Hey guys, Audy here. I asked a friend who I also refer to as Genius to be my first guest poster in a series I'm calling, "Finding My Jesus." She replied, "Last night the spirit told me to ask you to allow me to guest post on your blog but I felt apprehensive because it's your blog and all." Guys, sometimes God works in mysterious ways. And sometimes they are as obvious as this. Clearly she said, "Yes," and I jumped for joy and high-fived the stranger next to me and confetti rained from the ceiling of the grocery store. Please submit your own stories or experiences, anonymous or not to firstname.lastname@example.org. And give my anonymous friend some love for being so articulate, wise and brave.
Early on in my married life I had reached a low point. On the outside it may have looked like everything was perfect. My husband was just finishing up his last year of university and we had become parents 9 months earlier. But looks can be deceiving. The unhappiness level in my home was high because I was a control freak. I wanted to control every single facet of my life, especially my husband. I thought that I could make him be happy by forcing him to be exactly how I wanted him to be. I figured it would only be a matter of time before he would see the brilliancy of my ways and we would live happily ever after! But neither of us was very happy. My behaviour was driving a deep wedge between us. I realized that if I didn't get a grip on my control issues I would continue to push away my absolutely amazing husband and probably single-handedly bring about the demise of our marriage.
I committed to changing. I didn't want my husband to be unhappy. And I didn't really need to control things to be happy, right? Well, I tried to change. And I tried, and I tried, and I tried. I could white-knuckle my way through not controlling everything for a day. If I really, really tried I could almost pull off two days. But it never lasted. Even when I knew my attempt to control a situation would ruin everything I was completely incapable of stopping myself! It was demoralizing, disheartening, and left me feeling worthless. Why couldn't I stop? Look what my control issues were causing! Why did I have a compulsion to control everyone and everything? I had tried to change my behaviour and prove that I could stop being controlling. I thought I had used the atonement for my mistakes. And yet, no change! Satan started to feel like a constant presence in my life. He was the monkey on my back that gladly reminded me of when I had failed and told me over and over that I could never change, that I would lose everything and it would be all my fault.
I talked to my mom about my frustrations and heartache over my behaviour. After I had told her about how helpless I felt she told me about a twelve-step addiction-recovery book that she had been doing. I was shocked! My mother wasn't an addict! Why was she doing a twelve-step program?! "It's basically a twelve-step come unto Christ program. It's life changing. Go buy it and find some trusted friends to do it with." I had run out of other options at this point so I bought the book, found some dear friends to participate in the program with me, and started my journey toward control-issue recovery. Along the way I learned a lot, but probably the most important thing I learned was that before the program I believed in Christ and I knew about Him and his life. After the program I believed in Christ - believed He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do - and I knew Him and knew how His life could completely transform my life.
My paradigm about Jesus Christ completely shifted. Having a relationship with Christ transformed how I saw my control issues. The honest truth was I had no power in and of myself to make any type of change concerning my control issues. But when I relied wholly upon the Lord as my Savior - cleansing me of my sin - and as my Redeemer - enabling me through His grace to "receive strength and assistance to do good works that [I] otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to [my] own means" (Bible Dictionary:Grace) - everything started to change. My desire to control others diminished. It was no longer a white-knuckle experience. I didn't have to exert all my effort to try and hold my tongue. When I submitted myself to the Lord's will and gave him praise and glory for all things, He changed my heart. I was blessed by my Savior to be spiritually born of God (Alma).
When I only knew about Christ I had confused the charge to "Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him" (Moroni) with "Be perfect and then come unto Christ". His atonement isn't something we should access only after we have proven that we really mean to change. The atonement can be accessed at any time! I used to think the atonement was only for sins and mistakes, but Christ's atonement is for much more than that. It's the reason we can do better and be changed into someone better. I no longer take a poorly polished and glued-together mess of sin to Christ and say, "I tried to make it better and hopefully you won't be mad that I couldn't. Please forgive me." I kneel down in the midst of the brokenness my sin just created and say, "I'm so sorry, Lord. Through your infinite atonement please forgive me. And through your merciful atonement and grace please enable me to do better. I give you glory for your atonement, grace, and mercy." Now that I know Christ, I know He is happiest when I come to Him, no matter what mess I've made and no matter how weak I am. As I go to Him in sincerity and humility He will lead me to become perfected in Him.
When I only knew about Christ Satan felt like a constant presence in my life. Sometimes it would feel like Satan would threaten me by saying, "You will never be rid of me! I will be around every corner. There is no where you can hide that I won't find you. And there is nothing you can do to make me go away. It's you and me forever!" What a horrible feeling! Satan knew how to fill me with darkness and dread and to see all the reasons why he was right about me failing. It's hard to move forward when it feels like you've already lost. After I knew Christ a wonderful thing happened. I began to see that all those menacing things Satan was saying to me was actually the same things Christ was saying to me. Christ was never going to leave me. I could never be rid of Him and His love and His atonement. There was no where I could hide from Him, no matter the bondage of sin I was in. He would always be with me. It was me and Jesus forever! The presence of Christ is so enlightening and enlarging that it fills me with hope. Satan still doesn't leave me alone and he never will. But the Lord helps me feel like I can do all things "through Christ which strengtheneth me (Philippians).
When I only knew about Christ I struggled with feelings of worthlessness. I felt too broken and messed up for Him to fix. I thought that I could somehow be beyond His help and healing. Now that I know Christ I have traded in feelings of worthlessness with feelings of gratitude and unworthiness for the blessings He has given me in my life. I am a sinner and an unprofitable servant (Mosiah) and yet He still blesses me with all the blessings that love and law will allow! Christ is so amazing and I am in awe of his grace and eternal love for me. I also now know that no one is beyond His help and healing. In John 11 we learn of Lazarus who had been dead for three days. He had been dead long enough that he had started to stink! But even Lazarus was not beyond the miraculous healing of the Savior. Lazarus was raised from a physical death; you and I can be raised from a spiritual death. There is no "it's too late" with Christ the Lord.
Are my control issues completely gone? No. But that's why they call it "recovering". However, my control issues are drastically less than they used to be. Thankfully my marriage didn't crumble and we are happily married! I am still a sinner. I make many, many mistakes. At times I forget or ignore all I have learned about relying on Christ and having a constant relationship with Him. However, I am blessed that when I reach out to Him He is there. He teaches and guides me through his love, mercy, and grace. I am blessed to know Him better because of it. And knowing Him has made all the difference.