I still bristle when someone sends me a message on social media that tells me that God is blessing me this day, or that Jesus holds me in his arms. It brings back a past of rules, laws and feelings of guilt and shame. I am grateful for all I learned about religion and its practice but it is not my way of approaching my Higher Power now. There’s nothing wrong with the message. I hope to receive the blessings of my Higher Power and to feel the comfort of the Energy that surrounds and sustains us.
It’s the word God that bothers me, though I still say it. I use the word because it’s easier than explaining my concept of Higher Power. I use the word God and everyone understands that I am talking about something that is more than just me. At the same time, I would prefer that we had another word in English that conveys this concept. The image of an white haired, bearded man perched on a throne in a cloud is no longer my idea of what Source Consciousness is.
I am grateful that my recovery program allows me to choose my own concept of a Higher Power. It was a great relief when I came into the room that it wasn’t full of bible thumping proselytizers who were going to save me. I was able to find a ‘God of my own understanding’. This concept, though I didn’t understand it at the time, gave me an opening into developing a new and very different understanding of connecting to a power that had always been part of my life and brought me to recovery.
I have pretty much given up on trying to define exactly what my Higher Power is. I believe that defining that power will limit it. It’s enough to know it’s here with me. What does continue to change as I live my program is my understanding of that Power. By looking at the faiths of the world and different spiritual practices, I am deepening in my knowledge of how everything seems to work and I am left awed and amazed at how everything fits together. One of the gifts of my past is through it I can follow how the events that happened along the twists and valleys of my path have brought me to where and who I am today. Sometimes, even as things are happening and circumstances are changing, I take a step back and wonder how all of it is going to fit together, because it will. It always does.
The Eleventh Step invites me to improve my conscious contact with this Power by means of prayer and mediation, talking and listening, seeking and reflecting. I open my day by sitting on the terrace and watch the growing light as it illuminates the trees that surround me and enjoy the birds and other creatures passing by. It’s a wonderful way to open to gratitude first thing in the morning. It might not be traditional meditation but it’s working for me at this time. I expect that in the future, as my understanding of this Higher Power grows, how I keep in consciously contact with that Power will also grow. Today I receive the gift and feel the peace of knowing that I am not alone. I am grateful.
Larry was in recovery for over 25 years before he left us for the big meeting in the sky. He died as he wanted, sober and with two close friends, who are also members of his home group, at his side.
He was the group philosopher. Though he accused himself of over thinking things, he always had something worth an ear. He was a larger than life character who towered above most everyone and who never failed to help another member. His big old bear hugs were smothering but always honest and genuine. And though he’s been gone for well over a year, his bits of wisdom which were gleaned from his own experience are still echoing in the rooms of the city.
“Do it anyway,” he’d often say at a meeting, “or do it any way.” It was Larry’s manner of encouragement. Find a way to get done what needs to be done. There might be an “I don’t want to,” or an” I don’t think I can,” but when it came to the program, friends as well as sponsees heard this wise words to push forward regardless.
Sometimes in life it isn’t about desire or want. It’s about need. Larry’s words are for those things we need to do, the things we fear doing, the things we don’t even know how to do. Do it any way.
Commitment, consistency and courage are behind these words. Sticking to one’s convictions day by day regardless of what happens. This is how we live a life in recovery. This is the example Larry set for us. It is also the challenge he left with us.
“Do it anyway, do it any way.”
Thank you Larry.
I’ve often asked myself and been asked: “What is the right decision to make here? What do I do?” Since I have been in recovery I know, in some cases, what the right decision is for me. I opt for whatever will keep me happy joyous and free in recovery. That’s an easy decision for me. But there are so many other decisions that can be made and which are just as life changing and not as easy to make. Because, let’s face it, important decisions change the path of our life.
Where am I going live? What is the next step in my career? Is this the person I want to have a relationship with? Do I get a dog? Buy a new car? Is this the right time to take a vacation? Do I do a home renovation or do I move? Should I try this new thing? Is this the daily routine I want to continue with? Am I okay with myself or do I start a diet plan? Do I join a gym or go it alone? What is the next step I am to take in my journey?????
I have come to learn that there is no right answer, nor is there a wrong answer. Wherever I go, there I am. Whatever I do, that’s what I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve made a snap decision and it works out well. Other times I have dwelt on the decision and things didn’t go as I expected them to go. And I am learning that there is no perfect answer. It’s not where we are that seems to matter. It’s that we’re moving and not static. It really is the journey we take, not where we end up. Some of the stops along that journey can be great and others I would have prefered to have passed through without a glance out the window.
There are a few things that do ensure that the decisions I make are more to my liking. I can talk to a trusted friend, mentor or sponsor before making the decision. I can meditate on it and ask for spiritual guidance from my Higher Power as I understand it. I can do a list of pros and cons. I like to do the rocking chair test: years from now if I’m sitting on the porch in my rocking chair is this something that is going to matter to me? Will I regret having taken or not taken that path? As time goes on in the process it becomes easier to know, at a gut level, if this is the right decision for me now.
Every decision, every choice will alter where I am going in life. And that’s okay. There isn’t a wrong place to be, only experiences to gather. Trust the process of life, remembering that I will make it through whatever happens, until I don’t.
Enjoy the moment and take the next step, whatever it might be.