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Friday, September 30, 2011

Get Help Now

Dear Bro Jo,

Someone told me you were good at giving advice, and right now I need all the advice I can get because I honestly don't know what to do at this point anymore.

I'm almost 19, and serving a mission is my focus right now, but I'm absolutely terrified that given behavioral patterns of mine, I won't be able to do that. I won't go into specifics, but I'm sure you can figure it out. I honestly feel like its too late right now or that I'm too far gone to do anything about it.

I've come to know and realize that it's an addiction that I've been struggling with for almost 7 years. I know I need to change what I'm doing. But I'm also embarrassed, terrified, humiliated to talk to anyone about what I've been doing, because what I've done I'm certainly not proud of.
It's ruined relationship that I've had, namely a girl and myself doing a lot of things I knew at the time I shouldn't have been doing but did nothing to stop it. This thing I've been going through has let to chastity issues, which I know is absolutely NOT okay. I've looked online for ways to help me fix the situation I find myself in, and nothing seems to work at all. I feel like if I tell me parents about it, they'll just feel disappointed or ashamed or something. I feel like I can't talk to any of my friends about it because they'll judge me and they'll stop being my friends.

But most of all I'm afraid of talking to my bishop about what's been going on because of the consequences. I'm petrified that if I tell him everything it'll either keep me from going on a mission, which everyone expects me to do because no one has any idea of what's been going on, or worse, I'll be excommunicated. I feel like it'll cost too much to talk to anyone about anything. But it's worse and worse the more I think about it.

I've lied in interviews, gone to the temple or taken the sacrament when I know I shouldn't have, and I just feel lost and hopeless. And I realize that's just Satan getting in my head, but honestly I feel like sometimes he's right and I have no business or right to go to church or socialize with members.

I know this is a lot to take in for a first email, but I took what little comfort I could in knowing that you are a complete and total stranger, so for some reason the thought of telling you about everything seemed a lot easier to bear then someone I knew.

Please, please, please help me out. I've prayed countless times to help resist Satan's advances and I know the Lord is trying His best to help me, which makes me realize it's me that's not getting the job done. And I know He's never going to give me anything beyond my capacity to handle, but still, this stuff I've been keeping inside of me is getting to be too hard to hold in anymore because I know time is running out. I turn 19 in 7 months and I fear a complete and total repentance process, while every single bit necessary, would postpone my mission departure or knock it out completely.

I'm scared that if it does get pushed back, people will wonder why and the reason will eventually come out and ruin any relationships I have within the church. At this point I'm willing to do anything to stop this and move past it, because right now I honestly feel like a complete and total failure with everything I do. I feel like my lack of ambition for life in general is attributed to this, and I'm just sluggish and don't have that peppy, bright, happy countenance that I see other people have. I pretend like everything is fine and fake my way through the days, but I'm tired of that. It's time to make a change, and I know that, I just don't know where to start, or if it's even possible at this point.

Any shred of help or insight I will gladly take. And I apologize for the nature of this email and for just dropping it on you out of nowhere, but I need help, and I need it now.

- Name Withheld



Dear Brother,

One thing at a time, my brother. You need to put your pride aside and get some help. Not the generic, pointless, non-personal kind of help you find on the internet, but the kind of help that will help you mend things with your Savior and your God.

Stop worrying about the consequences, and start thinking in eternal terms. Stop fearing man (your parents, your Bishop, others) and set things right with He who loves you most.

Those feelings you have (not going to Church, not socializing with members) and fears you have (missionary service, excommunication, the need to cover your sins with lies) are absolutely from Satan.

I'm going to be blunt with you, brother, because that's what I do and that's how much I care.

Stop making excuses! Stop allowing Satan to rule your life and make you feel miserable!

The time has come for you to stop procrastinating the day of your repentance.

Call your Bishop, and call him now.

Do it.

No excuses.

That's where you start.

And you start now.

Seriously.

Stop everything you're doing the instant you get this email. Make the call. Tell your Bishop that you have a serious need to talk to him right away. Tonight, if possible.

If you can't reach him by phone, go to his home.

If he's not there, go see his first counselor or a member of your stake presidency.

No kidding.

Go now.

When the appointment has been set (or concluded if you can see him right away), then please send me an email letting me know that you've done that which you know you ought to do.

And when you do meet, pray first, and spill your guts. Get it all out. I promise you will feel better when you do, even if it means your road to repentance seems long and difficult. Better to be moving in the right direction than continuing to slip the wrong way.

