“One of the things that I have struggled with during my many years of participation in AA and NA is what some of us call “the god stuff.” The references to religion, spirituality, God, and Higher Power are everywhere in the literature and the culture of AA. Even in the best efforts of the folks back in the 1930s, the “Chapter to the Agnostic” pretty much assumes that as soon as you start to come out of your addiction, and into the light, you will happily go back to some concept of God, albeit not necessarily the God of your childhood.” ~ HANJE RICHARDS, “The God Stuff.”
The “God Stuff” has been the hardest concept for me to grasp in my Alcoholics Anonymous program, followed by the concept of being powerless. The first A.A. meeting I attended in treatment was on Step One, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” I actually said “I’m a feminist and am not powerless over anything.” This was after almost dying and being in a coma for two weeks, physical therapy for another two weeks, and in the mental health unit for a week; all due to a suicide attempt while intoxicated. If you want to V8 slap me in the forehead for the absurdity of my statement on that first meeting, I agree. That, my friends, is the insanity of alcoholism.
This brings me to “The God Stuff”. Step Two is “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”, and Step Three is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
My spiritual path is eclectic; a little Buddhism, some Hindu, a bit of Islam, some Wicca, a little Judaism, and a splash of the Christianity I was taught growing up as an Episcopalian. In short, I am a Unitarian Universalist who believes one should build their own spiritual path, and do their own dishes.
In “the rooms” we often talk about a “God of our own understanding”, with a big G, and all meetings I’ve been to across the U.S. end with “The Lord’s Prayer.” Although the Big Book also speaks of a “power greater than ourselves” and “Higher Power,” there is a lot of He, Him, Lord and God (all capitalized). It’s very cringe inducing for atheists, but also for people like me who believe in a power greater than myself that is not patriarchal.
As part of my “neighborhood” exercise yesterday, I was looking at blogs under the tag “Unitarian Universalist” and the first post I came across was “The God Stuff”. My God embracing AA friends would call my stumbling upon this post “A God thing”. I call it serendipity.
In this post, Hanje introduced me to We Agnostics & Free Thinkers International AA Convention, which he attended.
As I have said, I have come to believe in a power greater than myself, but don’t have a name for it. The God talk in the rooms can be overwhelming. I do pray and meditate and have found life easier if I give my will over. Somedays I pray to Mother Nature, others Great Spirit, sometimes Creator, other times Universe, occasionally God, and many times “Hey, You!”
It is comforting to know that there are bloggers like Hanje out there who participate in A.A. but are not God thumpers. AA is an easier, softer way for me to live after spending a decade in and out of recovery rejecting 12 step programs. But I have also loved reading other WordPress blogs by people who do not participate in AA or NA but have long-term sobriety. Jon Sleeper is one such writer.
Just like my spirituality, my recovery support comes from a variety of sources including A.A. but also Health Realization, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Women for Sobriety. I’m getting over the god stuff, but that mostly is because I began thinking of God as Group of Drunks (those in AA who had what I wanted) and now think of God as Give Orderly Direction. I may not know if there is anything beyond you and me, and if there is what to call it. All I do know is that my program works, if I work it.