Understanding "Powerless"

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ScottPart2
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Understanding "Powerless"

Post by ScottPart2 » Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:10 am

CHPH, page 94

4. "A shotgun working of Steps One, Two, and Three." This phrase suggests a rapid, almost automatic reworking of these vital steps. "I can't. God can. I'll let Him." I have to be willing to take these steps again and again, as often as it takes. In doing so, I begin living the Savior's invitation to "look unto me in every thought." (D&C 6:36)
I am willing and am trying to do this at every opportunity, as soon in the process as possible. "I can't. God can. I'll let Him." I don't always know what that means, or what is supposed to happen, but I am trying to say that and do it.
5. "We repeat this surrender at the very point of our terror, in the pit of our hell. For that's where the admission of powerlessness really works, when we're in the raw heat of temptation and craving." I must remember that, "there's no power over the craving in advance." To change lifelong patterns, I have to be willing to admit I am tempted again, face the temptation, and surrender it, rather than surrender to it.
I don't know what is meant by "terror," except it sounds like in the midst of strong temptation. I am willing to acknowledge that I am tempted yet again, and repeat the process of surrender anew.
It has been said in great simplicity: "The only way to stop is to stop." In other words, while the Lord will lower the intensity of a temptation for me, He still requires me to exert whatever amount of courage and agency I can muster—no matter how small. I must remember that He said: "My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me." (Ether 12:27, emphasis added.) Continuing surrender is an act of humility. It is an admission of my continuing need for Christ, acknowledgment of His power, and a petition for that amazing gift to be applied in my behalf (Steps One, Two, and Three).
The way this is phrased makes sense in a way that the phrase in Step One does not. The LDSFS booklet makes sense the same way by saying "we, of ourselves, are powerless." That qualification helps understanding.

I am trying not to worry about definitions; "powerlessness" always seems like the wrong word to use—it defies all gospel descriptions of who God made man to be and causes confusion in me, which is not light. It defies the Lord's own words. I don't think it's pride on my part; I'm willing to be and admit to being powerless. I've tried to do and be that, but it doesn't feel true. This paragraph from CHPH makes sense to me because it says that "He still requires me to exert whatever amount of courage and agency I can muster"—in other words, power—"however small."

I have tried calling on the Lord and just "being powerless," but it hasn't worked. Only when I call upon him in the act of surrender to his will—and that's when I have to call upon and use whatever resolve or courage or will (power) I can muster—am I able to let go and let the temptation move past without it clinging to me and working it's way into my head or heart.

Granted, the Lord gives us whatever puny personal power we may find within, but only in reaching for it and using it does he strengthen it or connect us with his power.

Ether 12 says it well, that we must "humble [our]selves before [him]." Even that is a small act of will, of personal power.

I don't want to argue definitions. I just want to find the way for me to understand this that makes sense and brings me to God. I pray for strength (there's that power word again) to surrender to the Power of God, repeatedly, as often as is required, and accept his will as law and not my own.

tomk
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Post by tomk » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:10 am

I don't think admitting "powerlessness" contradicts the Lord's Gospel in any way. Our admission of "powerlessness" is always to be coupled with "but in HIS strength I can overcome" - THAT is the key, Scott. THAT is what makes "powerlessness" okay.

Versus, "I am powerless to overcome this habit" -- that is just giving-up and giving-in to Satan's lies. That kind of admission of powerlessness is an admission of a lack of faith in Christ. That kind of powerlessness is not what step 1 is talking about.

This is all about partnering with Christ. Becoming friends. Becoming willing to cry unto him when we begin to feel like a slip is in the works. I have been blessed with 6 weeks of abstinence, and this morning I still had to cry unto Him for rescue. I had to do it several times - and He delivered me. That is something I am learning as well. Sometimes just crying unto Him ONCE is "not enough". We have to keep crying unto Him until we are delivered. Obviously we have to do our part as well. We must leave the situation as soon as possible.

You can do this. Christ's grace IS sufficient for you.

Keep coming back man. I think you're doing fantastic.


Tom

Kenyon
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Post by Kenyon » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:13 am

Scott,

I think the answer to what you are seeking is this.

