The Precious Gift

The Precious Gift

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!

— JamieQ

A Small Price to Pay

A Small Price to Pay

By working this step, we keep the cobwebs out of (our life).” – Reaching for Personal Freedom

This morning, working on the 10th step in my work book, I came across that sentence. Cobwebs are fine when they’re catching pleasant memories. But when they catch ahold of fears, problems, self-pity, anger, frustration and hopelessness, those cobwebs have to be swept away or they will destroy me.

The only way I’ve discovered how to eliminate such cobwebs from my life is to approach them like a final exam in college that I really need to get an A in.

Having had a difficult time keeping my attention focused throughout my life, I had to work super hard in college to get good grades. While others, like my younger brother, could get A’s by just glancing at text books and attended some classes, I had to approach college differently.

I would read the text book. Then read it a second time with a highlighter in my hand, highlighting what I thought might be on a test. Then I’d write out, in a notebook, everything that I highlighted. Then I’d read it into a tape recorder. Then I’d listen to what I read over and over. Plus, I made sure to attended every class and took copious notes. I even sold my notes to others, they were so good. Ever the entrepreneur. I ended up scoring very high in college, but it was really, really hard work and very, very long hours.

I approach my program the same way. The prize isn’t A’s —it’s something even better: when I make working my program, growing spiritually, and carrying the message to others the priority in my life, and I commit at least a couple hours each day doing it, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension and have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I also get to have great relationships with others and love the man I’m becoming. It’s so cool.

So each day, when I awaken, I resolve for that day to allocate the first couple of hours to working my program, which I call the Daily Deal. I think it’s a small price to pay in order to get an attitude of gratitude and be happy, joyous and free.

Because… I’ve learned that when I make recovery my priority… ILML!

— Jamie Q

Investing in the Great Life

“Faith is a spiritual skill to be cultivated.” – Hope for Today

The reason that this particular excerpt resonates so well for me is that it pinpoints this reality:

If I want to attain & maintain something valuable to me in this life, I need to step up and do the work to get & keep it.

That means that I need to invest the time and energy to take specific concrete actions in order to help me move closer to my goal.

It’s sort of like working an actual job. If I want to earn money, I need to put in the work. Right?

Faith is exactly the same. If I suddenly fully believe in something (like God, the program, living in the moment, etc) I will attain both enlightenment and receive all the gifts that come with it. Nope. That’s not how it works.

In order to feel great, think positively, have an attitude of gratitude, get and stay spiritually connected, have fantastic relationships, experience the most amazing life I possible can, I have to invest the time, energy & work to get it.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Want a great body! Great! But you’ll need to work for it. Start by switching to a super healthy diet, you’ll likely feel like your starving for a while. Now do rigorous strength exercises six days a week making sure you get at least 45 minutes of heavy cardio in. You’ll likely be very sore for awhile. But, if you do the work consistently no matter how you feel, it’s guaranteed: you will have a great body.

When it comes to earning money and physical health, there’s no magic pill or shortcut to attain success.

The same is true for all the rest. I have to invest in a great life if I want one. When I spend the 2 hours each day practicing my spiritual, emotional, and physical work, followed by 8-10 hours of financial work, making sure I leave time each day to be of service to others and engage in fun hobbies and recreation, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension, my faith in this process continues to grow and… ILML!

— JamieQ

Focus on the Here & Now

Focus on the Here & Now

“It’s difficult to stay in the present… I start living simultaneously in the past and the future.” — Adapted from Hope for Today, p.158

Every time I feel uncomfortable, it’s frequently because I’m upset about something that has already happened or worried about something that may happen. More often than not I’m in both places at once, thinking about the past and scared about the future. Sometimes my thoughts go like this, “Oh my God, look what happened. Now what’s going to happen?“.

Books have been written about the importance of staying in the moment, where neither the present nor the past exists, and for good reason. If I’m interested in being a piece, comfortable in my own skin, and enjoying life one moment at a time (which I am), it’s best for me to give both the past and the future to my higher power, and keep my focus on the here and now, where everything really is fine and… ILML!

