Many people that first come in to twelve step based meetings are fearful of the word God. Myself included. We first come in and there are slogans on the wall that mention God. “Let Go, Let God” for example, or “But For The Grace Of God”. For me, speaking only from my personal experience, this scared me. I thought, “Is this a cult? See? I knew it was all religious.” I was raised where my father was an atheist, my mother agnostic, and they sent me to Catholic school. So as you can imagine, I was a little confused about the whole God thing. I now know that all of this fear for me was the fear of the unknown.
At first when I came in, I looked at the twelve steps and thought, “Ok, that one says God, that one says God, that one says God…. So, I am not doing those ones, I will do the others. I was sort of cherry picking which steps I was willing to do. I then started hearing that I just had to believe that a power greater than myself COULD restore me to sanity. So, I just had to believe that there may be something out there that is greater than me. They said if you have a problem with the word God, just say a higher power. They said use the program as your higher power. This I could wrap my head around. Alcoholic’s Anonymous was started by two alcoholics and now has millions of sober members. That is definitely a power greater than myself. I look outside and see the trees, or that it is raining or maybe there is a rainbow. I didn’t do any of these things. These things around me are all from a power greater than myself. Really everything that happens around me, are all from something greater than me.
My sponsor told me that there is no such things as coincidences. Many people say that these are called “God Shots”. Things started happening in my life that I could not deny anymore. When I was doing the next right thing, good things were happening, and I had nothing to do with them. I believed these to be from a Higher Power. For years I thought that the world revolved around me, that I was God. I was told early on in sobriety that the most important thing about having a higher power is just to know that YOU are not God. When I finally surrendered to fighting that there was no God, my life changed. I figured that I was the manager of my own life for years, and that did not turn out so well. So, why not let a power greater than me now be the manager of my life. I became open minded and I had a new found peace. I learned to pray to this higher power. It took practice. This did not happen overnight. What was happening was that when I prayed, it took me out of myself. It gave me the pause that I needed. The pause to quiet my mind. When I am connected to this power is when I am the most at peace.
Just because the word God is mentioned, or Higher Power, does not mean that these twelve step programs are religious. Because they are not. If you are religious, you can certainly use that for your faith in recovery. However, it is not necessary to be religious to be successful in recovery. All that you need is to find a God (or Higher Power) of YOUR understanding. Whatever you want to believe in. Just as long as it’s not just you anymore. Your God and my God do not have to be the same thing. I could not explain to you exactly what my higher power is and that’s o.k. I may never fully understand what my higher power is. It is just something that I can feel. My God is an experiential God. I have felt and seen things that make me believe. I have experienced my own higher power and it has been the most important element in the success of my recovery.