The Pornography Monster

Alan posts:

Dr. Rick Moody
Cyber Secrets 2003
“For Ecclesiastical Leaders, Family and Friends: Supporting Those who Struggle with Sexual Compulsions”

Approximately seven years ago, my first client who presented with pornography struggles came into my office here at BYU. Because I did my graduate studies outside of Utah I never worked with clients who presented with pornography struggles. Once at BYU, a university with strong religious values, I felt unprepared to help this individual. I remember thinking to myself, “if he could just show a little self discipline maybe he could stop looking at it.” I also thought, “Isn’t this something he needed to talk to his bishop about instead of me?” I soon realized, however, that the client was working with his bishop and that his bishop specifically sent him to me to get additional help. I remember dreading our weekly visits because I wasn’t sure how to help him. To make matters worse, other people started showing up with similar struggles. I soon realized that this problem was not going away. The numbers of people needing help with this issue continued to increase at a rate that I never had imagined. I knew that I couldn’t search the mental health literature on the subject or attend a conference addressing this issue; because, in the field of psychology, accessing pornography on a regular basis is not considered a legitimate mental health issue.

I discovered that if I was going to be able to help these individuals, I would need to take some initiative to educate myself to develop treatment plans and rationale for interventions. I was also able to collaborate with other colleagues whom I have learned a great deal from. Over the years, my colleagues and I have worked with those who struggle with pornography, we have listened and learned from the very people who have come in for our help. In addition, we have listened and learned from ecclesiastical leaders and others who love and care about the welfare of individuals who suffer. As we are all aware, with the advent of the internet, sexual addictions and compulsions have inundated our society like a tidal wave, leaving in its wake a crippling effect upon the emotional and spiritual welfare of many souls, not to mention the destruction of many marriages and relationships.

As bishops, friends, family members, and spouses, you have a great desire to help and support those who struggle with pornography. You may not fully comprehend why pornography is such a desperate struggle for those you are trying to support. Naturally, you have competing thoughts as you walk the tightrope of showing empathy, patience, and love while also trying to balance your own negative feelings and adverse reactions. Understandably, these reactions may include expressing disdain for the offender’s actions, perhaps issuing out ultimatums, or pointing out to the offender that his behavior will certainly have adverse effects on his life and the lives of others. The struggling individual may even relinquish things of eternal importance like temple marriages, families, growth opportunities like fulltime missionary service, fulfilling meaningful callings, and educational and career opportunities. You may continue to pray and fast, you care, you plead, you weep, you become angry and frustrated. Yet, for some who battle with pornography issues, nothing you say or threaten them with seems to affect their behavior. You may tell yourselves over and over, “I don’t understand it; how can someone jeopardize all that is priceless and eternal to fulfill the basest of pleasures through the means of lifeless, touched-up, artificial computer images?

My response to you today is that you do not have to arrive at a logical understanding of this disorder in your mind. I say this because the problem is not only insidious—let’s face it pornography is everywhere. But it is also elusive—the struggle with pornography is likely a symptom of other underlying issues. To support those who struggle with pornography, making complete sense of this issue is not entirely necessary. A logical understanding of another’s problem is not a prerequisite for us to offer our support to those we care about. Instead, we can develop understanding from the heart which invites trust and eventually hope for lasting change.

In Proverbs it states: So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2)

Toward the beginning of his great sermon, King Benjamin instructs his people on how they may come to a true understanding of his words.

“And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand.” (Mosiah 2:9)

Also in Mosiah 12:27 it reads: “Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?”

My hope today is that I may say something that will enable us to come to a better understanding from the heart of those who are ensnared by one of the plagues of our day: pornography. For it is only with a more complete understanding, an understanding that includes the application of the heart, that we as ecclesiastical leaders, friends, parents, siblings, spouses are better able to experience the Christ-like love that is necessary to support those who struggle and begin the process of change.

As someone who earns a living from helping people more successfully navigate the waters of adversity and challenge I believe my efforts are rendered useless without the concurrent help of ecclesiastical leaders, family members, and friends. Ecclesiastical leaders offer guidance that is divinely inspired by the rights and powers that have been bestowed upon them as a “judge in Israel” when they were set apart for their calling. Family members and/or friends provide the essential unconditional support and love for those who suffer emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I believe it takes the resources of all of us to help those who suffer and help them experience lasting change. Following are some suggestions that may help us further in our efforts to support others.