— JamieQ

One Interpretation of God

One Interpretation of God

“From low to high, the levels of consciousness are: shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, neutrality, willingness, acceptance, reason, love, joy, peace, enlightenment.” — Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins

I was texting with a friend this morning about our concepts of a higher power. I said:

I love that we get to choose who or what our higher power is. Mine is love, gratitude, compassion, happiness, etc. It’s also my higher consciousness, as opposed to my lower consciousness.

His response was:

Yeah, I notice mine changes constantly, but I really dig the idea of higher vs lower consciousness.

Having been a guy with very low self esteem, angry at myself and the world around me, I used alcohol and drugs to deal with my thoughts and feelings. As a result of how I felt, my behavior was often self-centered, unkind, and destructive. I was operating from a place of shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire and anger. In other words, I was fully connected to, and acting out of, my lower consciousness.

After doing the daily readings, journaling, gratitude lists, meditations, fellowship, and service work for many years, I began to start practicing and experiencing a healthy sense of pride, I became more courageous, started becoming more willing to evolve, opening up to the idea of acceptance, and ultimately I began to experience more love, joy, peace and enlightenment. In other words, I started moving away from my lower consciousness and began connecting to my higher consciousness.

For many of us who are not comfortable with religion, the word God is so intrinsically tied to religion that it’s difficult for us to connect to, or even believe in, the idea of God.

Though these days I’m cool with the words God and Higher Power, I still interpret those words as “My Higher Consciousness.” It just makes sense to me. Others interpret them as they choose, so I believe I have a right to my beliefs. And I’ve discovered that the more diligent I am at consistently practicing rituals which keep me connected with my higher, rather than my lower, consciousness, the more ILML!

— JamieQ

Return on Investment

Return on Investment

Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.” — Malvina Reynolds from the book In God’s Care

The program has shown me that the best gifts in life are the ones we give away. Why? Because the act of giving has the absolutely highest return on investment of any kind.

When I give of myself, what I get in return is vastly greater than what I have given.

If I give my time to listen to someone struggling—without judging them, I feel compassion and empathy, which opens up my heart. And this is what intimacy is all about.

The same thing happens when I love or express kindness without expecting it in return. Once I get out of the “me” and “mine” mentality and into the “how can I help those who need my help and have asked for it” frame of mind, I evolve into a better person. Those actions allow me to be proud of the man I’m becoming, allowing me to look in the mirror and begin believing it when I say “I love you James.”

And when I love who I am through the action of loving others… ILML!

— JamieQ

A Heightened State of Awareness

A Heightened State of Awareness

“I am space, I am the sun, I am the directions, above and below, I am all things, I am the earth, I am the ocean, the world exists in me, I am the fragrance in flowers, I am the very essence in all things in the universe.” – Excerpts from a Deepak Chopra Meditation

I love the idea that we are totally connected with everything, not only on the planet, but throughout the multiverses. That we are inseparable from all that exists. When I tap into this feeling, allowing myself to feel connected to everything and everyone, a peace settles over me, bringing a gentle smile to my face.

When I hurt someone or something, I’m hurting myself. Whether it’s another person or a small spider. And when I’m aware that I am everything and everything is me, I can’t avoid feeling what I am doing to them or the world around me. It’s a law. The law of reciprocity.

When I love, I feel love. When I’m mean, I feel hurt. When I’m compassionate, I feel understood. When I am punishing, I feel shut off from the sunlight of the spirit. What I give, I receive. That’s why the gift of being of service in the program has been such a wonderful experience – as I connect and love others, I instantly feel connected and loved in return.

Today I’ll remember that everything came from, and ultimately goes back to, source. I am, at my very essence, source, as is the sun, moon, rain, trees, animals, and every person on this planet.

Through being loving, compassionate and helpful to others, I end up feeling loved, understood and valued in return. And when I live in that heightened state of awareness and understanding, whereby I am connected to all things, my ego mind slips away, I am liberated, and… ILML!

– JamieQ