122:7).
Each section of this guide is organized into the main subsections outlined below.
This section presents a key gospel principle or idea and includes questions to help you consider how to better apply that principle or idea in your life.
This section contains additional scriptures and Church talks for personal study. The scriptures teach that the words of Christ will tell you all things that you should do (see 2 Nephi 32:3).
This section contains activities designed to help you learn and apply these principles. The intent is to provide you opportunities to ponder and study gospel principles and how they might specifically apply to you. As you study, keep a journal to record your thoughts, feelings, and impressions.
This guide is used in spouse and family support group meetings and can also be used for personal study. Attending the support meetings will help you find greater peace and hope. Visit arp.lds.org for more information.
Throughout Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery, you will see references to scriptures, conference talks, and media material. To access this material online, go to arp.lds.org/spouses-and-families and find links to the material in the online version of the guide.