“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
If I thought Step One was tough, and it was, this was going to be a real challenge. You see, when I finally embraced AA and the 12 Steps, I did so without actually thinking too much about the God stuff. I knew I needed to integrate the 12 steps into my life, but I hadn’t really prepared myself to wrap my arms, or my life, around the concept of a Higher Power.
But then my sponsor reminded me that I had to actually, you know, work the steps. That meant coming to terms with what I did, or didn’t, believe about God.
I grew up in a moderately religious Catholic family. We attended church on most Sundays, but as my sisters and I grew older, our parents wanted us to make our own decision about whether or not religion would play a part in our lives. My youngest sister embraced it. My oldest sister and I walked away.
For me, walking away from religion wasn’t so much a rejection of the Church, as it was a rejection of the notion that there was an almighty puppet-master in the sky moving us around our lives like pieces on a chessboard. I went through most of my young adulthood not even thinking about it (although, admittedly, if it didn’t involve drinking, I didn’t think about very much back then), perhaps the hubris of youth insulated me from ever actually needing to rely on a spiritual life, but within the recovery world of AA, believing in something more powerful than myself was an
I wish I could say that the process of discovering my spirituality was like walking a straight line from point A to point B. But it was more like a roller coaster, with lots of twist and turns and loop-d-loops, a process that, at times, left me feeling disoriented and, quite frankly, a little nauseated.
But, I also discovered the process was worth it, and I was able to reconcile my need for an ordered world in which human beings are more or less in control of their own fates, with the notion that very much about life and the universe is comprised of a power greater than me.
Essentially, that’s all there is to it, in my mind. I think a lot of us alcoholics try to make it more complicated than that, perhaps those of us who think of ourselves as agnostic or atheist are chief among them. We search for a complexity that, in actuality, doesn’t really exist.
You see, the only thing that AA requires us to believe, is that something exists that is more powerful than we are. And, what I’ve discovered, is that there are A LOT of things that are more powerful than me – evolution, the cosmos, humanity, the weather, and on and on. I’ve yet to meet someone who describes the weather as their higher power, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone hasn’t chosen it.
For me, I chose the universe. It was big, it was powerful, it was mysterious, and it didn’t require anything of me except to understand that it was most definitely a power that was greater than me.
Since that day, my spirituality has changed and evolved, and believe it or not, I have found a comfortable faith in (gasp) God.
I even sometimes accompany my mother to Sunday mass without needing to censor or edit the prayers of the faithful in my head.
But, whether you believe in God or not is unimportant. You only need to believe that there is a power greater than yourself. Something that when you think about it, can provide you with comfort and serenity, something that can help you understand your divine place in this world.
And, whatever that is, you hold onto it for dear life.
I promise you, you’ll need it.
Justin J. is a former resident of Smith Lodge and a gratefully recovering alcoholic. He hopes to be a regular contributor to our recovery-related blogs. Justin volunteers at our Mission Detox Center by bringing the fellowship of AA to others who are beginning the long and courageous journey towards a life of sobriety.
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