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.
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.