There is a women's AA step meeting that I attend every week. We study one step per month which seems almost boring but you would be surprised at how much we can get out of one single step. This meeting has been an inspiration to me in writing my weekly articles. I can hear so many wonderful perspectives on every aspect of a step from women who might be different yet so much the same.
The discussion was on Step Two (“Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”). The focus was on a Higher Power and I continue to be amazed at those who only recently found one. I think I am amazed because I am not sure I could have ever hung on to sobriety without a Higher Power from the first day.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that sometimes it is easier for an agnostic to find a Higher Power than it is for someone raised in a traditional religion. I do not doubt that this is true for some folks because they only had to find a Higher Power for the first time. They did not have years and years of believing in a Higher Power only to find that this Power (whom I call God), made one feel unloved, guilty, shameful and definitely NOT one of His children.
I don’t think I ever did not believe in God because I felt too guilty not to believe. So I felt damned if I did and damned if I didn’t! This is definitely not a criticism of the Catholic religion because I still hold so much of it dear to my heart, but in my day, especially attending Catholic schools, guilt was just a part of everyday life. You committed a sin, felt guilty, confessed, did penance and it was over until the next time. Until you decided that the confessing and penance weren’t worth it any longer.
That is not something that happened to me as a child but as I got older. As an adult I made a decision (unconsciously) that I could do what I wanted, God was done with me. But I never stopped believing! My prayers were those foxhole prayers most of us are familiar with, but I guess I still felt a ray of hope. I now realize that perhaps it was not the religion as much as it was me. It was easier to blame religion for my feelings rather to take responsibility for myself. Recently one of my brothers visited me and we were talking about religion and he had never felt the same negative feelings I felt.
When people share I hear so many say that the group of drunks (G.O.D.) of the fellowship was their Higher Power. My ego would not permit me to think of anyone in the program even collectively having that much influence on me so I am grateful, indeed, that I believed in God. I had to change my image of Him, though.
I heard someone share that the program said we could build our own Higher Power. I had to smile. I kept thinking of the craft stores where you “Build a Bear” and had this image in my head of building a God. The more I thought of it the clearer the image of my Higher Power became and a beautiful image it was. Once I could change the stern, all-powerful, “king” image into the loving, forgiving, father image a comfort and serenity entered my prayers as had never happened before.
A Higher Power is vital to recovery. It is difficult to work the steps and recover if you are fighting the idea that a Higher Power exists. I cannot say that it is impossible but because I am a true believer in the spiritual core of the 12 Steps, I can’t imagine any minute, any hour, any day not having a God with me, to guide me and to love me and as hard as it is, to turn my difficulties over to Him.
For many of us who had been raised in religious homes, we find that once we build our new God and we begin to have faith and trust, the religion of our childhood becomes important. We learn to take from it what we want and feel comfortable doing so. I am not sure I ever want to be a religious person but I sure want to be a spiritual one.
How important is a Higher Power to recovery? The chapter “How It Works” in the Big Book makes it clear with these three important points: (a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives; (b) That no human power could relieve our alcoholism; and (c) That God could and would if He were sought. Any doubts?
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
Like Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book" available in print, e-book and now audio.