I am not quite sure if this is going to sound right, too many thoughts swirling, but I will give it a try:
“If it cannot be measured, it does not exist.” Although I never put it in these words, or thought about it much, I have lived most of my life under this mantra. It has served me well in the work I do, not so well with my development as a spiritual individual.
I have never embraced religion or God, given my above statement it is probably not hard for you to figure out why. I cannot say I am a disbeliever, just that most of it didn’t make sense to me. Sure, I would even “pray” at times, usually in a selfish manner to get what I wanted. “If you get me out of X, I promise not to do Y again”. I simply never understood it. Unfortunately, I think many believers are now so focused on acceptance of their God or religion that people like me miss the point, miss what they really have that I do not. That would be faith, being able to believe that something outside of yourself is in control – a Higher Power in the AA terms. When I put it like this I can understand it more, the God or religion is a useful tool to put things outside of yourself, maybe it is the best tool.
My inability to understand this tool and its true function, or to find a suitable replacement other than Alcohol, has cheated me out of having faith, and only believing that it was myself who could find the right way to live. Sure, I thought I had “faith”, the false type that said “This will all work out.” But only by my debugging it, my quantifying it, my figuring it out, and my solving it, in my timeframe, to get exactly the outcome I wanted. Not only is this thinking incredibly self centered, it is an incredible amount of pressure to put on yourself, which only drove me further into the abyss. I am beginning to understand that my recovery (not just with alcohol) depends on giving this up to something outside of myself.
Having heard some others in AA speak, I know I am not alone when I say that AA’s outside reputation of being a “religious thing” was a barrier, one which is now softening. A topic at yesterdays meeting was the “Higher Power.” The HIgher Power of many was God and religion, and for many others it was something else – the group met all beliefs with acceptance. I am understanding that what is important is that we need to give up control to something outside of ourselves. Maybe someday I will use God and religion as a tool for achieving this, maybe not, for now it doesn’t matter as long as the understanding continues to creep in.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity for practice today. My wife and I are (obviously) going through problems and although we are working on things, she keeps stating that we still might separate or that we won’t be together forever. I woke this morning wanting to accost her: “So, what is your timeframe?”, “What happens next?”, “What do I do to make you stop saying this?”, “Give me the rules, the timeframe, the desired outcome so I can fix this!”, etc. Before I opened my dumb mouth, I thought twice and gave this up to my Higher Power; which for me right now is some nebulous mix of nature, spirits (not of the alcoholic type), the AA group, and other people – it really doesn’t matter as long as I am not trying to solve it myself. It will work out, maybe not with my desired outcome, it will not be done on my time. I just need to keep doing the right things and some other power will decide the outcome. This type of thinking is actually a great relief.
Really as I look back on what I wrote, the serenity prayer says it all:
God, grant me the serenity,
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.