Monday, March 3, 2008

Life Changes -- [Personal Confessions]

I am listening to the secret [again]. And I gotta tell you, regardless of whether or not the "Law of Attraction" is a bunch of crap; I think it's a pretty darn good way to live your life.

I’ve got to admit I went through a really negative phase recently. I was doing horrible in school, horrible at work, not good in my own social life, etc... It's mostly because after a while of living the secret, I sort of gave up on it. I turned my back on the law of attraction, and sort of went the other direction. I'm not really sure why, but I just did.

My whole life has been kind of a roller coaster lately. I'm not gonna lie. I've gone through a lot of crap for the past while, and it all just kind of caught up with me recently. I lost all hope in my abilities, talents, future, attitude, etc... My negative attitude affected every aspect of my life, and it caused a lot of pain in my life. I started reverting to my old habits of negativity, my old irresponsible ways of procrastination and neglect of the things I knew I should be doing, and the total neglect of the spiritual needs in my life as well. On top of that, I began reverting to addictive behaviors, namely playing video games. Games were my way of forgetting the pain, and placing my focus on something that had NOTHING to do with my "screwed up" life. I had allowed myself to become lazy, irresponsible, and most destructive, virtually spiritually dead.

I began neglecting my scripture study, and even my prayers. My relationship with God began to falter, and I felt horrible about it. I was always telling myself I needed to straighten my life out again, but I never found the motivation to do so.

I will publicly admit I am an addict. I usually can play video games, and have no addictive effects, I used to be able to have a "take em' or leave em'" type attitude, but ever since I felt like my life was not going the way I wanted it to, I had resorted to video games as my pain reliever. They became really addictive, even to the point where I was neglecting school, work, friends, my girlfriend, church, and my family. It was starting to get out of control.

I knew very well that I had sunken to a level I had never been at before. I was at the lowest point of my life, and I had no one to blame but myself. I have always loved playing video games; I have never been willing to admit that they are harmful. Though I don't think they're harmful, I absolutely believe that they are addictive, and when they become addictive, THEN, they ARE harmful.

The problem wasn't totally the video games though. I had just become lax in all the areas of my life. I didn't like how I felt about my life, about myself, about God, about my testimony, etc... I just didn't like how I felt.

All of these feelings were over-running my life, up until my wonderful girlfriend Janae, (who has stuck with me through all of this, which in-and-of-itself is unbelievable to me) had the courage, and inspiration to take action.

My relationship with Janae had been struggling for a few weeks. My attitude, and motivation was at its low point, and she had had enough. After a big fight, we almost ended up breaking up with each other on a Sunday night. We ended up deciding we would work through this for a little while, to see what happened. At this point, I had the desire to change, but I hadn't really been struck with the humility and motivation to truly make the sacrifices that were required for me to make a true change in my life.

That was until Janae decided to write me a letter about the reasons she was frustrated with our relationship right now. The letter was blunt, to the point, and extremely hard for me to hear. The first time I read it, I immediately became defensive, even angry that she would say some of the things she did. I felt like she was attacking me, and trying to make me feel like less of a person for my weaknesses. Gosh, I look back at the way I reacted, and it makes me want to throw up. It only took me about 3 hours of pondering over the things she said for me to recognize that not only was the letter 100% true, but that the only reason I was being defensive was because I had allowed Satan to take complete control over my reaction. I felt so much darkness in my mind when I read it the first time. I realized how foolish I had been, and how blind I had become. Satan was fighting so hard for me to misunderstand the letter because he knew what it would mean to me after I made the realizations I finally came to. The letter was awesome, but even more than the letter, was the recognition that I had become something I am not.

I realized that my life is NOT going the way I want it to go. I realized that I am not acting the way I believe I should be, and I realized that I'm not being a good son, brother, boyfriend, friend, or even citizen. I recognized that I had been completely unwilling to make any real sacrifice for God in order to change my life.