The first way in which we can support those who struggle is to help reduce shame. Shame is the fuel that keeps the pornography struggle going. Pornography is like a drug that provides a momentary “high” that takes a person away from their pain. True, when “the high” is over the person comes crashing down, feels powerless and experiences more shame and eventually re-engages in the cycle again. Because of shame it seems impossible for many of the afflicted to reach out to others. Many mistakenly think that they can keep their burden a self contained secret and over time take care of their problem on their own, repent on their own, and move on with their lives, in hope of sparing themselves great shame and embarrassment. Many also find it difficult to reach out because of the fear that no one will understand them.

As church leaders and parents we need to assess how we handle the topic of sexuality. Because premarital sex is a violation of God’s laws we also may convey that sex is disgusting, dirty, and evil. We spend years preparing our youth for missions, temple marriage, living righteous lives and yet somehow we all too often ignore helping our youth navigate the waters of sexuality. Many of our youth and young adults are susceptible to feeling shame around their inherent sexuality which is part of the human experience. We need to convey that sexuality is a wonderful gift and is just as significant, if not more significant than other gifts that come from our Heavenly Father.

President Boyd K. Packer put it this way:

“This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power, and I repeat, my young fiends, that this power is good.” (Boyd K. Packer, “Why Stay Morally Clean,” Ensign, July 1972, 111)

Elder Jeffery R. Holland’s classic talk “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments” suggests that :

“Human intimacy, that sacred, physical union ordained of God for a married couple, deals with a symbol that demands special sanctity. Such an act of love between a man and a woman is—or certainly was ordained to be—a symbol of total union: union of their hearts, their hopes, their lives, their love, their family, their future, their everything. It is a symbol that we try to suggest in the temple with the word like “seal.” (BYU devotional address, 12 January 1988)

Church leaders and parents need to have an open dialogue with young people about sexuality. Young people should feel free to approach us without fear or shame when they have questions and experiences. Avoidance of discussing sexuality will give the message that sexuality is something that is shameful.

Shame can be further escalated by well meaning people. They feel that if they can point out the extreme examples of the consequences that can come from pornography use, the person will be motivated to changing.

In an effort to point out these extreme examples, some people use what I call the “cause and effect approach.” It is human nature to feel we are in control by living in a “cause and effect world.” When we experience or hear about one of the many ills acted out in our society, we search for “the cause.” If we can find the cause and eradicate it, we no longer have the problem. Unfortunately the world we live in isn’t that simple. I hear and read about how serial killers, rapists, child molesters have accessed pornography at some time in their lives. Many people attribute pornography as the cause of these deviant behaviors. Several individuals I have worked with who struggle have related experiences in which people tell them that if they don’t take care of their problem they will likely lose complete control and will eventually start sexually acting out indiscriminately with men, women, and children. If this were true the amount of sex crimes perpetrated in our community and the world in general would be constant given the amount of internet pornography sites continually being accessed. In the Deseret News, July 22nd, 2001, testimony before the state’s Information Technology Commission revealed:

“62% of users of the internet at any one time are on pornographic sites 100 new pornographic web sites are added every week pornography is the single highest grossing industry on the internet generates $5 to $6 billion in sales annually 30% of unsolicited emails contain pornographic information.”

The point is, the vast majority of people who access pornography do not turn into hardened criminals. Insinuating that they do, or eventually will criminally act out, only fuels the shame, leaves one feeling more alienated which escalates the unwanted sexual compulsions even further.

Another way that shame is perpetuated is when people constantly remind the individual the consequences of his behavior. They are told that their friends, family, marriages, and even their salvation is at stake. Every individual I have worked with is already well aware of the consequences and live with those consequences daily.

Fortunately godly sorrow is not synonymous with shame. Shame renders one feeling hopeless while godly sorrow provides the motivation for one to start the process of repentance.

Paul refers to godly sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.

9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Godly sorrow involves an understanding of the atonement and of the Savior’s love for us. Shame does not leave space in one’s experience for the love of the Savior.

