And thus mercy . . . encircles them in the arms of safety. (Alma 34:16)
Learning how to be abstinent is like learning how to walk on a balance beam.
At first, you are very, very clumsy. You gain your balance for a moment, take a couple of shuffling steps, and then fall off. But because you have the humility, the willingness, to be less than perfect, you get back up and try again. You do it over and over, as many times as it takes to get it right. Eventually, even though you may still feel wobbly, you’re able to keep your balance.
Unlike the balance beam, however, balancing abstinence is not accomplished by physical improvement and prowess. You cannot practice your way to perfection. It is accomplished through spiritual means—unexplainable, often irrational means. As you practice abstinence, you pray for the Spirit of the Lord to take over your mind and heart and to remind you of exactly the right thought at exactly the right moment. Thus it is through God’s gift that you are able to maintain your balance and remain sure and steady on your path of abstinence.
It is important that we remember that unlike the gymnast . . You cannot find and keep your spiritual balance by walking the beam alone. Your Coach must always be there beside you. By yourself, you can never be sufficiently safe or sure to progress in recovery. Only if you allow Him to encircle you about in the arms of His love (D&C 6:20), and cling to Him (Jacob 6:5), will you be able to experience the gift of abstinence.
Spiritual balance is not a skill, it is a gift freely given by the only One who has never fallen—the Lord Jesus Christ.
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