I am not exaggerating when I say, the very moment I made this realization, my mind was clear. The darkness was gone, and it was filled only with light. The spirit was testifying to me that NOW is the time for me to change. For the first time in my life, I was willing to put all my own selfish desires aside. I no longer cared that I really enjoyed playing video games, I no longer cared that school is hard, I no longer cared, that it would require some work to get back to where I want to be, all of it was of no consequence. I felt for the first time since my mission that I was willing to do ANYTHING to be forgiven for the way I've acted for the past year or so. Without even thinking twice, I cancelled my World of Warcraft account so I couldn't play it anymore, and I decided I was going to box up my Xbox. This might seem like something that isn't really that big of a deal to most of you. In fact, you're probably telling yourself, "So what? That's not really a sacrifice." You will not understand until you have really been addicted to something in your lifetime. Especially seeing as the only time I've ever given up playing video games was during my mission for 2 years. This ONE thing was the sacrifice God has been asking me to make all along. I had justified for years that it's not that big of a deal, I'm not addicted, blah blah blah, etc... I had never been humble enough to accept his will instead of mine. But this change of heart was instant. I had made a promise to God that I would not play another video game until I felt like my life was in order, and I was back on track to living the way I know I need to.

I have been clean since the 26th. ;) I have had my times of temptation. I've had the times where I'm not really doing anything, and I get a really big urge to play video games, but for the most part, it hasn't been hard. I've been trying to fill my time with wholesome and constructive activities. I've tried spending more times with those I love; I've been trying to read good books, and to learn things I didn't know.

I know it's only been like a week. But hey, it's a start. I can honestly say that the spirit has been stronger in my life than it has been since my mission. I have made the necessary sacrifice in order for me to receive the necessary blessings to turn my life around.

Will I ever play a video game again? Definitely; I don't feel that this is a long term requirement from the Lord. I feel that it is most definitely necessary right now however. Until I can feel like my life is back on track, where I can feel worthy to go to the temple often, read my scriptures daily, etc etc... I will not indulge. Regardless of how good I feel, this will be at least a few months. I’m not just going to do this for a couple weeks. I’m talking months here, so don’t worry, I’m committed. I’m not making an excuse to just revert back to my old behavior.

I have a much better understanding about the importance of "moderation in all things".

I am very excited about the changes I'm making in my life, and I'm very excited about the feelings I'm having about my life. I feel like I'm progressing for the first time in a long time. I am moving forward, and it feels really good.

I love the Lord with all my heart, I'm so grateful for the lessons he teaches us, even when it takes us a long time to be willing to learn them. I'm just really grateful to have the knowledge I have about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm really grateful that I have family and friends, and a girlfriend who support me as much as they do! They have been such a strong support for me, and I am so indebted to them. I got the first father's blessing I've had for a very long time yesterday on fast Sunday. It was a great help, and will continue to be a huge strength to me.

I wanted to just tell you guys about the things that are going on in my life right now. I feel like the more people that know about it, the more people I'm accountable to. This is good. Accountability is really the key to success.

This time is for real. This time I am determined to change, and even though I might slip up every now and again, I truly FEEL the change in my heart this time, and I know it's for real.

So, if you guys want to receive blessings beyond measure in your life. I am bearing testimony to you now, that you should think about the thing you do that wastes a huge amount of your time, that isn’t constructive, and then sacrifice it. Just determine to give it up for a month. If you do this, I guarantee you will see a change in your life you’ve never thought possible. God recognizes sacrifice, and he is willing to pour out blessings for any of this children that give something up for him.

Best of luck! If you choose to do this, I’d sure LOVE to hear your stories and successes with this!

7 comments:

Janae said...

My love,

You are amazing, and I am so excited for this change.

You're great, and you can be greater. :) and I'm glad you know that now.

I love you,
Janae

Bri!!! said...

Tanner,

AMAZING!!! I am very proud of you and I'm so grateful you wrote it down. Priceless. Keep up the posts of how life is going and the things that are happening. I am excited for you and I will love Janae forever for writing you that letter.

Love,

Bri

Stacy said...

Fantastic...positive change is the greatest thing...and YOU are great.
Love you,
Stacy

Aric Johnstone said...

Wow. Tanner I love you like a Brother. I'm excited to have the old Tanner back. The recent Tanner was still fun, but I adore the old/new Tanner more. I am really proud of you.

J R Phillips said...

Hey cuz...you're amazing...never ever forget who God made you to be and how beautiful and wonderful that person is...YOU!! I love ya and am so glad we're family!! Keep on keeping on, yo...one day at a time! XXOO

Jamie Gardner said...

Awesome! Thank you!
Jamie Gardner

Allie said...

Tanner, you are amazing. Your vulnerability in writing your true feelings is so incredible. I am proud of you and your desire to overcome this trial. Love, Allie