The second point to consider is that for most individuals who struggle, pornography isn’t the only issue. Most of us have our favorite ways of avoiding the unpleasant inner experiences that show up in our lives. Negative emotions are part of everyone’s lives. When these emotions surface, many rely on our favorite methods of making us feel better instead of dealing with the negative emotion directly. For some of us, we may conveniently bump into the chocolate counter at the BYU Bookstore and go on a chocolate binge to bury vulnerable feelings. Some people work harder and longer hours to avoid a troubled marriage. Others may develop an eating disorder to gain some sense of control in a world they perceive as out of control. One of my favorite methods to avoid negative feelings, originated from my graduate school days. I call it “video therapy.” I love movies and at times will watch them to distract myself from excess anxiety and stress. A similar process operates for those who use pornography on a frequent basis. Many individuals I work with feel disconnected from people, particularly females, or are stressed out in school or with life decisions, or have family problems or marital problems. Many also have battles of depression and anxiety. Investigating the context that triggers the impulse to indulge in pornography can present other problem areas that may be very much related to the pornography problem. Bishops and others who are in a position of support may find it useful to investigate these problems that the individual may be avoiding through the use of pornography. For example, does pornography distract the person from having a real relationship? If so, what kind of plan can be established to help this person feel more connected to others? Is pornography utilized as a coping mechanism for anxiety and/or depression? What alternative plan could be implemented to deal with stress in a healthy manner?

Third, sexual impulses are part of being human and cannot be categorized as sin. Sexual thoughts and feelings show up in our everyday lives because we are sexual beings. I want to make it clear that sexual impulses are one thing; taking those impulses into fantasy or sexual compulsion is a much different thing. Temptation can come in the form of sexual impulses, therefore temptation cannot be avoided. Temptation is not sin. Even the Savior experienced temptation, even though we don’t have a complete picture of the nature of the temptations the Savior experienced.

D&C 20: 21 & 22 21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.

22 He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.

Hebrews 2:17,18 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Hebrews 4:14,15

14. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Unfortunately, most individuals we work with have grown up to believe that sexual impulses are sinful. Most of the individuals I work with professionally have obsessional qualities that exacerbate their pornography problem. That is, when sexual impulses show up in their experience they become anxious, may panic, and engage in avoidant behaviors. They have been told their entire lives to avoid “unclean” thoughts. Many people automatically assume that if they find a person sexually attractive they have already “crossed the line.” They then engage in avoidant behaviors as a way to purge anything sexual from their being. This is a battle that cannot be won because we are by our very nature, sexual beings.

Next point, avoidant behaviors are not the answer. “Running away” from sexual impulse is not the answer. We are frequently bombarded with sexual images through television, movies, the internet, billboards. Many young men and women have served missions in areas where pornographic images are commonplace in everyday life experiences. As a child I thought that pornography grew on trees. When I was seven or eight years old, I and a couple of friends were innocently engaged in a favorite boyhood activity, climbing a tree. We particularly enjoyed climbing one gigantic tree in our neighborhood. It was heavily foliated and was a fun place to hide. One day we ran into someone’s stash of pornographic magazines that were tucked away in the upper regions of the tree. Obviously the individuals who stashed these magazines found the tree a great place to hide as well. As I remember we made comments like, “gross! Naked ladies!” but nevertheless found the visual images to be somewhat intriguing even at a pre-pubescent young age. Certainly many of young men and women have innocently stumbled upon pornographic images, especially with the development of the internet. These images get lodged in our minds. For most there is a degree of appeal since we experience the innate urges of sexuality. Several well-meaning church leaders have provided advice which works very well for people who have had encounters with sexual stimuli at a superficial level which leads their thoughts to stray on occasion. The guidance we receive may include replacing the “unclean” thought with a favorite hymn or scripture, pray more often, attend the temple more often, serve others. The advice is to do all we can to keep oneself “pure.” For those with a superficial temptation this works well. For those who are deep in the struggle of pornography, which by the way, may have started rather innocently, this advice not only falls short but can make the issue more problematic.

