Addictions, the Atonement and My Testimony of Jesus Christ

So at 3:23 am this morning, I am awakened to an overwhelming feeling of the Spirit. I am told I need to write about my thoughts and feelings, so here I am. 

There is always REAL HOPE because of what Jesus did for us. There is ALWAYS HOPE because of the great plan that was chosen in Heaven. The Atonement is what gives us hope. Christ suffered for ALL of us, even those of us that have defined ourselves as addicts. Do you know an addict? My friend, Jennifer recently defined an addict in recovery as someone who has been willing to admit the sewers of their mind and heart who desires for something better.

Addicts are not sentenced to endless misery and wo because of what Jesus Christ has done for ALL OF US. They are not forsaken OR FORGOTTEN by their creator. They are not worthless beings as Satan would have them believe. They are our brothers and our sisters. They are cherished, beloved sons and daughters of the Most High God. Yes, they have made some choices that led them to chains. But there is ALWAYS HOPE. ALWAYS. None of us are perfect, except for our Savior Jesus Christ. Here is a video of Him suffering in Gethsemane as He paid the price for the sins of all mankind.

I am totally putting this out there. I haven't ever discussed this openly for years and years... (Except you, Becky and maybe one or two others.) Please know, the ONLY reason why I am putting this out there is because I believe it may help someone out there. I have been commanded this night to write these thoughts and feelings AND PUBLISH THEM. This is a very personal story of my testimony of the atonement. Please forgive grammatical errors and the link as it is the wee hours of the morning...

Here is only one story in millions and then some of how the Atonement has worked and continues to work.

At the tender age of just turning 15, I began to experiment with drugs. I remember thinking the first time how harmless it was. Even the second time, and the third. I don't remember thinking much after that because looking back, I believe I was already hooked. I wasn't thinking much at all at that point. I remember my dear, sweet mother asking me if I was doing drugs and I responded with the question, "Do you really think I am that stupid?" Of course she didn't and the fear was pushed aside. Who would ever want to believe their daughter was doing such things? She was a true and faithful mother as she prayed for me along with other members of my family, including my dear grandma. 

Within 9 months, I was placed in a drug rehabilitation center where I lived for 89 days. I turned 16 there. I had cleaned up my act, or so I thought. It took two days out for me to relapse. My intentions were true, just. I wanted to stop. However, as soon as the temptation and possibility was there for the taking, I couldn't resist. 

I then dropped out of high school and moved in with a girl my brother had been dating before his mission. I lived in SLC and it only took me a month and a half before I was arrested for doing drugs. When my mom came to pick me up, she told me in front of the judge how uncontrollable my actions had become. She requested that I stay in the care of the state because she could no longer take care of me in the way I needed. Now, being a mother myself I can only begin to understand how incredibly difficult that must have been for her. However, I know it really was the best thing for me. I am so grateful. I was able to get clean for a few days and had time to think about my life and my actions. I was there for 6 days in the youth detention center.

I won't go in to all the other gory details. The details I have shared thus far are simply to demonstrate to you, my addiction was quite serious. I was addicted to drugs. All drugs. Any drugs. Anything I could get my hands on. I did a lot of bad things along the way while I was doing them. A lot of bad things happened to me along the way. I suffered and witnessed so much. I was absolutely in the chains of Satan on many levels. He had me and we both knew it. 

I moved to Idaho and there had unlimited resources to drugs. I fell hard into the hands of one of the most addictive and destructive substances known. I was a lost cause, or was I? I will tell you, I BELIEVED I WAS. I THOUGHT I WAS SO WORTHLESS, I WAS NO GOOD. NO GOOD. That was the lie I was being fed. Sadly, I was eating up every bit of it. 

I pulled out a notebook and decided to make a pros and cons list for staying alive. I mean, why should I suffer any more? The list to discontinue my life was long. The list to stay alive had one reason. The reason was I believed I may have kids that were supposed to be born. I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR SATURDAY'S WARRIOR, the movie. That belief that I might have children on the other side is what kept me alive. Next, I got on my knees and prayed. It went something like this... "God, if there is a God. Can you hear me? Should I live? Can you help me?" I will tell you, I didn't see angels or anything like that. I know they were there now looking back on it. The next morning, I called my mother and was back in Utah within a few hours. I love having lots of amazing cousins who are willing to drop everything to help a girl out.

