When you discover that your child has a pornography addiction, it’s nearly impossible to keep your fear at bay. It swamps you like a tidal wave and flays open your deepest feelings, giving swift passage for your worst fears and a perfect stage to play out all of your insecurities, weaknesses and shortcomings as a mother. RESIST.
Your motherly fears may be included here: the loss of innocence, the fear that your child will never be the same, never be able to serve a mission, never be temple worthy, never be able to function in a marriage relationship, never be a good parent, never want to attend church again, never be able to handle the stresses of modern life. You may fear that their addiction is a life sentence or that in the process they will destroy others or find that it’s just a gateway to other addictions. You may fear that their own fear will overcome them one day and they will end it all. But I think that the worst fear of all comes days, months or years later when you finally accept the truth that YOU CAN’T FIX THEM.
Maybe you forgot about the ATONEMENT.
You get filters. You shut off devices. You hire counselors. You take them to every appointment. You go see the bishop. They go see the bishop. You talk to them about the evils of pornography. You question them at every turn about their activities. You cry. You get angry. You blame an event or another person or yourself. And still- you haven’t fixed it.
I don’t know that there exists despair much worse than this for a mother- A child she can’t help and a problem she doesn’t understand. Don’t forget that the ATONEMENT IS FOR US TOO.
Oh, yes…and then there’s the fear of what others think. After all, you are a good, upstanding, LDS family who always had Family Home Evening. Or maybe you didn’t…just pile on the guilt.
And then STAND STILL-just for a moment and make a decision.
You are going to live in fear or you are going to live in faith. This one decision will fundamentally change everything that you do and everything that you say to your child. That pit in your stomach? It can dissolve.
Let us remember that the source of all fear is Satan and the natural man. He wants us to hide! He wants us to be afraid. The Lord never places fear. Satan loves fear because decisions motivated by fear are never good or powerful and are often highly destructive. Fear creates insecurity, unhappiness, and anger. It begins a cycle that is very difficult to step out of. As a fearful mother dealing with an addict-child, the only thing that will allay our fears is their behaviors and decisions-a very dangerous place to be, indeed. If we fear their future, we fall apart at every relapse. If we fear their ability to overcome, we send a message that the Atonement just might not stretch far enough for them. If we fear what others think, we won’t get to the bottom of their problems because we spend all of our energy trying to play cover-up. Fear gives birth to despair. And nothing heals in Despair.
Faith, on the other hand, provides a safe place for us to embrace light and to shed it into our children’s lives. (See Wendy Watson Nelson’s book Rock Solid Relationships) Faith allows us to believe in the unbelievable-complete recovery. Faith changes the fiery furnace into what it is really is: a sacred place of personal refining. (Let’s be honest. We are all pretty good when things are going our way. When we get flung in the furnace against our will, with a problem that should never have touched our lives…then our true colors show.) Faith allows God to orchestrate their recovery-and ours. Faith allows us to be happy and confident even when a child is acting out. Faith allows us to be powerful. Faith can help us separate a child from their addiction. Faith can hone our motherly instincts. Faith can take our fears and crush them into oblivion. Faith puts our love of Jesus Christ and our trust in Him center stage. Every other feeling and decision must run through the filter of Faith. Faith removes the blinders that prevent us from seeing God’s tender mercies. Faith gives birth to hope and hope provides Light.
‘That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24)
What could be more perfect than a child living humbly in recovery? What could be more perfect than a child who truly understands the Atonement? What could be more perfect than you experiencing the ‘peace that surpasseth all understanding?’ (Philippians 4:7)
Choose faith one minute, one hour, one day at time. The Light will direct you toward perfection and heal you along the way.