It is well established in the psychological literature that thought suppression strategies demonstrate paradoxical effects. The problem is that many of the rules we use to “control” the problem contain the very content that we are trying to rid ourselves of. This phenomena is called “bidirectional stimulus relation.” For example when an “unclean thought” shows up, we may tell ourselves we must sing a favorite hymn to rid ourselves of the unclean thought. This becomes problematic to one who has pornography problems because this person has bombarded himself with hundreds, perhaps thousands of images that cannot be gotten rid of by singing a hymn. In fact, what commonly happens is that the hymn becomes paired with the sexual thought or image so that at a later time when that hymn is being sung in church, the sexual image shows up at times you least want it to, during times of worship.

This “running away” strategy to overcome the problem of pornography through avoidance is a set up for failure. Getting caught up in a tug of war game with the monster becomes all about overpowering the monster and not about living a purposeful, value-driven life.

Please allow me to share a metaphor:

“Engaging in avoidant behavior is like being in a tug-of-war with a monster. It is big, ugly, and very strong. In between you and the monster is a pit, and so far as you can tell it is bottomless. If you lose this tug-of-war, you will fall into this pit and will be destroyed. So you pull and pull, but the harder you pull, the harder the monster pulls, and you edge closer and closer to the pit. The hardest thing to see is that our job here is not to win the tug-of-war…Our job is to drop the rope.” (Hayes, et al, 1999, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New York : The Guilford Press).

I realize that “dropping the rope” isn’t going to make the monster go away. Many of the unpleasant monster-like things we experience in life tend to show up again and again. We don’t have to like it and we can be about the business of living without getting caught up in the battle. Many who struggle bring their lives to a screeching halt as they attempt to pull the monster of pornography into the bottomless pit. They then feel that if they can eliminate the problem completely they will become more acceptable human beings and can then get on with their lives. Sounds good, but it doesn’t work that way. This unrealistic “cease and desist” approach gives the pornography struggle too much power and is destructive rather than constructive. For example, many young men will say to themselves that they do not want to date or associate with a “daughter of God” as long as they have this problem with pornography. They deprive themselves of opportunities to make friends and form meaningful relationships with others. A meaningful connection with others is one of the most important resources one has to work with when trying to overcome this struggle. If one isolates from others until they ultimately “get control” of the problem, they may fill the void experienced through isolation with a porn binge. Most young men who choose to proceed ahead with establishing relationships report that during times when they feel emotionally connected to others, the frequency of pornographic incidents decreases dramatically.

So instead of running away, what other option is there? A person can “move toward.” Move toward what? Move toward whatever he has determined works or may work for him in his life. What I’m talking about is establishing values that give one a sense of purpose and motivation. Values create a sense of meaning and direction. “Dropping the rope” and moving forward takes introspection. It involves a person determining what he wants his life to stand for. It means taking a life direction. As an ecclesiastical leader, it may be useful to spend some time talking about what this person wants his life to stand for. It is necessary to help a person be very specific. Some of the areas I focus on with people I work with include:

  • Marriage/couple/intimate relationships
  • Family relations
  • Friendships/social relations
  • Career/employment
  • Education/personal growth and development
  • Recreation/leisure
  • Spirituality
  • Citizenship
  • Health/physical well-being

(Hayes, et al, 1999, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New York : The Guilford Press).

Let’s look at how one could go about this in the various roles we experience with relationships. As a bishop you could discuss and/or have the individual write down a description of the person he would like to be in a marriage. What type of relationship would he want to have? Have him focus on his role in the relationship. As a father, brother, son, have him describe the qualities he would want to have in those relationships. Have him describe how he would ideally treat other people in these various relationships. What kind of parent would he like to be? How would he handle conflict in the family? What types of activities would be important for him to engage in as a father and husband?

