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.
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.
I’m discovering that my ‘self’ is a balloon and my ‘ego’ is the air in the balloon. I must constantly monitor the amount of air that I hold in my self. If I haven’t enough, I will lose my shape and be a wrinkled blob with no substance. Who wants a limp balloon? If I inflate it too much, then I can also deform it from the original shape and risk losing my ‘self’ in a terrific explosion. The trick is finding the balance that is right for me: just enough air to keep my shape. I think that when I find that point of equilibrium I discover humility.
Whenever I run into problems, my character defects shoot the surface or I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster, I’m also discovering that it has ego at its source. I’m discovering that my ego is either underinflated or way over inflated. and I need to get it back in balance. I am who I am: no more and no less. That balance of who I am is difficult to maintain. Like a scale, it only takes a grain of sand to cause it to tip one way or the other. So I need to be constantly maintaining the balance of ego within myself.
Years ago I could solve the problems of the world all from the regal perch of a bar stool. Of course, nothing happened because I did nothing. I was an ego full of hot air. Life isn’t handed to us on the proverbial silver platter. We have to go out and make it. I was reminded this week that our Higher Power does for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. However, if we can do it ourselves, then it’s up to us to do it. (Thank you Terry) And there are a lot of challenges in this world that I am up to resolving if I get off my butt and do the work rather than pontificate and expect the results to magically appear.
For me, it’s all part of knowing my ‘self’ and keeping my ego in check. I may not be able to move mountains with the wave of my hand, but I can still bring along a wheelbarrow and shovel. There are some things I can do to make my life, rather than waiting around for something to happen then complain when it doesn’t. I can’t do it all, but I can do my part. I don’t always get it right, but I don’t always get it wrong either and sometimes, I find the sweet spot of just the right amount of air in my balloon.