Let's be honest, the word "God" freaks people out. Any sort of conversation on religion is uncomfortable. It's such a taboo anymore. As soon as you mention the G word around someone who's just joining us on the journey of recovery, they either start resisting or questioning. They suddenly get defensive how they're "not into the whole God thing" and "I thought this wasn't a religious program". Some people have an idea in their head that God is punishing. I was absolutely one of those people. My dad has been sober my whole life, so there's always been Grapevines laying around and the Big Book sat in the bathroom. I've been to anniversary meetings and AA picnics. Almost all of his friends are sober. When I got to the rooms, I thought I knew everything about it already. All of the sudden I read the steps on the banner on the wall, and there's that G word, mentioned not just once, but in many of the steps. I ran the show my whole life (and look where it got me, lol) so what's God have to do with anything?
My family and I were "Chreasters", which means, we *sometimes* went to church on Christmas and Easter. Weddings and funerals, too, but that doesn't really count as church. It's something that wasn't important in our house. Not that we were atheists by any means, we just valued sleeping in on Sundays rather than going to church and singing hymns. I was exposed to and believed in God and considered myself a Christian. It's not like it was a topic that was never spoken of. We simply just chose not to go.
Before I got sober, the God of my understanding was something/someone I prayed to when I needed something. I definitely believed there was a power greater than myself because how else did we get here? There is certainly a difference between simply believing in God, and having a real relationship with Him. All relationships take work, trust and maintenance. Our action items include praying. The trust is given and received as we work our steps. We must maintain the relationship every single day. This is the beginning of our spiritual foundation. When I started working the steps with my sponsor, step two was confusing to me. Although it's a "simple program", we as addicts tend to overthink things like crazy, so naturally I had so many questions. It was just a matter of admitting that we can't fix ourselves. WE ALONE cannot restore ourselves to sanity. Or we would have! It's acknowledging that there MAY be something else out there. We are open to the idea of it. I mean, really, if you addicts and alcoholics were anything like me, I had run out of options as to why my life was the way it was and how to get back on track. We want to control everything, to direct the show. When that failed miserably, it resulted in insanity. We might have been able to control most things, but the most important one that we couldn't control was our drinking and drugging. IT had control over US.
Eventually, we were able to create the image of our Higher Power. Let me make myself clear, a Higher Power doesn't have to be interchangeable with the term God. It is for me, since I believe that God is my Higher Power. "God" can simply stand for Good Orderly Direction. I used to think it was so ridiculous when I would hear someone say in meetings that a doorknob could be a Higher Power. But it makes sense! There are some people who resist the God concept SO much, that they need something tangible to believe in. Also, the doorknob symbolizes "opening the door" to recovery and a HP. I've heard someone say that they had a spiritual experience while watching squirrels play together outside, so squirrels were that person's HP. A lot of people even use the rooms/people of AA as their Higher Power at first.
When I had around two months sober, my boyfriend at the time couldn't stay clean. We were living together, and two months prior we had hit our bottoms together. Being in active addiction with a significant other is probably best left to a whole other post! It had become an extremely toxic environment as I was trying to stay on the right path. After countless fights, I was turning into someone I hated, and I decided it was time to live elsewhere. My best friend, Britney graciously welcomed me into her home with her four year old daughter. It was the best decision I ever made and I am forever indebted to her. She also welcomed my dog, Brice and we have since built such a warm and loving home together. Anyway, I began joining her for church on Sunday mornings. She had asked me a few times and once I started with the steps I felt like it was the right time to start going. I walked in and immediately felt at home. It's a non-denominational church and they don't even ask you to believe in anything, just come and enjoy the message. It didn't have the typical church feel that I had envisioned, with the stand up, sit down, sing hymns, fall asleep, get nudged by your mom to wake up, etc. There was a band on stage playing music that was actually from this decade. It was lively and friendly. The way the pastor related real life stuff to the bible completely changed the way I looked at things. I've never experienced anything like it. I started becoming a regular attendee and eventually got baptized there. Britney had such a big part in helping me build this relationship with my HP. She attracted me to start praying more, and this time I found myself praying for other people, not asking God to relieve me of my hangover. I believe with absolute certainty that one of the many reasons God put her in my life was to draw me closer to Him, and boy did it work.
The sister of prayer is meditation. Through both of these, we improve our conscious contact with God - as we understand Him. I heard someone say that prayer is seeking the answers and meditation allows us to receive the answers. At first, I had a lot of issues with sitting/laying still for 10 minutes trying to not think about anything and also trying to stay awake. Meditation takes a lot of practice! There is no wrong way to do it but the more we do it the more answers we get. I went on a spiritual retreat down the shore over the summer with a bunch of women (not something I would have been into a year ago) and I really got so much out of it. I learned the basic practices for meditation and the different stages.
My God is not a genie by any means. He provides me with the necessary tools to live out His will. When I pray for patience, He sticks me in a traffic jam. When I pray for compassion, He places a difficult person in my life. He has a sense of humor sometimes, too. Step 3 is one that I practice every single day. I made the decision to turn my will and my life over to God as I understand him. This was not easy for me. One of my biggest character defects is when I have plans, and they don't go according to how I wanted or expected, I get bratty and angry. I put an expectation on it and it went wrong. Something AA taught me was to hold on to my plans loosely. I am not in control. Although it's frustrating when someone cancels on you last minute or you are late to a concert because of an accident on the highway, it's always for a reason. It's similar to rejection. We might be rejected by a job, a person, only to be redirected to something else, something better. God always has a plan!! The sooner we realize this and recognize that we don't run the show, the sooner we will form our relationship and turn our will over. Today I trust that God's got my back. I have asked him to remove the character defects he feels no longer serve me anymore. I don't worry as much today. In active addiction I was certain that God had turned His back on me. It was natural to feel as if God was "punishing" me for my terrible sins, but in reality, I had just turned my back on Him. It's a little cliche, but it reminds me of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She had the power to go home all along. I had the power to surrender to my Higher Power whenever I wanted. When I did, I was free from my nightmare.