Setbacks are obviously going to surface as one moves in a valued direction. These setbacks include re-engagement in the pornography, feelings of intense cravings, depression and anxiety may appear to hinder one’s progress. These struggles may seem too overwhelming. This is where work with a professional therapist will likely be useful. However, a person needs to be careful who they seek out professionally. I would like to think that most mental health professionals have a willingness to understand the context a person is coming from in regard to their values and religious beliefs, and work with them according to that context. However, don’t necessarily plan on this being the case. Ecclesiastical leaders need to inquire about how the therapeutic work is going. After a release of information is signed you might find it useful to talk with the counselor and coordinate how you can support the struggling individual. Professionals can help a client examine the efficacy of the strategies they are using to overcome the problem. A professional can investigate how pornography is used to avoid other significant problems. These other problems become “grist for the therapeutic mill.” A therapist can work with an individual to alter his perceptions, how he perceives himself and others, and examine and adjust behavioral patterns that are not meeting his needs in a healthy manner.

It is most important that this individual remain engaged in a journey toward a valued direction. That valued journey will involve barriers. The journey and the barriers can happen simultaneously. It becomes unworkable if one stops the journey to try and completely control the impulses and challenges that come with pornography, and then resumes the journey. Consider the following metaphor:

“You are standing at the edge of the ocean. The tide sometimes moves in and the water almost is over your head. At other times, the tide is low, and your feet barely get wet. You don’t have any control over how high or low the water is at any point in time. Sometimes waves may come crashing in and knock you over. Other times the sea is calm. What you can do, however, is mark a point on the horizon, perhaps focus on a beacon of light in the distance and head that way. It may be that in places the water will get very deep, and at those times, it would be easy to lose your way if you were only paying attention to your immediate surroundings. But as long as you keep your eyes on that beacon of light, you can keep moving in the chosen direction, no matter how deep the water gets.” (Hayes, et al, 1999, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New York : The Guilford Press).

Values are represented by the beacon of light that we move toward. If we pay attention only to our immediate surroundings, which may include the sexual impulses, it is easy to stop progress. If, on the other hand, we notice these impulses are going to continue as we move in a valued direction, our life can start working for us.

A small personal illustration captures this concept. A few years ago I was involved with temple work when I had the sudden thought, “the temple is a place where I cannot experience Satan’s influence because it is the house of the Lord.” Well, guess what, just at that moment I had an inappropriate image show up in my mind. I began getting caught up with the struggle to purge the thought by reciting scriptures and singing hymns in my mind. No longer was I attending to the matters of temple work. I was caught up in finding the right hymn or the perfect scripture and through doing this the image was making itself more and more at home in my mind. It wasn’t until I took the stance of just observing myself having an inappropriate thought that I was able to give up the struggle. I said something to myself like “Isn’t it interesting that of all the places that I can have this thought, I am having it in the house of the Lord.” Once I was able to get to that place of observation, the struggle left and I was able to refocus and return to the matters at hand that brought me to the temple in the first place.

A vital part of “moving toward” requires the establishment of boundaries in one’s life. Bishops and others can help a person determine how boundaries can best be established in their own lives. These boundaries create a space for introspection, a place where one can reflect on what is meaningful and assess what needs to be done to move forward in a valued direction. All too often a person finds that unwanted habits are deeply entrenched in routines of life that become too difficult to overcome through willpower alone. Just as a recovering alcoholic wouldn’t choose to continue to socialize with his buddies at a bar, individuals who struggle with pornography need to make adjustments in their lives. For example, having a high speed internet system on a personal computer in an isolated area may leave one in a position of “white knuckling” it through impulses that will surely arise. Engaging in avoidant behaviors such as hymn singing, utilizing LDS temple screen savers, or looking at a CTR ring will get one caught up in the tug of war with the monster, which will eventually fail. Being in a state of panic is not a time where one can reflect upon the bigger picture. It only sets one up to engage in “knee jerk” response patterns.

Setting up a boundary which limits internet use to only public, high traffic areas, for example, may slow down the usual sequence of events and eliminate knee jerk reactions. When impulses to click into a pornographic website arise, one is better able with a boundary in place to enter that space of introspection and determine how to move in a direction that is congruent with one’s values.

However, it is important to point out that merely establishing boundaries without other methods of support, can become just another “gimmick” of engaging in avoidant behaviors. Canceling an internet subscription with the expectation that this by itself will make all the difference is a set up for failure. The internet can be accessed in many other places. One is not protected just because his own personal internet service is canceled. Maneuvers such as this can only be effective if used as a small piece of the overall, complex journey of recovery.

