Sharing my story publicly was terrifying. I mean, I know that the people that matter most to me already know the darkest parts of my past, and to be totally honest, a lot of people from my home town also knew the gist of what was going on (my mugshot on the internet kinda gave that one away). When I made the decision to change my life and go through the repentance process, I moved on from my past. As it says in Mosiah 27, I felt as if I had been born again. I truly felt like I had been changed from my carnal and fallen state. Alma said “Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God.” (Mosiah 27:28)
Let me give you a little background on my story in case you are new to my blog: I was a drug addict for the better part of nine years. I am not going to go into all the gory details of how severe my addiction was, and how many rehabs and detox centers I went through, because that would take all day. But I will say that using drugs provided an escape from my disaster of a life- that was ironically caused by the very thing that provided the escape. It was a vicious circle that felt like chains around my soul. Drug addiction can steal your agency and turn you into a totally different person. Thus why I had so much anxiety about sharing my story and publicly opening up about the horrible person I was for so many years. So many failed attempts at getting clean. So many dashed hopes and broken hearts of my family members.
For some reason, everytime I hear “the enabling power of the Atonement”, it solidifies my testimony just a bit more. I love that word enabling. Going through the repentance process was so hard. Not using drugs was hard. It was all I knew for so many years. Getting drugs, finding money for drugs, and using drugs was all my life consisted of. I knew deep inside that I wanted to go back to church. I knew that God was real, and that he loved me. As contrary as it may sound, I felt God’s love for me the most when I was at my lowest. He was the only thing that kept me going when I had nothing left. I had damaged every part of my life, and had no reason to hope that things could get better. When I finally got to the point that changing seemed easier then continuing my life as a drug addict, and I turned my will over to God, something changed for me. Little things kept happening that were constant reminders that he was aware of me. He hadn’t forgotten me despite all of the horrible things I had done. I was so weak and broken, and I felt his love for me stronger then ever. Now that I have my life back, and I can be confident in the person that I am, God requires more faith from me. He used to put things in my life that there was no denying that he was directing my path. Whether it be a random book mark found in a bible in my rehab, a quote that came passing by, or something just working out miraculously when it shouldn’t have. Now, he manifests himself differently in my life. I feel peace in my life on a regular basis now. It is a beautiful miracle that I never would have thought I could possess. I know that it is a direct result of living my life righteously.
I can see that the enabling power of the Atonement was instrumental in the beginning stages of rebuilding my life. The Atonement didn’t just change me. It enabled me to change myself. Achieving the seemingly impossible task of transforming every single aspect of my life. I had been to addiction treatment centers 10+ times to no avail. Giving me even more reason to believe that I was a failure and could not change. But for some reason I finally felt like I could keep going. Something was pushing me to keep moving forward when I just wanted to quit.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.”
If I were to have read that quote when I was in my darkest times, I’m not sure I would have believed it. I truly felt that I was damaged beyond repair. Now I read it and I am amazed at its accuracy.
It is taking a lot of courage (or perhaps, an enabling power that is not my own) to be open and honest about my past, and the horrible choices I made. I feel like I have moved on and I am a totally different person then I was at that time. In fact, when I talk about my past, it feels like I am telling someone else’s story. I’ve truly had to set my fear of judgement aside. As much as I feel like I am a completely different person, this is still my story. Changing my life was nothing short of a miracle and if I can use my story of redemption to give hope to one single person, it will be worth all the judgement I could ever receive. What if Alma the Younger was too embarrassed about his past, and decided not to share the gospel for fear of judgement? He was a prophet of God. His story has inspired and changed the lives of so many people.
Ashly is a wife, mother, and a lover of the outdoors. She is dedicated to shedding light on the issue of addiction, and using her story of redemption to give hope to those struggling. She loves the gospel of Jesus Christ, and hopes to inspire others with her story of how the Atonement healed her life.
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