i’d been an alcoholic for over 2 decades before i first heard the expression “Liquid Courage”, but after i did i couldn’t believe i’d never heard it before. Let’s just say i didn’t need subtitles to understand what it meant.
Lately things have been improving concerning that and here’s why.
- i learned early on that i had to give up my life to my Higher Power because when i was driving the bus, i drove it straight to Hell and got lost there. Giving the wheel to my Higher Power means i have nothing to fear because the HP is in charge. (For agnostics, just remember “The future is none of your business“. )
- On my sponsor’s instructions, i share at every AA meeting i go to (3 a week, usually). The more i share in front of a group of people, the less tense i am about it.
- i’m able to recognize the symptoms of fear and when i do i’m getting better at consciously telling myself to chill. Breathing deep is a big help when it comes to this.
The reason i’m going on about this is that i’ve only just learned these lessons and only have made significant progress with them in the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, because i think the girl i have a crush on has been avoiding my regular meetings because she had a crush on me too, but when i didn’t make a move she assumed i didn’t feel the same way so she’s given up. Which is sad but not tragic. i keep reminding myself that i can’t lose something i never had, and that sometimes rejection is God’s protection.
Still, i do wish i’d been braver sooner, and hope that the universe has some second chances left in its deep pockets.
Religion is for people who’re afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.
-Vine Deloria, Jr
This quote is by Native American Vine Deloria, Jr and parallels my thoughts exactly concerning the difference between God and a Higher Power. This is not to say that God cannot be a Higher Power, it’s more to the point that we in AA don’t have to choose a classic conception of God to get better. We are free to find our own Higher Power outside of organized religion if we like. I’ve defined my own God, and my God giggles.
i got the message. You can stop now.
Al K Hall
PS Let’s do lunch some time.
Here’s my BIG problem. The third time the plumber came he found the leak. He fixed it, left, and… The fourth time the plumber came was the charm.
Two nights ago i found a different leak in a different place from a different source. My Higher Power has a sick sense of humor.
The same two nights ago, the Devil sent her daughter to come upstairs and complain about my son’s practicing guitar at 9:30pm. My plumbing problems are on their way out, so i’ve decided to obsess over the insane woman who lives below me. To make this my BIG problem.
i always have a BIG problem. i used to think it was the problems’ fault, but now i realize it’s my fault. Instinctively, i scan my problems and elect one lucky one to become my BIG problem.
Listening to shares at an AA Meeting last night, everything fell in to place (Thank you, Universe, for guiding me to that meeting). i remembered what i’m forgetting: to let go. To give these problems up to my Higher Power when i have no control over them.
So, i’m giving up. i’m giving up my problems to my Higher Power, giving up the stress, the worry, the obsession to the Universe and i’m going to let the Universe worry about it–or not–if it wants but it doesn’t matter to me because it is not my problem any more. i’ve given them up and given up on them.
Hear that, Universe?
For those of us in AA: This is all 3rd Step stuff.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The good news for us lucky alcoholics in recovery is that “Our Lives” include “Our Problems”. We get to give away all our concerns until the only worry we have left is how to stop worrying over nothing.
Fair warning, i’m working on Step 6 in Alcoholics Anonymous and so my next few posts will be about that.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
WTH? Defects of character, moi? What defects of character?
One of the things i like most about AA is that there is a clear, practical program to get better. It’s as easy as connecting the dots.
Here’s a short Step By Step refresher course of how i got here.
In Step 1 of AA’s 12 Steps, i admitted my life had become unmanageable because of my inability to handle my drinking.
In Step 2, i said that i obviously couldn’t control my drinking, so a power outside myself was going to have to. My Sponsor and i decided this “Higher Power” was AA Meetings.
In Step 3, i turned over control of my drinking and life to this power.
In Step 4, i made a list of all the deepest, darkest defects of my character and the actions these defects led me to.
In Step 5, i went over this list with another person (my AA Sponsor).
Now, in Step 6, i’m letting my Higher Power know that i’m ready to give these up to him/her/them/us.
One of the main tenets of recovery is that the addict is not able to control their own drinking (or gambling, or binging/purging, or drugging, or sex addiction…), otherwise they would control it and there would be no addiction problem. Because we addicts are not able to control this aspect of our lives, we have to give control of that area to someone / thing who can; this entity is often referred to as a Higher Power, or a “power greater than ourselves”.
But what about those people who cannot find their Higher Power?
What follows are my suggestions for those who are struggling with the concept of a Higher Power.
10 Ways for an Agnostic to Find God
- Stop looking
- Listen to the silence
- Create something from nothing
- Write a mental list of at least 3 people you love, and why you love them
- Do a totally anonymous act of kindness
- Decide what you want most, then think about it until your heart hurts
- Hold hands with someone (two people works best, one on each side)
- Talk to someone with less experience than you
- Apologize out loud to someone you love
- Do something that makes you deliciously happy
When you have done all of these ten things, put a face on how you feel (note: it doesn’t have to be a person’s face).
The next time you need God, think of that face.
When you can’t see that face anymore, go back to step 1.
These past few weeks have caught me in a place i’d promised myself i’d never go again. On my knees.
i was very religious in another life. i was president of my church’s youth group and preached a sermon before a congregation of 200 odd people. Then i became disenfranchised with the hypocrisy of organized religion and converted to agnosticism. i wouldn’t bother God if he wouldn’t bother me.
AA has strong religious overtones. Fortunately for me, here in Yeaman, the Christian aspect of the program isn’t stressed so much as giving up control of your life to a Higher Power of your own choosing. One of the guys says his Higher Power is Bus #59 because that’s the bus that brings him to the meeting room.
After my religious falling out, i have surprisingly little difficulty accepting a Higher Power. i tried controlling everything for 28 years and i screwed my life up royally. For me, the key is in that sentiment: a Higher Power is a power outside yourself that can “restore you to sanity”.
So every morning i get on my knees, in a very physical and real way, and i pray for guidance to a power outside myself and Higher than i ever was in my drinking life.