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

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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.

The Spiritual Angle: Making Connections

Today’s reading from Daily Reflections of AA literature (Feb. 9) talks about the ‘spiritual angle’ of the recovery program and how many people find this to be one of the most difficult parts of the program to accept and integrate into their lives. For many the term ‘spiritual’ is synonymous with God and religion and brings with it a whole basket full of snakes.  A basket they’d rather keep well sealed. I know that the preconceived ideas I had about the program and religion kept me out of the rooms for several years because I thought that recovery would turn me into a bible thumping fool. And yet I finally came, despite my misgivings, because I couldn’t do it on my own.

And that’s really the key to the ‘spiritual angle’: I couldn’t do it on my own. In my disease I had dug my hole so deep that I had isolated myself from everyone and everything. Now here I was in a recovery meeting surrounded by others who could relate to me, and, more importantly, I found I could relate to them. I was impressed that these people seemed happy. I heard laughter. I was invited back. In a few days I knew I had found my tribe and that my preconceptions had been incorrect.

Slowly I started making connections. First to the others at the meeting. Then I started connecting to myself. I fount that I could actually get through a day without altering my personality. I didn’t know it then, but I still had a long way to go. And I learned a new trick, or so I thought of it that way: one day at a time. Every day at the meetings I was deepening my connection to others, to the program and to myself.

In that process I started to develop my spirituality, which I believe is, stated simply, making connections. I was seeing first, that I wasn’t alone. Then I started seeing that it wasn’t all about me. I started being less selfish with my time and my talents. I started listening. Not only was I learning that I couldn’t do it all by myself, I was also learning that I didn’t have to, nor was there ever a ‘rule’ that I had to do it alone.

The connections to myself and to other people then broadened my mind to realize that we are all connected in a manner much deeper than a ‘hello, how are you?’ kind of way. I had a renewed sense of being a part of something. I was breaking out of my isolation, breaking out of my ego and entering into the ‘realm of the spirit’ as it is sometimes called. For me, it is the ‘realm of connections’ where I am no longer alone.

I see myself today as connected to myself in that I take responsibility for my actions, realizing that I’m the only one I can control. I am connected to others: not just the folks in the recovery rooms but also with my family, people I work with and interact with everyday. And I believe that I have a connection to everything. There is something greater at work here. Something I still can’t put my finger on but which connects me to everything else.

That is my understanding of the ‘spiritual angle’ of the Twelve Step program of recovery. I have connections I didn’t have before. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I understand it. I just have to recognize that it exists.

I am more than self and selfishness: I am connected.

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Gratitude, Gracias and Grace

Today, the second Monday of October, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s similar to Thanksgiving south of the border but without Black Friday. Gratitude comes from the Latin ‘gratia’ which is the root for the English word ‘grace’ and the Spanish word ‘gracias’ which means thank you.  I have written several times here that it is impossible to feel fear, anger or resentment with a heart full of gratitude. I am believer in the gratitude list. I don’t need to wait for one day, once a year to be grateful.  I can be grateful every day. My list has lifted my spirit many a time.

Here are a few things that come to mind at this time.

I’m grateful that I wake up every day. I’m not coming to, I’m not kind a morgue, nor am I in that foggy state of semi-consciousness following a blackout. I awaken clear headed, and I remember what happened last night.

I can begin my day again whenever I need to. Every once in a while I have a bad day. Fortunately I can leave the past in the past. Yes, sometimes things don’t go as we would like them. I can find a quiet spot and mentally put the first hours of the day behind me. I can’t change what happened, but I don’t have to dwell in it.

I have tools in my arsenal to deal with feelings and difficult situations. First of all, I deal with them right now, as they arise. Or at least I try. I can stop, breath and know that it’s not the end of the world. I remember that it is temporary. I can call my sponsor or another member of the group. I can step away. I didn’t know how to do any of that before.

I belong. I am part of a world-wide community of sobriety. I learned when I came into recovery that I am not alone. In fact, wherever I go I can find like minded folks working on their recovery. I am grateful I’m part of a ‘we’ program.

I have a Higher Power and its not me. How freeing it is to know that I don’t have to handle everything. At any point in my day I can stop, close my eyes and remember that I am not alone. I can do this in moments of great joy or great frustration. I am not in this world alone. My Higher Power has my back.

I can enjoy the bus ride that is life. My job in life is to enjoy the ride, look out the window, enjoy my fellow passengers. I don’t drive the bus. I don’t have to fix the bus. I don’t sell tickets nor do I direct others where to sit or with whom to talk. Sit and enjoy. That’s all there is to it.

I am more alive today than I have ever been. I try to live in the moment.  Today is what is important, not tomorrow, nor yesterday.  It follows that I am alive today.  When I live in the moment I am free. I am free from thoughts of yesterday: things said or unsaid, done or undone.  I am free from tomorrow’s plans, fears and anxieties.  This is the moment I am alive.

I don’t ‘have to’ I ‘get to’ do many things in life. This is something that a blogging friend talked about a while back.  I don’t have to go to work, I get to go to work. I get to drive a car. I get to live a life beyond my dreams. I get to recover.  I am grateful.

♥  ♥  ♥

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Peace