“Lower Lights” | An Inspiring Anthem for LDS Porn Addicts

to overcome addiction, LDS porn addicts need the Beacon of Hope (Christ) and the lower lights (recovering addicts)

Fire Island Lighthouse with one of its “lower lights”

If you haven’t heard “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy,” sung by a men’s choir in the Conference Center, I encourage you to get on YouTube and listen to it. Get out the green hymnbook to follow along and while you do, ask yourself how this song applies to addiction and more importantly addiction recovery in the LDS Church.

For convenience, here are the words:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled, loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing, for the lights, along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother, some poor sailor tempest tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor, in the darkness may be lost.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman you may rescue, you may save.

Beautiful hymn. Touches my heart. Haunts and inspires me. It makes me want to go to work and save some poor fainting, struggling seamen.

Montauk Point Lighthouse with outbuilding

Montauk Point Lighthouse, New York*

Here’s my take on the hymn. Heavenly Father has set up the beacon and in my view, that Beacon is Jesus Christ. He is the Standard. He is the Lighthouse to which we all must look for salvation. Many of us have made our way to shore and have settled in a community at the foot of the Lighthouse on the hill. We bask in the light of the Savior.

LDS porn addicts need help bringing their ships safely into the port.

LDS porn addicts need help bringing their ships safely into the port.

Addicts outside recovery (I was one of them), however, are like sailors out on the rough seas–their addiction tosses them about on angry waves. They are powerless against the storm. They know that salvation comes through Christ. They can see the Beacon on the hill. They know that’s where safety lies. They are trying to get there but every time they point their ship in the direction of the Beacon, they run aground on rocks or get caught in a whirlpool or suffer some other calamity. The addicts cannot figure out how to make it to shore. They try and fail and try and fail again.

For Latter-day Saints, a lighthouse can be symbolic of the Lord Jesus Christ. The "lower lights" are his disciples.

Point Loma Lighthouse, San Diego, California

Do you want to know what the loneliest, saddest feeling in this world is? It is seeing the Light of Christ, knowing that the Christ is our Savior, that He atoned for our sins and took upon Himself our infirmities–knowing all of that deeply and intimately–and then not being able to lay hold of it because addiction without recovery does not allow the addict to forsake the sins, a condition necessary for repentance.

Some suggest that addicts just don’t feel and believe in the Atonement as much other members of the Church. They seem to believe that we addicts have lost faith in the Savior, that we no longer believe that He can heal us. They preach at us to just believe in Jesus–really believe–really, really believe–and our problem will go away.

I want the whole world to know that LDS addicts believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We believe in it as only the truly sick and afflicted can. Like no one else, we long to cast our burden on the Lord. I have never met an LDS addict, whether in recovery or not, who does not believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and who cannot bear testimony of it with tears in his eyes.

Pieter Mulier | A Ship Wrecked in a Storm off a Rocky Coast

Without help from the “lower lights,” a ship can run aground even with a lighthouse in plain sight.

Believing in the Atonement is not the issue and I wish people would stop going on about it as if it were! As I said, the problem is that the addicts cannot figure out how to get their boats to the shore! They try and try and people keep preaching at them to “Keep looking at the Lighthouse! Just keep looking at the Lighthouse!” And then they crash on the rocks and drown again.

The point of the hymn is that there are two sets of lights: the Lighthouse on the hill and the lower lights down in the village along the shore. The sailors need both sets of lights. The Lighthouse brings them in and the lower lights help them navigate to safe harbor as they near the shore.

The lighthouse is the Christ; LDS addicts in recovery are the "lower lights."

Often LDS porn addicts can’t see the shore even though they can see the Lighthouse.

In my view, those lower lights burn in the homes and hearts of LDS addicts in recovery. It isn’t by chance that the lower lights are where they are. The LDS addicts in recovery have built their spiritual homes in the places that will provide the most assistance to the sailors who are still out there, struggling and drowning. Those of us who have found recovery from addiction have also discovered a surprising but natural corollary: If we want to keep the miraculous recovery that Heavenly Father has given us through His Son Jesus Christ, we must give it away to others. Isn’t that interesting? To keep it, we have to give it away!

When an LDS woman asks me how she can know if her husband is really in recovery from his pornography addiction, I sometimes reply with a question: Is he trying to help other addicts find their way to shore? That’s how she can know.

The relief of the addict who has finally made it to shore.

Staggering to shore, headed towards the Lighthouse. An LDS porn addict uses the lower lights to survive the storm and make it to dry land.

I especially love the last verse of the hymn. I feel like it’s about me. I have a feeble lamp, that’s for sure. But Heavenly Father has made that lamp sufficiently bright for other struggling seamen to see my lower light well below the Beacon that is Jesus Christ, and make their way to shore. I think there may be no better feeling in this life than to see that worn-out sailor stagger out of the surf and collapse in the sand, sobbing because he knows he never has to go out into the storm again. The lower lights below the Beacon of Christ brought him home.

When I was a teenager and preparing for my mission, I remember reading and being so moved by the eighteenth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, fifteenth verse: “If…you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father.” At that time, I had no way of knowing that, for me, this scripture was talking about sharing the joy and blessings of recovery from sex and pornography addiction.

I express gratitude for my friends Rhyll and Steven Croshaw at SALifeline.org for pointing out the connection between “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy” and sex and porn addiction recovery in the LDS Church.

*Image courtesy of Wofgang Wander. Use licensed under GFDL.

About Andrew+

Latter-day Saint, sex and pornography addict in recovery, dealing with depression, returned missionary, father of a bunch of kids, graduate degree, self-employed, Book of Mormon reader, writer and thinker. Working on understanding and overcoming resentment, the number one killer of addicts.

Comments

“Lower Lights” | An Inspiring Anthem for LDS Porn Addicts — 4 Comments

  1. All I can say is WOW! I am trying my best to bring others to the shore – this was so beautiful and touched my heart so much – thankyou Andrew!!

  2. What a beautiful application of that hymn.

    I have come to believe that addicts in recovery may possibly know more about the atonement than almost anyone. I’m grateful for all you and other doing this similar kind of ‘lower lights’ work (like the Croshaws) are doing to share the light.

    • Thanks, Ed. The Lord needs more lower lights like you! As you work your program of recovery, other men will find their way to shore because of you. God bless!