I knew I had a problem long before I darkened the doors of a twelve step meeting room. I had tried self-will. I had tried counselling. I tried accupuncture. I tried meditation. I tried exercise. I tried a lot of things and got tired of trying. More than anything else, the whole ‘God’ thing kept me away from following a program for well over two years. I had this idea that I would be forced to be a bible thumping, born-again, soapbox preaching Christian in order to join a group. At least I had heard that God was somehow involved in the program. I am sure that I invented most of what I thought about the whole ‘god’ thing. I had tried religion and wasn’t going down that road again, thank-you very much!
Things got to a point where I had to do something, or I was going to go down and go down quickly. Hell no, I wasn’t going ‘there!’ But I could see that the road I was on was taking me. And it wasn’t the Promised Land. That last couple of months before I stopped I remember waking up each morning and finding an excuse not to go to a meeting that day. I knew where they were located and at what time they were held. But, it wouldn’t be today and I’d start the ball rolling again of seeking oblivion, unconsciousness or blackout. One morning I woke up and said today is the day and suddenly there I was, walking into a morning meeting.
I don’t remember much of that first meeting or even the first week of meetings. I was invited to return, something which wasn’t happening too often then. One of the reasons I returned was because I heard that I could choose a God, or Higher Power of my own understanding. What a relief! I saw and heard that week from people who weren’t fire and brimstoning it. Rather they spoke of a loving God as they understood Him. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at the time, but I knew at least I wouldn’t be expected to ‘Praise Jesus’ every 47 seconds.
You see, like most people who walk into the rooms of AA, NA, Al-Anon, CoDA or other Twelve Step group, I had been raised with a religion that had a pretty narrow vision of who God was and what He wanted and when He wanted it, and where I’d end up if I didn’t follow the precise dogmas. And I wanted nothing to do with that God any more. Here, however, was a new approach. I could choose my own idea of a god, capital G or small g, it was up to me. If I wanted to, I could use the people in the room as my higher power because here were folks who weren’t drinking or using so they certainly had something that I didn’t have. So I stayed and kept going to meetings.
It doesn’t matter if your God is the God of the religion you follow, the Spirit of the Universe, Source Energy, Creator or what ever you wish to call it. If you want, keep using the folks in the room as your higher power. The only caveat that I was given was that my higher power not be the guy looking back at me in the mirror; after all, he was the guy who got me into the mess I was in. He wasn’t a very good example at all.
Choose a God of your understanding gave me an in. I could live with that. It gave me enough leeway so that I could stay.
I’m grateful to say that I still have a God of my understanding with me though I like the term ‘Higher Power’. I try not to define this power too much because whenever I say what it is, I limit it to that definition. So it’s just a Higher Power. And I often say and believe that my Higher Power hasn’t changed since I have been in the program. What has changed a great deal is my understanding of that Higher Power and its role in my life.
Lately I’ve been looking at my Higher Power as the pilot on my raft going down the river. It knows the river, it’s rocks, the bends, the depth of the river and where to steer my raft. It is still my raft, my paddle, my life, but the pilot is my guide, helping me along. It’s just a metaphor, but one that works for me. It’s how I understand my God.
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