Fasting has become a regular habit of mine over the past nine months, but it hasn't always been.
Last month, I was fasting on Fast Sunday. I tend to get headaches while I fast and this time was no different. We came home from church at noon and by 1:00 I wasn't feeling so great.
I told my wife how I felt and that I was going to break my fast. All she said was "excuses, excuses". My pride was hurt, and in an attempt to add excuses to my excuses, I stopped mid sentence, sighed, and said, "you're right". I tucked my tail between my legs, girded my loins, and finished my fast and was blessed.
I realized my life had been full of excuses, one right after the other. Some of them were meaningless while others prevented me from being joyful and qualifying for eternal life. Those excuses that kept me from having joy and achieving eternal life were most serious and each one was designed to keep me bound to my addiction and desires. Now that I look back at my excuses each one was inspired by the adversary and each one of them stunk!
At the root of each excuse was pure selfishness and pride. Some of the excuses were easy for me to identify. They were the big ones; they were the ones that kept me from revealing my addiction. But as I pondered and made a list of what each excuse was, I began to see that there were underlying excuses that bound me even more, and were backup plans if I were to ever get past my main excuses.
I'd like to share my list, I want to get them out in the open because I'm certain they are some of the exact same excuses many of us have.
Pride. Number one, grand daddy of them all, king of excuses. For me this was my big one! More specifically, I was certain that I had the power and strength to overcome my addiction by myself. I figured that at some point I would hit the lottery and be able to stop. I didn't need help. I was wrong. How could I not see that? I had spent years thinking I could do it. The truth is, no matter how long the problem has been there, I couldn't do it alone. I couldn't do it period. I needed divine intervention, I needed heavenly help, and I needed the Savior. I could not do it without him, plain and simple.
Fear. I was fearful of my addiction being found out. Fear of my wife, the bishop, and others finding out that I have a problem. I was fearful of losing my calling that I loved so much. I was fearful of admitting to myself that I had a problem that I couldn't fix myself and that I was out of control. What a ridiculous excuse for a grown man to have, fear. What I should have feared was my standing before the Lord when the day of final judgment came. What would my excuse have been then?
Fear and faith cannot coexist.
Denial. It's not that bad, I only view pornography once a month, every other week, once a week. The truth is it's also not just about pornography on on the computer, in a movie, or in a magazine. It's the lust over women everyday. It's the thoughts every hour, minute, and second. It's the swimsuit model in the magazine, the actress on the TV, and the neighbor down the street. Whatever it is, it's bad, it'll keep me from eternal life, keep me from my Heavenly Father, and it will keep me from my family.
Justification & Rationalization. This is the "one foot in Zion and one foot in Babylon" excuse. I was praying and reading scriptures daily, fasting, attending church each week, fulfilling my calling faithfully, paying tithing, being a missionary, sharing my testimony, being a good father and husband, and generally being a good and faithful disciple of Christ. Because of all the good stuff I was doing it was OK to dip into evil "just a little bit". I was convinced the Lord would look past "just a little bit" when there was so much good I was doing.
Blinding Myself. The wool is pulled over my eyes. This does not seem like an excuse, but it is. I could not see how bad my problem was. I could not see why I was doing it. I could not see what it was doing to myself and others. I did not understand the great power that had a hold of me. I did not understand what it was going to take to free myself. I could say that the devil tricked me and that I didn't know what I was doing, but that is bogus and a lie. I had been warned and are warned that my addictions would destroy me. I was not warned through an article in the paper or from a esteemed human behaviorist. I was warned through prophets of my Heavenly Father and thus directly from my Heavenly Father.
Selfishness. This was my problem and it did not affect anyone other than me. Once again this is an excuse and a lie. I didn't see, I didn't know, how this problem affected others. It wasn't until I saw first hand how my addiction destroyed my wonderful wife and how I had lost all trust and respect from her that I realized this wasn't just affecting me. I soon came to know it affected everyone I knew. My kids, my family, and friends. I wasn't the person I had pretended to be. They had all come to trust and love a person they really did not know.
No matter what my argument was I had to see it for what it was, an excuse. Excuses are for the rebellious and prideful; they are for those that reject the Savior. There was no excuse that would protect me from the destroying angel.
The wonderful truth is that I didn't need an excuse to escape from my addiction. I could escape by searching out my Savior and following him. I could find the help that I needed to overcome my weaknesses and become as little child, pure and full of love. As a recovering addict, I testify that it is possible to be free of our addictions and our excuses.
Hurrah for Israel!!!