The “Care” of My Higher Power

Many folks do very well in recovery until they come to working Step Three. Here we are asked to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the ‘care of’ a Higher Power, as we understood him. And many balk at this step. Their past experience has not been positive when dealing with things around God and religion. I understand. The God I grew up with wasn’t easily understandable: at one moment, kind and loving and at another throwing my soul to the bowels of hell for all eternity.

As much as I tried to work within the religion I grew up with, I couldn’t. So I left it, took a fork in the road to another idea, that of spirituality. My addiction did a great deal to slow down my progress along this road but with recovery, I found myself moving forward again. I didn’t believe in some old guy with a white beard in some celestial space surrounded by throngs of angels. And while I appreciate Christianity and it was how I was raised, I no longer believed in that either. The truth is, I couldn’t have told you exactly what or how my Higher Power was, but I knew that there was something more than what my five senses could interpret from the world.

And that’s one of the miracles of this program. It doesn’t force me to believe anything. It’s a Higher Power of my understanding. I don’t expect you to understand my relationship to my that Power, and I respect your relationship to yours. As I have grown in recovery I have received greater understanding. I expect that I will continue to grow in that understanding. But what about those who are diligently working the Steps and are finding it difficult?

I’ve learned that you’re making a decision. It need not be all cut and dried and finalized. I know my understand of my H.P. certainly wasn’t then nor is it now defined. In fact, I don’t want to define that power because that will put limitations on it. I use the word ‘god’ in meetings, because it’s convenient, but it certainly isn’t ‘god’ in the traditional sense.

scenic view of night sky

Photo by Hristo Fidanov on Pexels.com

A regular at my home group who has been in the program for many, many years once shared with me that if a new person in the program is finding that they are living in less fear than they were before, then they have a Higher Power. If they are living a life that is more manageable, then they have a Higher Power. And if they are thinking about what they are doing before they do it rather than following their egos, then they have a Higher Power. They may not ever be able to define it, but they know that there is something that is helping them; something or someone with a greater knowledge that is nudging them along this path. If they want to call it God, or Christ or a G.roup  O.f  D.runks, it doesn’t matter. They’ve figured out that they’re better off with whatever Higher Power is ‘caring for’ them than when they were still out there and the person in their mirror was the one in charge of decisions!

Trust the process of the Twelve Steps: all of them. As you go along you will find that you are ‘cared for’ in so many ways. Open-mindedness and willingness go a long way in recovery to help us all to see that we are connected, which for me, is what spirituality is all about.

A World of Miracles

The more I investigate, the more I realize that what we know is only a scratch on the surface of truth, of what Einstein called the “persistent illusion” of reality. When I open myself up to even just the ‘possibility’ of there being something out there greater than myself, I also open myself up to perceiving the wonders that surround us always but that we don’t always notice as we make our busy way through life.
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A friend at a meeting this morning talked about going for a hike with his brother to a water fall. The trek was much more arduous than they had expected. When they finally arrived, it because a mystical experience for one of them. As they drew closer they heard the sound becoming more and more intense until the cascade slowly revealed itself through the undergrowth of the trees.  My buddy saw how the sun was beaming light down through the trees and the mist rising from the water as it hit the rocks on the way down to a blue pool below. He felt the spray, watched the butterflies and took the whole thing in as a Higher Power moment. For his brother, it was a nice waterfall, but it held nothing of the spiritual aspect. Two people, two points of view of the same experience.

Our experience of anything depends upon our perspective and past experiences. Perhaps it’s my bias, but I believe that those of us who have been through difficult times and are making our way through recovery have to, perhaps, work harder than others to see the beauty of things and the wonders of the people and the world around us. Perhaps it’s because we were so wrapped up in ourselves, our ego and our disease that we couldn’t see it before. Perhaps we’re no different than anyone else. But it is important to take the time to look outside of ourselves to stand in awe and appreciate what is happening around us at any particular time. And even if you don’t wish to attribute what you see or what happened to you to your Higher Power, you can still appreciate the ‘miracle’ of it all.

During this time of year, we tend to see more positive things happening around us because our perspective has changed around the holidays and we expect to see the miracle of Christmas. I believe that these things are always happening around us. Every day there are wonders and sights to behold that will cause us to pause if we look for them. If you want to take the magic of Christmas with you through the whole year, then take this attitude with you. Miracles don’t only happen one day a year, or on 42nd Street in NYC or in Bedford Falls with Jimmy Stewart realizing that he’s the ‘richest man in town’. They around around us all the time. But we have to look for them.

From a sunny and hot Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, (don’t be too jealous), I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ¡Feliz Navidad!

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

– Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

Living the Program

I am an addict.  It doesn’t matter what substance I used, how often or how long I used it, or how long it’s been since I’ve used it.  I am and always will be an addict. I am grateful that I have some time in my program, but I must always be aware that I am just a couple of bad decisions away from a crash and burn.  I know from hearing others in meeting rooms how easy it is to slip up and what can happen if I do go out again, and it won’t be pretty.  I have never heard of someone who came back to their program talk about how wonderful it was while out there using or drinking again.  “The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.”(Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 30) This idea must be crushed and obliterated from my mind.  My ego tells me I can be different from everyone else.  Experience, my own and others, warns me that I am not.

It’s not sobriety that has brought about the changes in my life. It’s the spiritual awakening that is the result of working and living the 12 steps. Not drinking and not using may mean that I am sober and clean.  But they don’t give me sobriety. In my early thirties I stopped on my own once for about five years. But I wasn’t really sober: I was fighting against my desires to escape life.  I really wanted to have a beer with friends, a glass of wine with dinner or share a joint, but I knew I shouldn’t.  And I wasn’t the nicest person to be around because I still had all of the ego charged character traits that I always did, only now they weren’t being softened by that gentility of the first pipeful or shot. My recovery was missing something.

That something, I believe, was the spiritual experience, or awakening.  A psychological shift in thinking that has allowed me to surrender, stop trying to control everything, and realize that I was the greatest threat to my existence.  I was drowning in the river of life and still trying to swim upstream.  If I wanted to really live, I had to understand that when it came to certain things, I was completely powerless.  If I just stopped thrashing about, I could at least float with the current.

Surrender on this existential level wasn’t that hard. There really wasn’t much left to give up. I had lost my dignity and self respect.  I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.  My liver was enlarged and who knows what other physical problems I was on the verge of encountering. I had alienated most of the people around me and was finding comfort in gloomy establishments with people who were living much like I was. My life was circling the bottom of the toilet bowl. Somehow I still had enough sense to see that I was on the path of losing myself. So in spite of my misgivings and preconceptions of what recovery was all about, I showed up at a local meeting and took my place at the table.

I understand that I was ready to surrender, to try something else because my way wasn’t working.  A friend of mine calls it his Gift Of Desperation.  I was powerless and I couldn’t manage my own life.  That was my first baby step into the program.  The eleven remaining steps helped me to recover and slowly brought me about to a more awakened state of being and opened me to a relationship to a Higher Power.

My life today is changed from what it was before.  My sobriety today is of a different quality than I had when I quit solo for five years. It is different because I work at living a twelve step program. I know that this is a lifelong process, and it is one I do willingly because I like the changes in my life and my being.  Today I like who I am and I can look at my reflection in the mirror without cringing.  The changes in my life are not because I am put down the bottle or the pipe. They are a result of working all twelve steps of the program and awakening to the spirit.   I am finally enjoying the trip down the river.

♥  ♥  ♥

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Peace