After living in Utah for a short time, I disappeared into the drug scene. No one saw me for a while. It's an unfathomable blessing to me that I was given the world's best grandmother. She loves her Heavenly Father and her brother, Jesus Christ so much. She is so much like them. She knows their voice and follows their guidance. She was prompted to take me along on a trip to NY that she'd been planning with my sister, Mandy and my mother. Miracles happened to get me there; many great and wonderful miracles. I will never forget the feelings that welled up inside of me as I walked around the grounds of the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York. Something inside of me changed. I KNEW that I couldn't deny the true and living God anymore.

It was about a month before my 18th birthday. I was hiding out, avoiding calls from "friends." I knew I couldn't do that much longer. However, I wanted more than anything to stay clean. Through a series of events, I moved with a family friend to NYC. A week before my 18th birthday, I jumped on a grey hound bus with $38 in my pocket and a suitcase of my belongings. It was 4 days before I arrived at Port Authority in NYC. Again, there were many great and wonderful miracles to get me there safely. Someone might read this and think that it is weird that I moved to NYC to get away from drugs, but I wasn't out looking for them. I needed to get away from judging stares and negative influencing 'friends.'

My first experience in NYC at my little branch was to attend Relief Society. Since I was from Utah, they thought it would be neat if I taught Relief Society the next week as an 18 year old. They sure didn't know what I'd been through, but Heavenly Father did. He had a lot of faith in me. So, my first experience as an 18 year old was to teach Relief Society!! I hadn't been to Church since I was 15. I felt so terribly inadequate. I am so grateful for that experience because I studied my guts out in preparation and it triggered a desire to read the Book of Mormon. 

The topic of my class? Spiritual Gifts. I will never forget the many things the spirit taught me as the class was prepared and delivered. I learned I have value irregardless of what I'd done. I learned that my Father in Heaven was willing to forgive me. ME!!! I learned that He blesses His children with gifts of the spirit. That means gifts you couldn't necessarily see. I wasn't good at art, singing, fashion, etc. so this was very IMPORTANT to ME. I felt I might actually have worth. Spiritual gifts is a very dear topic to my heart. BTW, we all have worth because of who we are. We are literal spiritual offspring of God, the Eternal Father. We are His sons and daughters.

While living in NYC, my grandma sent me a book called, "Feelings Buried Alive Never Die" by Karol Truman. I studied it and I believe it helped me greatly. The things that helped me in the book at that time were the information about the power of thoughts and intention. I highlighted it up quite a bit. I have recently gotten to know this amazing woman. She is speaking at the upcoming Energy Healing Conference I am organizing. You can learn more about that HERE. I also read the Book of Mormon for about 3 hours everyday, an hour each way to and fro on the Subway and also on my lunch break. I attended the Singles Branch there. It was good. Most of my friends were from South and Central America. That was a fun thing too. They helped me so much.

While reading the Book of Mormon, I remember it was good stuff and I enjoyed reading it. However, when I read this scripture for the first time those many years ago in NYC, it felt like the scripture jumped off the page. Here it is:  

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

Doesn't that sound like addiction to you?

 22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.

Chains...  Anyone who has had an addiction or who has an addiction can relate to that word.

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

It doesn't have to be endless torment if we repent and come unto Christ. I testify that He has already paid the price. You won't have to and the guilt and endless torment can be lifted. It is powerful and it is real.

 24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
 25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!
 26 Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!

After about 5 months, I missed home so much and decided I was strong enough to resist so I went home. I was clean for about two months. I began dating my crush from the 5th grade. OH BOY. CASEY WARD, people!!!! He won my heart, in a million ways. I was becoming subject to Satan's grasp again and didn't realize it UNTIL the day I found out I was pregnant.

That was a game changer for me. I was still tempted, but never gave in. Not once. I loved that baby immediately. I am not saying "If you want to get off drugs, go get pregnant." Sheesh. That is not what I am saying. Believe me. It just happened to be that it was then I knew WITHOUT A DOUBT, that I could be forgiven and God would still love and forgive me. I knew there was HOPE. I had a now or never moment for myself. I have been clean from drugs for 16 years, last week, come to think of it. They say the chances of those addicted to meth have a 1 out of 100 chance in ever truly getting clean. That's 1%!  Not much hope. HUH? With Jesus, you can beat ALL ODDS. You have all the HOPE you need.

I am a different person because Jesus Christ suffered and ransomed Himself for me. I am forever full of gratitude for my brother, Jesus who loved me enough to pay for my sins. I am thankful our Father was willing to allow Him to come and be the ransom for me. Because of this, I can be made free. Free from addiction, free from guilt and free from Satan's grasp. 

