There are countless stories as to how people ended up on the doorstep of an AA meeting. Over and over again people have shared that they suddenly felt impelled to attend their first meeting. They might have gone years or even decades without nary a thought of AA. Even if the concept had entered their mind, it was quickly forgotten. Some of course had “tried” the program and had quickly dropped it. Yet here they were now sitting in a meeting and knowing in some deep way that the program was the solution to their problems.
Many of these people believe that their attending that particular meeting on that particular day was not a chance occurrence. Rather, it was a direct act of Divine Intervention.
This was all the more surprising because these same people had felt that G-d had given up on them a long time ago. In response, they had often also given up their belief in a Higher Power. Through the program of AA and it’s sister programs, they began to re establish a relationship with a Higher Power of their understanding. That relationship opened up many new vistas for their personal, emotional and spiritual growth.
Personal Reflection: How has My Higher Power been a part of my program of recovery?
Sometimes you walk out of a meeting in total amazement. When people tell their stories it is almost impossible to believe that the person sitting in front of you sharing a cup of coffee is the same one whose actions were just described. How could a person who had been sleeping on subway grates now be seated before you in a business suit? How could a person who had served time for armed robbery be the same one who is talking about emotional sobriety. Something must have occurred in the lives of these people to profoundly alter the course of their lives. Given their described history, willpower alone could not be the sole explanation.
In the cases mentioned above and in countless others the turning point was the discovery of a G-d of their understanding. When these people developed a conscious contact with a Higher Power their lives began to change. In addition, experience has shown that this conscious contact needs to be ongoing. As soon as we believe that we can go it alone so to speak, we are opening up a door to trouble. Before we know it, we will revert to our old ways of thinking and acting.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to revitalize my conscious contact?
At a meeting recently a person was having a good laugh with some of his friends. He said, “I guess if I walked around with my hands tied behind my back I wouldn’t have to worry about taking a drink”. The same principle could be applied to members in NA and OA as well. If only we had control over our hands we wouldn’t have a problem with alcohol, drugs or food. And therein lies the crux of the problem. Many of us had spent years attempting to control the use of our drug of choice. We had evolved countless strategies to deal with our addictive tendencies. Some of them were actually quite ingenious. Ultimately though all of them failed. We believe the reason behind this is actually quite profound. In our estimation, the ability to become truly sober goes beyond our own personal efforts. It was only with the help of our Higher Power that our obsession to use was lifted. This was the essence of step 2 where we “came to belief that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. This belief continues on a daily basis for our program of recovery. Without it, the only alternative would be to walk around with our hands tied behind our backs.
Personal Reflection: How do I apply Step 2 to my life?
People in the fellowship come in all religious and spiritual persuasions. There are many of us who identify with a particular religious group. Perhaps on the world stage there is conflict between different religions. In AA, NA and OA that is not the case. We couldn’t care less if you are Catholic, Jewish, Anglican or Sufi. What matters is that you have a desire to stop using your drug of choice. For those of us aligned to a particular theology, having a belief in a Higher Power is just an extension of our religious practice.
There are those in the program, who although not connected to a particular religion per se, are spiritual in nature. Their concept of G-d often does not fit into any particular religious ideology. They take comfort in having a G-d of their understanding in their lives. This freedom of choice allows them to have a connection to a power greater than themselves.
Even those who have no belief in G-d feel at home in the rooms. For them, it is often the power of fellowship which is considered a Higher Power.
The only person who will have difficulty with the program is the one who thinks they are G-d. Arrogance will feed many of our character defects and hold us back from true sobriety.
Personal Reflection: What is my relationship with my Higher Power?
At countless meetings people talk about the miracle of their sobriety. Many of them were under the influence of substances for years and sometimes decades. Almost all of them had repeatedly made attempts to put down their drug of choice. Usually these attempts had ended in relapse. Yet today there are millions of people in AA, NA and OA who are clean and sober. Many of these people will attest to the fact that they no longer have a desire, to drink, use or binge. How we account for this lifting of their obsession to use? If you query them, most will attribute this fact to their Higher Power. They will restate that often quoted phrase, “G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. At their core, all 12 step programs rely on a deep connection to a Higher Power. We each have our own concept of that Higher Power. We believe a Higher Power is fundamental to recovery; even if it is the power of the group.
This level of belief helps us on a daily basis to cope with the challenges of life. If a Higher Power has helped us reach this far, we have confidence that He will have our backs regardless of what the future may hold.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to call upon my Higher Power today?
Our comfort level was sorely tested when we became members of AA, NA or OA. What particularly irked us was this G-d thing. The first step we could live with. We admitted our lives were unmanageable and we were powerless over our substance of choice. Then you hit us with step two and three which referenced a Higher Power and G-d. We found this G-d thing problematic because our experiences with this concept had not been positive. Some of us had been brought up with religious training that had been forced down our throats. While our friends were outside playing, we were stuck inside learning about some stuffy religious ideas. Then there were those of us who had been subjected to the idea that we were sinful and that G-d was a punishing and vengeful Deity. When we asked questions about why G-d allowed so much pain and suffering in the world we were at best met with silence or at worst punished for being so rebellious.
Over time we learned that our Higher Power could be anything we wanted. He could even be the power of the group. No one judged or criticized us regarding how we viewed G-d. When we started to call upon the G-d of our understanding, we began to draw comfort from that fact. Our relationship with a Higher Power helped contribute to our sobriety.
Personal Reflection: How does my relationship with a Higher Power contribute to my sobriety?
Many people in the program were extremely successful in their given careers. Among us you will find lawyers, doctors, CEO’s, architects and other professionals. We were highly regarded by our colleagues in our respective fields. A good part of our success was due to discipline and hard work. That was why it baffled us when it came to our drug of choice. How could we be so successful in our professional life; and yet when it came to a drug, alcohol or food we constantly relapsed. We had so much self directed will in one area of our life and yet in another we did not.
Many of us entered the program because of this very paradox. Early on we learned that our experience was actually quite average among addicts and alcoholics. When it came to our drug of choice, we needed to accept that willpower alone would not help us break our endless cycle of use and remorse. We accepted that we were indeed powerless over alcohol, drugs or food. We needed to turn to a “power greater than ourselves” for assistance. For some, that power was their home group or sponsor. For many, we had a true spiritual awakening and recognized the role of a Higher Power in removing our obsession to use.
Personal Reflection: Do I need to let go of my will in some area of my life?