In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, a familiar refrain is that religion is for those who are afraid of Hell and spirituality is for people who have already been there. I am here to tell you that no truer words have been said. Most people who walk through the doors of AA or NA have been to Hell and back at least once and know first-hand what the depths of this disease can portend.
We come to this program with many different hopes and dreams. Some are looking for a safe way to drink. Some are looking for a magic potion to take away the desire to drink. Almost all have come with a desire to feel better and failing that, to feel at all.
When we get to Step Two, after having taken the step to acknowledge that we are powerless over the next drink and that our lives are a complete mess, we are asked to accept that no human power can relieve our suffering. And this is where the rubber meets the road.
So many come this far and freeze. Many equate spirituality with religion and have had such problems with organized religion that the thought of turning to a Higher Power is enough to send them packing. It is important for those of us who have had that same feeling to grab hold of these souls who plan to dart into traffic, to show them that there is a way to recovery that does not involve the God of your parents’ understanding or the God recognized by the established church.
Rosemary talks about how hard it was to accept a Higher Power that she envisioned as a tall heavy set man with a long flowing white beard and similarly colorless draping robes. People of color need to have a Higher Power that looks like them. Women need a Higher Power that looks like them. Some want a Higher Power that has no human form and is ethereal, natural beyond human comprehension.
I came from a very rigid understanding of a Higher Power that was known as G-d. With a hyphen because to use His name is blasphemy. For a very long time I would not call my Higher Power God because I did not want to share prayer with someone who looked like a combination of Noah, Moses and Santa Clause. I needed something powerful but not so fatherly.
My Higher Power needed to be more relevant, more current and definitely more feminine. So I started with a concept akin to Mother Nature. At the very least, I was willing to accept that some power, greater than me, created all of the things in the universe. Someone had to create the first flower, bird, lion, person. Even if entities reproduce, whether on their own or with a partner, something had to make it that the act of reproducing would in fact create a new entity. Someone had to have created DNA and molecules of different kinds. I could get my arms around this concept.
This I found was very important because in order to obtain recovery, I needed to acknowledge that I personally was NOT the General Manager of the Universe. That there was a General Manager but it was NOT me. Until I could find some modicum of humility, I could not become completely well. I truly believe that. Not everyone does and I don’t think it is a requirement for everyone….but it damn sure was a requirement for me. And so it was.
I had a sponsee once who had a really hard time with the concept of any type of God. She had been raised with no religion at all, so she had no preconceived derision but rather just didn’t believe it at all. She was disheartened by the fact that she didn’t believe in a power greater than herself. So I suggested she look at our Home Group.
We had a number of members who had many years of sobriety…people who came to the meeting each week that were very happy and pleasant. And these people had once been hopeless and desolate. Surely there must be some Higher Power, even if it was an internal spirit of sorts, that brought all these people to health and happiness. This is where I came to understand that my Higher Power might not look a whit like yours and that is a-okay. My Higher Power needs to fit my needs, not yours.
I used to describe the “hole in my soul” as the vacant place inside me that caused me emotional pain. I tried to stave off that pain with alcohol and drugs for many years. Once I got sober, the hole was still there and the enormity of the vacancy was pervasive. So I found alternate addictions to take the place of alcohol and drugs. First it was sugar. Then it became work. I would submerge myself in work for 16 hours a day so I would not have to feel my feelings. Ultimately, though it was when I learned to feel my feelings that I found MY Higher Power within me.
How can Rosemary and I help you to find your own Higher Power, regardless of what you choose to name him, her or it? Rosemary suggests writing a classified ad for what you would like your Higher Power to be. Include all the values and qualities your Higher Power should have. Then spend time doing things that feed your spirit…go for walks, do random acts of kindness, sing or listen to the birds. And take time to learn to meditate. I find that my Higher Power comes to me most often when I am at peace and my spirit is quiet and able to welcome other thoughts, sights and sounds.
Please feel free to let me know what helps you to connect to YOUR Higher Power. We can all get there, even if we all take different paths.