I'm going to return to the topic of the Atonement, and about the experiences which I had as I continued on in overcoming my addictions. For those who haven't seen the beginning of this discussion, or if you'd like to be reminded of it, it begins with this post: http://onelowerlight.blogspot.com/2014/02/learning-atonement.html, and continues for the next several.
As I mentioned in my posts, there came a point in my strugglings to overcome my addictions that I found it much easier to stay away from temptation. There was a point three years ago that I had been over a year and a half without intentionally seeking out pornography, and I found that my desires to do so were continually dwindling. This came at the end of my first year of singing in Latter-Day Voices. The year had taught me so much, and I came to know my Savior so much that it just plain wasn't a desire for me any longer.
Summer eventually came, and many of the blessings which I had available to help me continue to grow spiritually left my life. However, I found that I had a new-found strength to overcome what came my way. The first few weeks were a bit of a struggle for me. Not because I was struggling with pornography, rather it somehow came to find me. One of the worst things about this nasty drug is that it's very difficult to completely shut oneself away from it. It's just everywhere. I would find myself doing a google image search for completely safe things, sometimes even church related images, with the filter set to the highest safety available. I'd look through the images and then Bang! there was an image that I didn't want to see. By the way, I hardly ever use google image searches anymore because they lost my confidence in the system.
This same thing happened to me a couple times a week for a couple of weeks. I hated it so much. Here I was doing really well and not giving way to temptation, yet here it was anyway. Each time it happened, it completely killed my day. I felt nearly as bad as I did when I intentionally sought it out on my own. I was filled with a sense of guilt and shame for seeing it. It weighed very heavily on my mind for several weeks as I tried to get back on track.
During this time, I happened to be taking an Institute class. One day in class, I suddenly had an impression enter my mind. Each time that this happened, I immediately blocked the image from my view and hit the close button on the browser. My reaction was about what I imagine it would have been had I never been involved with it from the beginning. My intention was not to partake of it, but it was instead to keep myself clean.
At this time I was taught a lesson that has come back to me many times. In my own life, the Lord doesn't expect me to be perfect. There are many times in my life when I fall short of God's and my own expectations. I sometimes sin or err without meaning to, sometimes it may even come because of actions taken outside of my control.
The beauty of the Atonement, is that Christ has taken upon Himself those smaller sins, so we could repent and move on. See God doesn't expect us to be perfect in this life, rather He wants us to live our lives such that we are perfectable through the Atonement of Christ. The Atonement really makes it possible to overcome those daily things that we fail to do as God desires. It happens to everyone. We fail to do our home teaching, we look at Facebook in Sunday School (yes, I know that you do it too), we get upset with those around us, etc. Life happens, and sometimes our natural beings gives in; however, if we give our sincerest effort to be perfect and are humble enough to accept the Atonement, the Lord will bless us. I've been struggling with this a bit in my life lately. My life is quite busy, and sometimes I forget or neglect to do some things up to the standards I know I should. Heck, this morning I decided to get just a little bit more sleep after my alarm went off. I ended up sleeping an extra two hours, and I missed my 7:30 meeting this morning.
I've learned to truly appreciate the Atonement in my life at times like this. We can repent of those things which we've fallen short in and move on without guilt to try harder. That is where the Sacrament is such a blessing in my life. It allows me to renew the power of the Atonement in my life each week to overcome those small shortcomings in my life.
After this epiphany, I found that I had these run-ins with pornography less and less frequently. I felt that the Lord blessed me with the enabling power of the Atonement to take me to a higher plane in my healing. In fact, I honestly can't remember the last time that I had any kind of run-in with it. I have no urges anymore. I look at the world much differently now. I wasn't perfect that summer, but I had found myself humble and teachable before the Lord. In return He has blessed me with the means to put this business behind me. I feel no guilt about any of what I did, in fact to me, just as in the scriptures, it's like I never even committed any sin.
This will probably be the last I will discuss my addictions, but it will definitely not be the end of my thoughts on the Atonement. I have so much more to share. I love the Atonement, and what it has done and continues to do for me. It covers so much more than our sins. It gives me a hope for a much better life each and every day, and I continue to learn just how much bigger it is daily. I'd love to hear the thoughts of others on the power of the Atonement in my life.