Dear Fellow Travelers,
Step Two Essay
"We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. 'Do I now believe,
or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?'
As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe,
we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly
proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective
spiritual structure can be built."
"This was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of
spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith which seemed
difficult to believe." (AA Big Book, page 47)
If we have been thorough in writing out our Step One and our history of
compulsive overeating, then we will probably have no real difficulty with
identifying recovery from compulsive overeating as a return to sanity. The
crazy diet schemes, wasted money, ruined relationships, eating until it hurt
and then eating more anyway, medical complications from obesity; these all
provided ample evidence that our lives had been a bit insane. That we
continued eating despite knowing what we were doing to ourselves, provided
even more. No honest appraisal of our pasts could lead us to any other
This brings our focus back to the heart of the step. Many of us have
walked out of OA meetings vowing never to return as a result of the talk
about God and on spirituality and Powers greater than ourselves. Some never
did return. Others returned only when they had exhausted all other remedies
and were desperate enough to give it one more chance. Still others were
grateful to find that our program of recovery had a spiritual basis.
For those who came to OA already believing in a Higher Power, this step
was much easier but not without difficulty. Having faith in a Higher Power
was one thing, but coming to believe that this Power would restore them to
sanity was not always so easy. They thought, "It's only food, right? Surely
God has more important things to take care of than my eating disorder."
This thought usually kept them, for some period of time, trying to control
their eating by use of their willpower alone and it often took many failed
attempts before they finally gave up and decided to ask their Higher Power
To those who don't believe in a God, this step may seem insurmountable
but on careful examination, it doesn't have to be nearly as difficult as it
appears. Those who are squeamish in this area have usually read ahead to
the next step where the word "God" is prominently mentioned. However, Step
Two doesn't ask us to believe in a God, it merely states what has probably
already happened. We came to believe than a Power greater than ourselves
could restore us to sanity.
This is a presumption that could probably use an explanation because
I'm sure there are those of you who are protesting that this hasn't already
happened to you. But hasn't it? Have you gone to more than one OA meeting?
Or have you signed on to these loops for the second, third, or even
fiftieth time? Why? Maybe you came here the first time out of curiosity.
Maybe the second time was even to make sure you heard it correctly the first
time. But why now? Why are you here? Would you have bothered signing on
if you hadn't begun to believe that by doing so it would somehow or in some
way help you with your compulsion to overeat?
When we refuse to believe, we are possibly only refusing to believe in
that preconceived definition we brought from our childhoods or refusing to
believe in certain organized religions. But our recovery doesn't require
that we believe in anything beyond what is written in the step itself. We
will learn in the study of future steps that we are free to define our own
Higher Power and that we can apply the principles of this program to a God
of our own choosing or understanding. Hopefully this will help you lay
aside any prejudices you are having against the notion of a Power greater
If you are here because you think this program will help, then you have
done enough of Step Two to have made a good beginning. Without a seed of
faith, you wouldn't have come back and wouldn't continue to keep coming back
as you have been. Many agnostics or atheists accepted OA or the meetings
themselves as their Higher Power in the beginning. Some have maintained
this definition, others allowed it to evolve into different forms. But all
people who make it in this program of recovery have one thing in common, and
that is a willingness to believe and an open-mindedness about spiritual