Monday, May 13, 2013

Listen to the still small voice! Listen. Listen.

In 12-step programs there are often promises associated with working the steps.  Families Anonymous is a group that helps those who have addicted loved ones. While the better-known Al-Anon is for those whose loved ones are alcoholics, Families Anonymous is for anyone who has a loved one with any chemical addiction.

And true to the tradition, there are promises in Families Anonymous. The promises are the result in the lives of many people who work the steps. One of them is this:

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
I was thinking about this promise recently. In a lesson someone mentioned this verse from the Doctrine & Covenants:
For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
The revelation to Joseph is an echo of this counsel from the Lord to the ancient apostles: 

But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
None of these admonitions is a suggestion that we should not prepare for difficult circumstances. They are, instead, admonitions that if we prepare, the Lord will provide us with what we need when we need it.

The scriptural references are for those called to do difficult things: to preach the gospel, sometimes in adverse circumstances. And the Lord promises that when His servants are on His errand, He will bless them with the right words to say.

Perhaps you’ve seen that in action: a sacrament meeting speaker who delivers a talk that seems out of his or her natural ability, a missionary who teaches with a particular strength of testimony beyond his years, a Relief Society president who knows what comfort to offer a young sister when she needs it the most.

The Families Anonymous promise, though not scriptural, suggests the same blessing is available in our personal lives. As we work the 12 steps (which are really a path to applying the atonement in our lives), we become more in tune with spiritual things. (Most workers of 12-step programs will refer to them as spiritual journeys.) And it makes sense as we open our hearts to the spirit, we will be more receptive. And the spirit will help us to know instinctively how to do things we could not do before.

As a parent, I relish inviting the spirit to help me learn how to be better. The work I have as parent – to teach the gospel to the most important audience I will ever face – is daunting to me, and I have regularly felt myself unequal to the task. But I am buoyed by the Lord’s promise to help me. And I have seen that help at work in my own home. I have had flashes of inspiration, of instinctively knowing what to say (or how to say it), of having words given to me in the very moment that I need them.

Not that I always listen. But I’m getting better at that. I’m open to the possibility that I don’t have all the answers (that lesson took surprisingly long on my parenting journey). And I recognize that I need to be quiet enough to hear the still small voice. When I can stop and ask, “What wouldst Thou have me do?” I can feel the promptings that will help me.

It’s good to know I’m not alone as a parent. Good for me, and good for my kids.


  1. The essence of 12 step programs seems to be, "preach nothing but repentance unto this generation"

    I just sometimes forget that synonyms for repentance are healing, relief, power and strength.

  2. You are right, Rich, on two counts. The 12 Steps are all about turning to God (named Higher Power in many versions of the steps). And repentance is a really positive process, not just a painful curative.