Two weeks ago when I left on vacation I was committed to following my plan to make sure that I studied my scriptures at least 15 minutes a day — most likely in the evening. This would be the difference in my plan this time versus all of the times in the past. Usually when I go on vacation I’m fairly triggered by the end of it and that would always frustrate me. After analyzing past experiences, I realized that it was because I wasn’t doing my morning studies which would result in me being more tempted, more frustrated, and more manic by the end of the trip. But this time would be different.
This time I was bound and determined to get it right. I knew that in order to have a fighting chance I would have to create a new behavior while I was on our trip and to be dedicated to making sure the plan happened. Step one, create a plan. The plan was simple: make sure that I read my scriptures at least 15 minutes per day. Having multiple failures at this plan in the past I decided my study would be in the evening before I went to bed for the next day. The reason for this was simple: We love to get up early and hit the ground running. We squeeze everything we can out of each day and when we do that there’s never room for personal study when you’ve got a family waiting on you to get going. Plan created: Check!
Step two: Follow the plan starting right away! The very first night was in a hotel and I got the kids all settled in and after brushing my teeth I went straight to my scriptures. I was going to start this off right. And then I did the same thing for the next 8 days. It worked! When you sit on a beach with all manner of people in various forms of dress and undress it is easy to become distracted and let your guard down. But I didn’t feel out of sorts. Oh sure, I would see attractive women, but I kept telling myself to “Be Present” (one of my favorite mantras) and I was fine. I did not feel rattled, overly distracted, or even triggered. It was a pleasant week.
I did run out of gas on the last day (I didn’t read the night before because I was tired). I paid the price in terms of feeling more distracted and having to guard my thoughts and eyes in a way that took a lot more energy and at the end of the day I realized I only had myself to blame. I had not given my addiction over to God to handle while I tried to go about His business for me. But I was still okay, just a little haggard compared to the other days.
At the end of it all I consider this a grand success! It was a thousand times better than any of my other vacations and I realized why that was — I followed God’s plan for me and gave the defense over to Him and it worked. I’m very thankful that He took care of me and helped me see how much He loves me and is willing to help me when I focus on His plan for me, my family, and those around us.
I hope my story will help you in some way. If nothing else, I hope you can see that progress comes one step at a time and even if it’s halting and feels like you’re stopping and starting, and not quite getting it right the first time, that you’ll just keep trying. Because with God’s help and your determination to get it right by giving the care over to Him while you focus on being balanced in your life and doing your part to do His will for you (which usually means doing something for someone else) you will eventually find that you change. You build new patterns and behaviors. Healthy ones. Peaceful ones.
Keep up the good work my friends! And if you’ve slipped up lately, don’t beat yourself up over it — just call your sponsor or a friend and get back on track, right away! Nothing is better than serving others and working your 12 steps. I especially enjoyed going to my meeting last night for the first time in a few weeks and meeting with my fellow brothers as we “trudge the broad highway of happy destiny together.”
My name is Mike