By Michael H
My father was an alcoholic. His mother was an alcoholic. When my father drank, he was an angry drunk, and the more he drank the angrier he became. His anger manifested itself through fighting. As a teenager he fought while drunk. As an adult, I witnessed him initiate a fist fight with a neighbor over the placement of a garbage can in the alley behind our house. He fought on the sports field, the basketball court, at work and at home. He medicated his pains with alcohol. Eventually he would succumb to more vices such as gambling, pornography, and other sexual addictions. He was enslaved by his addictions. Some from my high school would witness my father’s lewd public behavior and intoxicated conduct. My initial embarrassment gave way to detachment, then disappointment, and slowly to sadness for my father.
Teachings about Christ changed my life. I learned about the atonement, the triumph of Jesus over sin and death. The atonement means far more to us than just being forgiven of our sins and living again after we die. The scriptures teach how He took upon Himself our sufferings, pains, afflictions, sicknesses and temptations of every kind. Can you imagine? Jesus knows exactly how we feel. He suffered for all the pains we’d ever feel. He personally knows our trials and addictions.
There was a time when I was able to serve my local congregation by ensuring their well being, safety and happiness. They would come to me with their struggles and ask, “Can I really ever be free from my addiction?” My answer was always “Yes”! My Church provides an addiction recovery program based on Christ’s atonement. I attended meetings with those seeking help and regularly witnessed the moments they realized healing was possible. Most addicts white knuckle their way through life, relying solely on their own will power to overcome temptation. I witnessed my friends for the first time in their lives take a deep breath and let go of their past. They began to change, they learned to cast their burden at the feet of the Savior and gain freedom from addiction. Miracles occurred in their lives.
For years, I shared these principles of life without addiction with my father. I invited him to join me at group meetings. He never accepted my invitation; his denial was profound. I wasn’t discouraged, because many others did accept my invitation. I witnessed powerful, positive and permanent change. By applying the atonement step-by-step, my friends began to live the life I had always hoped for my father.
I am in awe of the Savior’s love for us. Through His love and atonement there is a way possible for us all to live a life free from addiction. If you suffer from any addiction, I invite you to find the freedom you seek. I know as you accept the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ you can live free from addiction. It is the life you always dreamed possible.