Pornography is a dangerous thing, my brother. Stop and get help now.

- Bro Jo

5 comments:

Peter & Molly said...

You need to be willing to take this step no matter the consequences, but the consequences aren't as bad as you're probably worried. Your bishop will keep everything in confidence. We say that no one is perfect, and yet I think sometimes we get this idea of the perfect imperfect person, and we think that everyone expects us to be that person. Everyone screws up, big. Yet everyone loves each other anyway. So it is worth it to get straight with God no matter the consequences, but when you're in the midst of sin Satan makes it seem so much harder to get out then it really is. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the not worrying about the consequences so much thing. Excommunication is certainly not a common thing within the church. Something similar to this happened to a guy in my ward, a few years older than me. He was already in the MTC when he realized he hadn't made things right. I know he was really, super embarrassed to have to come back to our ward after being gone for a few weeks, and deal with all the questions. But he went through the entire process and is now back on his mission, serving honorably! So it really isn't as bad as you think. It's tough, but you can and must get through it. Don't let it get worse, and don't serve a dishonest mission. You can do it!

Cassànndrè said...

missions are good but at this point, you absolutely need to be focused on repenting. many a young man has gone through addiction and served an honorable mission (i know some). many have also have not, but still turned out to be admirable men who married in the temple and are wonderful fathers and priesthood holders (i know some of those as well). if you don't go on a mission right away at 19 or even at all, it will be hard because at your age everyone asks about it. your bishop, close friends, and loving family can help you figure out how to navigate in an honest and dignified way.
my heart goes out to you. it is soo good that you chose to take this step and email bro jo. let your bishop become one of your best friends. i've had bishops i felt it difficult to connect with, but when i prayed about it the Lord eventually blessed me with the experiences i needed to know, trust, and truly love my bishop.

be completely honest with yourself- about your mistakes, the consequences, your future, and also your talents, skills, and gifts. pornography is definitely destructive to the soul, but satan would have you believe that it has taken over and eliminated everything else. this is simply not true. remember that you DO have righteous desires and cherish those. keep them in that special, sacred place in your heart and never, ever, stop hoping and having faith that through the Atonement and mercy of Christ, those desires will surely be fulfilled. focus on the repentance process, particularly using the church's addiction recovery program and other similar resources. this 12-step program will teach you how to utilize the Atonement in your every day life to overcome addiction, codependency, depression, self-hate, self-destructive thinking, and other unproductive habits.

the Lord loves you. i've no idea who you are, but i love you. my heart goes out to you and i sense that, like many who struggle with this same problem, you are truly a valiant soul who feels deeply, is intelligent and talented.

God bless.

http://providentliving.org/content/list/0,11664,4177-1,00.html

http://www.heart-t-heart.org/

http://www.heart-t-heart2.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=HTH2&Product_Code=CHPH-SC&Category_Code=12Step

Anonymous said...

I know your practice is to post letters a couple of months after the e-mail, but maybe my husband's experience will help. As a teenager, he did things he should not have done (masturbation, pornography, and oral sex one time), but he had a testimony of the church and knew he wanted to serve a mission. He made the difficult decision to repent with the help of his bishop. Repentence was not easy and took time. His mission was delayed by one full year in order to ensure that he repented and "stayed clean" for a minimum of six months. This ensured that, when he went on his mission, he was worthy and did not feel guilty about unresolved sin. He served a successful, faithful mission and has been active in the church since his return. He and I were married in the temple 6 years ago and, though he does struggle occasionally (pornography will always be a struggle, I believe), he has learned to trust in the Lord, look to the Lord for help and strength, and repent when necessary. It may very well be a hard process for this young man, but the longer he waits to begin, the harder it will be and the easier to justify not getting the help he needs.

Anonymous said...

I just listened to Elder Holland's talk from the priesthood session this last weekend, it was an amazing talk and really hit on this topic of preparing and being worthy for a mission. In fact I felt like an overwhelming theme of this conference was repentance. You are very brave to have e-mailed bro jo, take this bravery one step forward and go to your bishop who is called of God, (my dad was just called as bishop and I found out that before the stake president can issue the call to a bishop that person's name has to be approved by the first presidency!! I never knew that!) Also if you missed conference, or especially if you missed Elder Holland's talk, take the time to listen to it... it will seriously help in any situation!!