How long have we thought to ourselves, before understanding these principles, I can do better than this? If I just exercise more will power against this temptation then I will conquer this addiction. Indeed, we may not have even viewed these behaviors as an addiction. I think that we are powerless to overcome these addictions BY OURSELVES. We must turn to the Lord for help. It is like a little child thinking that they can do tasks that only adults are capable of doing. They cannot do it of themselves. However, if they turn to someone, an adult who has the capability, then they are able to complete the task. In the same way, we are not totally powerless in the situation, but we are powerless to overcome these addictions without help. Our power lies in being able to turn to and ask for help from the One who has the power to help us. Our power lies in the ability to choose and to direct our will. Even in that we may be weakened to the point where we have a hard time doing just that. The realization of powerlessness means, I think, with respect to the addiction(s) that plague us.

In a sense we may not be completely powerless to overcome temptations themselves, after all, sometimes we can white knuckle our way through them. I think it applies to the bigger picture, that of being free from the addictive behaviors and the character defects which lead us to turn to the addiction in the first place.

I hope this is making sense.

Kenyon

tomk
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Post by tomk » Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:45 pm

In a sense we may not be completely powerless to overcome temptations themselves, after all, sometimes we can white knuckle our way through them. I think it applies to the bigger picture, that of being free from the addictive behaviors and the character defects which lead us to turn to the addiction in the first place.

I am really glad you said this the way you said it.

Even if we were able to "white-knuckle" our way through - we would not be better-off, because we would not have been able to avail ourselves of the Lord's grace or forged a stronger relationship with Him. It's more about the relationship than what plagues us. When we get close to Him, the acting-out diminishes, and eventually goes away completely -- but we have to really be willing to be that close to Him.

I agree -- it's not just about having the power to overcome something on our own. It's about learning to partner with Christ, to come to him, to have a relationship with Him. Everyone needs to have a relationship with Christ, even those who do not seem to suffer from addiction. We all have something to work on. We all have character defects. That will remain true until the day we die (at a minimum). So there is always a need for a relationship with Christ, no matter what our situation is.

Even if our character defects did not cause us to engage in addictive behaviors -- we still need that oneness with Christ. We still need to counsel with Him daily.

ScottPart2
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P.S. and Agreement

Post by ScottPart2 » Tue Mar 18, 2008 1:05 pm

I signed back on to add a P.S. and saw your replies (thanks!), so;

P. S. Along with all the surrendering of anything related to addiction, I have also felt and want to state the need to surrender to Christ in all things—in any small nudge or prompting I get to speak to someone, to do a certain thing right now instead of later, etc. That gets me in the mode of obedience and surrender. If I stall on those things, then I am practicing the very behavior I don't want to happen in the moment of temptation to act out.

and

As far as I can see, I completely agree with both of you and your comments and what you're both saying is exactly what I was trying to say, but maybe failed.

What has begun to dawn on me lately is that I already understood "powerless" correctly before I even started this (as in, I had never even tried to "white knuckle" and resist—I knew I couldn't do it alone). Once I was in recovery I started hearing these "new concepts" and trying to understand them in some "new way" which only led to confusion. So, I am also surrendering the need to understand and comprehend definitions and simply surrendering to the Lord's will, period, in all things, to whatever extent I am able and to whatever extent he grants me his power to do.

tomk
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Post by tomk » Tue Mar 18, 2008 3:28 pm

Scott:

I don't know if you have a sponsor yet, but you may want to get one. He can help you with understanding some of these things in terms of your recovery. It sounds to me like you understand powerlessness (in the way Christ would define it) just fine.

I've been at this for a few years, and I am just beginning to understand a lot of it. Not because I don't understand it intellectually -- but I mean, coming to understand it as God defines it.

I strongly believe that God must reveal the meaning of "powerlessness" and a host of other things to us. He must write it upon our hearts. No amount of study and book learning can do that.

Keep at it. For me the progress has been very slow. Yet, when I look back, I can see that it has been in a steady upward climb. I don't know where I would be or how I would proceed without my Jesus. I owe Him everything, and I need His grace to attend me every day.

Tom

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