The fifth point is to help a person keep perspective. We all engage in spiritually distancing behaviors that likely interfere with what we value. As mere mortals we struggle with anger, jealousy, criticism, gossip, greed, and the list goes on and on. For many of us we make promises to God and family members that we will never do these things again, only to find that these behaviors rear their ugly head again and again. Do we view our challenges as missed opportunities for growth or do we view them as terrible, horrible mistakes that cannot ever be repeated again? Under which perception are we going to find greater likelihood of success? Missed opportunities for growth? or terrible mistakes that can never be repeated again? Pornography has a stigma which makes it difficult for us to look at it for what it is, spiritually distancing behavior.

My final point is that the journey to recovery is just that, a journey not necessarily some destination to be reached. We have become very outcome oriented in our society. Being in control, staying on track, achieving the goal are messages we frequently tell ourselves over and over. We long for the day to be able to proclaim, “I have arrived.” When we expect to experience change we want it now. It becomes demoralizing when we are told, “you’ve had this problem a long time, it will take a long time to overcome it.” As helpers for those who struggle with pornography, looking at recovery as a process, not an outcome to be reached, is what is most useful. Here at BYU and in the church as a whole people constantly monitor how well they are doing. We may compare ourselves with others, look forward to the day we arrive to a better state of existence than the one we are currently in. Consequently, well meaning life initiatives come to a screeching halt because one’s outcomes may not be delivered on the expected schedule. Moving in a direction that is consistent with one’s values does not require moment to moment monitoring of one’s progress. Many times the journey takes unexpected turns and we have to keep the faith that overall we are still on course. Let’s consider another metaphor:

“Suppose you are taking a hike in the mountains. You know how mountain trails are constructed, especially if the slopes are steep. They wind back and forth; often they have “switchbacks,” which make you literally walk back and forth, and sometimes a trail will even drop back to below a level you had reached earlier. If I asked you at a number of points on such a trail to evaluate how well you are accomplishing your goal of reaching the mountaintop, I would hear a different story every time. If you were in switchback mode, you would probably tell me that things weren’t going well, that you were never going to reach the top. If you were in a stretch of open territory where you could see the mountaintop and the path leading up to it, you would probably tell me things were going very well. Now imagine that we are across the valley with binoculars, looking at people hiking on this trail. If we were asked how they were doing, we would have a positive progress report every time. We would be able to see that the overall direction of the trail, not what it looks like at a given moment, is the key to progress. We would see that following this crazy, winding trail is exactly what leads to the top.” (Hayes, et al, 1999, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, New York : The Guilford Press).

Elder M. Russell Ballard compared our life’s journey to that of the pioneers.

“Life isn’t always easy. At some point in our journey we may feel much as the pioneers did as they crossed Iowa—up to our knees in mud, forced to bury some of our dreams along the way. We all face rocky ridges, with the wind in our face and winter coming on too soon. Sometimes it seems as though there is no end to the dust that stings our eyes and clouds our vision. Sharp edges of despair and discouragement jut out of the terrain to slow our passage. Always, there is a Devil’s Gate, which will swing wide open to lure us in. Those who are wise and faithful will steer a course as far from such temptation as possible, while others—sometimes those who are nearest and dearest to us—succumb to the attraction of ease, comfort, convenience, and rest. Occasionally we reach the top of one summit in life, as the pioneers did, only to see more mountain peaks ahead, higher and more challenging than the one we have just traversed. Tapping unseen reservoirs of faith and endurance, we, as did our forebears, inch ever forward toward that day when our voices can join with those of all pioneers who have endured in faith, singing: “All is well! All is well!” (Hymns, no. 30).  M. Russell Ballard, “You Have Nothing to Fear from the Journey,” Ensign,May 1997, 59

C.S. Lewis said,

“No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are already, the towels put out, the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose ones temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence.” (CS Lewis, as quoted in Glaspey, Not a Tame Lion, p. 189.

Most importantly, those who are in a role of support need to emphasize that man cannot embark upon the journey without the help of He who makes the ultimate destination of eternal life possible. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ all efforts to bring about change for ourselves and others is for nothing. The Savior of mankind is the only one who completely understands our suffering and is the only one who is in the position to make change last forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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