Thank you for partaking of my story on how Jesus changed me. He can change anyone if he can take the shriveled, weak and hopeless person I had become and turn me into the woman I am today. I am grateful for who I am. I am not perfect. I have my many flaws and still am very dependent on my Savior. We are all beggers at the feet of Jesus. Without the atonement, none of us would be saved. I am so grateful for the plan that was laid out in Heaven. It will always be worth fighting for. You are worth fighting for.

Watch this short video about addiction. It has stirred great feelings in my soul.  

A friend told me that it sounded like the story ended abruptly there. I don't want this to be about me. I want this post to be about my Savior. However, I will add a couple quick notes about my life now. I am married to the man of my life, Casey Ward. Casey Ward!!!  I am so blessed that one year after we were married, we were able to take our little Kylee and be sealed in the Logan Temple for time and all eternity. We now have (almost 8) beautiful children. We strive to do the best we can to serve our Heavenly Father. I believe my experiences, as rough as they may have been for my family and myself, have formed me into who I am today. 

I am thankful we have the many tools on the earth today to give us strength to overcome challenges and trials, even if they are from our own making. We can break the powerful grasp of addiction, but not by ourselves. We can do all things in Christ who strengthens us.

If someone you love is suffering with addiction, please pray for them many times throughout the day. GOD HEARS EVERY WORD. THERE IS MUCH POWER IN PRAYER. They are not redundant. They are going straight to the Father of us all. Your loved one can be greatly helped, simply by your prayers. There is hope and real healing can happen. For me, it took years. I am grateful my loved ones prayed for me. 

If you yourself are addicted to something whether substance or behavior, don't give up on yourself. Don't listen to the lies of the adversary. Satan is cunning and his ways are getting more clever. Yet, God is matchless in His power and the power of the atonement is strong enough to overcome any addiction. You can get the help you need from Jesus.

There is now in place a 12 step recovery program headed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It is essentially the 12 step program WITH THE ATONEMENT. It is changing lives all over the world. Learn more HERE.

Come to this conference to hear from Karol Truman, author of 'Feelings Buried Alive Never Die' and many others who can teach you from a Christian perspective about energy work. This is one of the most important events I have ever hosted. I hope you will consider joining me.


Marni Hall said...

Bless you for your courage, to move on and also to share. I've never experienced that, so it's a gift to understand that better. Hugs!

Linda Robbins said...

Tammy, You are an angel! This is a message that I am also personally invested in and passionate about. Thank you for having the courage to speak boldly, and for sharing the intimate details of your experience....and especially of your heart! Love, Linda

Jennifer Lamprey said...

This is so powerful! I think you are a powerhouse for change. I hope you step into this somehow because this story is what will change hearts. I can only imagine the work your already doing. My heart is deeply touched and as one that has worked with many addicts over the years there is some of the greatest power to change that come from the lips of those that have had some of the most intense addictions and have come out of them with the Savior. You are that 1% and so there aren't many of you. Thank you for you courage and following the spirit

Lisa Jackson said...

You are amazing, Tammy. Thank you. I know why satan worked hard on you. He is so afraid of you. Kick his butt, Tammy! You rock!

Lisa Jackson said...

Tammy, Satan is really afraid of you. He worked hard on you, didn't he? He said, this lady, we have to focus a ton of our efforts on her. We cannot let her be free of us. With Heavenly Father and on His Team, she will be too much of a good influence on way too many people. We cannot let that happen. That is what I am sure he said, long ago.

SallyB said...

I'm so grateful and proud of you for sharing your story. We don't talk about addiction nearly often enough in the church. It chews people up and spits them out. We should be crying the 12 steps and the Atonement from the rooftops, because "don't do it" won't save everybody. We need to know how to support our loved ones who succumb. We need to know the signs, should they ever manifest in ourselves. So glad you are well and healthy today. You have amazing things yet to do!!!

mandyjanedesigns said...

That was so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Jennie Byers said...

I am so grateful my friend Katy shared this on Facebook today. It seems like every time I start to get discouraged about my son's 11 year long addiction, God sends me a little ray of hope and tells me to keep hanging on. Thank you for so beautifully sharing your story!

Mind Body and Sole said...

Alcohol? Drugs? Sex? Addictions? As far as the Savior is concerned, it never happened. :) (Don't you love the Atonement.)

wildblue said...

Love you. You are so amazing.