Cover image: “I Will Give You Rest,” by Yongsung Kim, https://havenlight.com/
Change can be so hard! We’re all given sets of circumstances at birth and throughout our lives that can define us. If those situations become toxic, most people stay chained to the circumstances because they don’t know how to become free. However there are remarkable people who have broken away from life’s tremendously difficult challenges and have shifted the balance of their future along with that of their families…
The Gains of Overcoming Addiction
Reinee Pasarow had a stunning and illuminating near death experience that really opened my eyes when I heard her speak. She said,
“I came to realize that the people who were most important were often the ones who we might consider to be the least important in this world. I learned to see people very differently, in a new light. To give one example: consider someone who has fought hard to overcome addiction. Such a person might not be looked upon favorably in this physical world for having had an addiction. However, the tremendous struggle, the strength, and the courage that it took to overcome the powerful hold of addiction, is viewed as quite admirable in the next world. Here, we often judge people negatively for the challenges which they face, rather than by the character, fortitude, and courage they develop from facing and overcoming those immense challenges.”[i]
This process of throwing off the shackles can be excruciating, but once that occurs, there is light, the exact thing that they can use to give strength to help others in their difficult journeys.
A Revelatory Experience
A dear friend told me a wonderful experience she had years ago that helped her see meaning in her extremely traumatic life. Her childhood had been very painful and difficult because of alcoholism and abuse. As a result of these experiences she developed addictions and self-harming behaviors.
In her 40’s, she made the colossal effort to begin digging out of her pit. Because of this epic undertaking, she felt she needed extra insights and assistance, and asked for a blessing from a member of her Stake Presidency. His words gave her much to ponder. She told me:
“When he laid his hands on my head he said that in the pre-earth life I was there with friends and those I loved. When the difficult assignments were being spoken of, I heard what my friends and those I loved would have to go through in this life. Because of my love and compassion for them; I did not want them to go through these very difficult things and I volunteered to take them on to help them so that they would not have to suffer the pain and agony of those life experiences. I offered to bear those burdens and not pass them on through my family and to break the chains to cleanse and purify my family lineage.”
She happened to see this inspired man 20 years later after he had just returned home from being a mission president. He remembered that blessing all those years later. She continues:
“When I met with this man 20 years later he reminded me of the blessing he had given me, and told me he had given thousands of blessings since that time but he had never forgotten mine. He remembered it with great clarity and said that he had never understood before that people could be “saviors” for others by taking on their trials so that they would not have to suffer and go through them.”[ii]
This blessing gave my friend hope. She has since worked with many other people in addiction and recovery and helped them break chains of darkness. She can see the blessing being fulfilled.
Climbing up to Mount Zion: A Light To Generations
As Elder Richard G. Scott observed:
“Changing a profoundly embedded pattern of life can be very difficult. . . Persistent faith in the Savior and obedience will see you through such hardships to greater blessings. The scriptures illustrate how conviction and faith can overcome traditions… bringing blessings to individuals, and even generations of people.”[iii]
Once these people climb out of their dark places, and become beings of light, through the atonement of Christ, they can lift and “save” others by bringing them into recovery and healing.
Valiant Spirits Are Sent to Certain Family Lines
Dr. Carlfred Broderick, former president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists shares more light on this topic:
“God actively intervenes in some destructive lineages, assigning a valiant spirit to break the chain of destructiveness in such families… Although these children may suffer innocently as victims of violence, neglect, and exploitation, through the grace of God some find the strength to “metabolize” the poison within themselves, refusing to pass it on to future generations. Before them were generations of destructive pain; after them the line flows clear and pure…
“Their children and children’s children will call them blessed. In suffering innocently that others might not suffer, such persons, in some degree, become as “saviors on Mount Zion” by helping to bring salvation to a lineage.”[iv]
The Alcoholic I Never Became
I am the product of family members who generations ago decided to give up habits and join the Church. One day I had a profound experience where I “saw” the person I WOULD have been without the benefit of the “chain-free” Gospel that my progenitors had fought so hard to achieve. It became known to me that if I hadn’t been a member of the Church, I would have chosen a very different path. I would have been an alcoholic, and my life would have been in a shambles, BUT because I adhered to the Word of Wisdom and had NEVER TAKEN A DROP of alcohol to drink, the “chains” had NO hold. My forbearers were my “saviors” and I was blessed to continue in their culture.
We Can All be “saviors”
How can we be a “savior?” We all know that temple work allows us to help people on the “other side” to change. It is a magnificent work, but it isn’t the only one. When we live the gospel, and support others in living it, we’re breaking the potential chain of addiction, abuse and darkness of soul before it forms, and can become “saviors” on THIS side of the veil.
If you encounter someone who is struggling with addiction, self-esteem or any other darkness – look into their eyes, and their soul. Know that they may be one of God’s finest spirits. Ask the Lord how you can help them. You might suggest that they attend the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program.[v] It could be that your support and aid could help them break free from chains that bind, allowing them to completely transform their lives and then be Savior-like to others.
We’re Entitled to Angels
Jeffrey R. Holland gave this inspired counsel to those wanting to help those struggling with addiction. He taught,
“Acknowledge that people bound by the chains of true addictions often need more help than self-help, and that may include you. Seek that help and welcome it…Pray without ceasing. Ask for angels to help you….”[vi]
Boyd K. Packer echoes the same important message of angelic resources, when he said,
“If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.”[vii]
God sends angels from heaven and angels from the earth to help break chains of addiction and suffering.
Are You the One?
Ask yourself these important questions.
Are you the one in your family line that is breaking the chains of heartache and suffering? Or are you the one like me, who has benefited from the chains your ancestors have broken? Either way, there are many who need our help. We need to recognize the greatness of their souls and give them support as they make the arduous ascent out of darkness into the light.
Let’s first climb onto Mount Zion with the aid of Christ’s atonement, and then lift up as many as we can. We have the power through Him to “save” and “be saved.”
[ii] Name withheld. Personal correspondence. Used by permission.
[iii] Richard G. Scott (1998, May), Removing barriers to happiness, Ensign, 28(5), 86).
[iv] Carlfred Broderick, Ensign, August, 1986, “I Have a Question”).
[vi] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” Ensign, May 2010, 45-46.
[vii] Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, Nov. 2010, p. 76)