“Some of us enter recovery with a working understanding of a Higher Power. For a lot of us, however, “God” is a troublesome word. We may doubt the existence of any sort of Power greater than ourselves. Or we may remember uncomfortable experiences with religion and shy away from “the God stuff.” — Just for Today
That was me, to a T.
The word God evoked ideas of paganism, ironically a word used by many religious folks who felt that their ideology, and their God, were superior to that of others’. When I heard them say things like “My God is better than yours,”or even “My God is the only true God,” or worse yet “If you don’t believe in my God you’ll surely go to hell,” I was pushed further and further away from the idea of believing in any God, repelled by their righteousness and spiritual arrogance.
Even after having been in recovery for a long time, I could not get the “God” thing, even though I really wanted what I saw in those who had a friendship with God. I just couldn’t believe in something that was not real. Sorry.
So it took a long while until I could embrace the idea that it was okay for me to imagine, and even create, a personal vision of God that worked in my life. Ironically, what got me into believing in God was an atheist on the radio who said “God is a make believe friend for grownups.”
Shortly after, while sitting at Penne Pasta, eating a Pizza Margherita and a James Salad, I began writing on a sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper. I answered the following questions:
If I were to have, understand and believe in a God, what would that God be like?
Would this God be male? Female? Genderless?
Would this God have a personality? Thoughts? Feelings?
Would this God have an attitude? Or the ability to care about me, others or anything?
Punishing or playful?
Serious or sense of humor?
My cheerleader or critical of me?
Understanding or demanding?
By answering these questions, along with some others, an idea of a higher power I would like to have in my life began to form.
It’s interesting that I could engage in an exercise like this during a time in my life when I still yet didn’t believe in God. In order to do so I was forced, momentarily, to suspend my disbelief long enough to have an open mind. I was reminded of a portions of that quote misattributed in Alcoholics Anonymous to Herbert Spencer, which mentions “…“contempt prior to investigation.” I was finally practicing the opposite of that, in my quest to know a personal God of my understanding.
And after I was done writing, I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel differently. In fact, in that moment after I put down the pen, I would say that my feeling wasn’t too far off from that of Bill W.’s – although there was no “White Light.” Though, it could be said my spiritual experience was of the “educational variety,” since in fact I had been in recovery for quite some time. Regardless, after putting pen to paper, I felt transformed in a weird kind of way. I actually felt lighter in spirit.
As corny as it sounds, just like the words in Alcoholics Anonymous, it appeared that, finally, “I walked far over the Bridge of reason to the desired shore the faith.”
That was a personal paradigm shift for me, and the moment I identified a concept of my Higher Power, which was in my 10th year of recovery, I began what has become a very satisfying life long friendship with the God of my understanding.
I’m so grateful that the program is patient, and left the door open for me as long as I needed, and until I was ready and willing to welcome the precious gift of spirituality into my life! ILML!
I love this post. HP has definitely been a stumbling block for me but I love the steps anyway, and it’s helpful to hear the ES+H on this topic from someone in long term recovery. Thank you!
My pleasure! Thanks for reaching out! Nice to get feedback 🙂
Loved this post. I’m printing it out to review the questions you used to help identify your higher power. It’s never too late to start thinking on these things. Thanks !
Awesome! That’s the beauty of the program right there. When I can pass something useful in that’s made a profound difference in my life to someone else and possible help them love their life a little bit more! Have a great day!