When I first came to OA, I had great difficulty with the concept of a power greater than myself in my life. To me, a power like that was God and God had done very little for me in my lifetime. I was raised in a religious home by parents who belonged to the Lutheran church. The God I grew up with didn't seem like such a nice guy. My image of God was of an older man in a long white beard sitting on a throne and watching me like a hawk to see what I was up to and marking down on a stone tablet everything I ever did wrong. I was taught by my grandmother to say my prayers in the morning and evenings and to also review my behavior of the day. I was supposed to go over what I had done wrong, admit them to my grandmother and to God and to beg forgiveness. Nothing was ever mentioned that I should forgive myself. I didn't, and I wasn't sure God did either. I carried my sins on my back for the rest of my life until I did my Step Four in OA.
What had God ever done for me? Many times I had gotten down on my knees and prayed fervently for God to please make me thin. My prayers to God were a long list of what I thought I should have in life. Then when God didn't show up with what was on my list, I dismissed him. So this God in my life was not someone I really wanted to depend upon. I stopped going to church in my early twenties and never went back for thirty years.
At my first OA meeting they kept mentioning God, and I didn't want any part of it, so I left only to return a few years later. This time I was able to open my mind a little more and listen to what others were saying. They were still mentioning God and I was still resisting, so I concentrated on the other parts of OA which I found tolerable. That attitude did not work, so I left OA again.
Twenty years later, I showed back up with a better attitude and a little more humility. OA was still mentioning God, but this time I noticed God could also be a Higher Power. That sounded a little better to me, so Higher Power it was. My first sponsor insisted I pray to my Higher Power whether I wanted to or not for the willingness to be abstinent from meal to meal. I did, and it worked so well that I thought this Higher Power thing was a miracle!
Taking action before believing allowed me to see and understand better a working concept of a God of my understanding. I had to redefine my image of God separate from the God I grew up with and abandoned. This process did take me a while to do as I looked for God "out there," but it was only when I sought a power greater than myself within that I found what worked for me. What I found deep within my heart was a spiritual strength that was separate from me as a person. This strength doesn't seem to be connected with any religion, but it does have a lot to do with spirituality. Any time I want that conscious contact with my Higher Power, I take a quiet moment and feel what is in my heart. That spiritual strength is a power greater than myself, and it is always, always available to me any time of the day and/or night. It doesn't matter where I am or what I am doing or who I am with, that power is there for me.
Once I found a power greater than myself, I had to begin to review the insanity of my disease of compulsive overeating. How did weighing 300 pounds most of my adult life and not being able to put down the food make me insane? According to the state of Ohio, I was not certifiably insane. No one had come and gotten me and taken me away. (Yet?) So what is my definition of insanity? Going out in the middle of a snowstorm and in the middle of the night to risk life and limb so I could get to the grocery store and find something worthwhile to eat? Eating out of the trash can because in a fit of anger I threw out the very food that I wanted? Eating food that was stale, burnt or had a definite odor of being spoiled? Eating certain sugar products knowing full well that I am a diabetic and if I eat too much of those products I would go into a coma and die? Hoarding my food from others because I did not want to share? What if I didn't have enough? Spending much more money than I had in my budget for food? Charging groceries on a credit card that was already maxed out? Yep, I had done all those things many times over. If I wanted food, I would get it, and nothing would stand in my way.
What about my life outside of food? How was I insane there? Does sitting in a small apartment for twelve years doing nothing but sleeping, eating, watching television and working qualify? All that isolation had definitely made me into a social phobic. I was also too afraid to go to college (not smart enough), too afraid to get a better job (no one would hire me), and too afraid to reach out to anyone else on earth because I was sure that no one would listen to anything I had to say. This type of thinking gave me an anxiety disorder. Somewhere in my thirties I began to develop all kinds of phobias. I had a phobia of crossing bridges, going through tunnels and riding elevators. A phobia of heights (I live high up on a hill), a phobia of driving long distances (anything over ten minutes was long distance) and a telephone phobia kept me crazy. I had panic attacks if a phobia went on for too long. Eventually I had to be put on medication as I was unable to function much at all. Yep, I was insane whether the state of Ohio thought so or not.
My next step was to believe that this spiritual strength I called Higher Power could step in and take over the very things I could not control, namely my food and my life. I didn't have the faith that a Higher Power could and would do this for me, but I had hope. At meetings I listened carefully to what the members with good recovery were saying. They all seemed to depend on this Higher Power to help them stay abstinent and with other things in their lives. So, if a power greater than they would help them, wouldn't mine help me?
I began to take action, whether I believed or not. As I said earlier, my sponsor insisted I pray for willingness to be abstinent from meal to meal, and I was abstinent. This was the first indication that a Higher Power really could come into my life and take over. If a power greater than myself could control my eating between meals, what else could this Higher Power do for me? I wanted to find out, so I forged ahead with working the Twelve Steps of OA.
You might not have faith, but do you have hope? Are you ready to forge ahead with working the steps?
Love in recovery,
Second Step Prayer:
Higher Power, I know in my heart that only You can restore me to sanity. I humbly ask that You remove all twisted thought and addictive behavior from me this day. Heal my spirit and restore in me a clear mind.
Principle of Step Two:
In Step Two, we learned the principle of hope as we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This same hope will now need to underlie all our actions. Even in our loneliest hours, we can remind ourselves of the great truth that we are not alone; even in our weakest moments we will find the strength we need if we believe it is available to us and ask for it.
The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
of Overeater's Anonymous: Page 104
To help comprehend the questions, please read The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Read the chapter on Step Two, then answer the questions, go back and reread the Step Two chapter and add onto your answers if needed.
To prepare for working Step Two, you might want to read the following chapters in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: Bill's Story, There is a Solution, More about Alcoholism and We Agnostics.
1. How have I been insane where food is concerned? With my eating behaviors? With dieting or weight loss schemes?
2. Have I been insane outside of food? At home with family? At work? Isolation and/or social life? Do I have phobias? Or anxiety disorder? Or depression?
3. Define the God of your understanding before recovery.
4. Write up a description of what you want a Higher Power to be and do for you in your life.
5. Does the God of your understanding match the description of the Higher Power you need? Which would work better for you? Can you let go of your old ideas about God that do not work? Can you replace those ideas with a faith that does work?
6. Are you willing to take the action that others have said worked for them? What action will you take?
Realize that no one is telling you what to do in program. Whatever directions you receive, they are suggestions only and it is up to you whether you follow through or not. We each work our own individual programs. My sponsor lovingly reminds me that a suggestion is like telling a person jumping from a plane they MAY need a parachute. So, keeping that in mind, it is suggested that you:
1. Find a sponsor, if you do not already have one, to help guide you and to listen to you while you are working through the steps and beyond. When sending in your answers to the step questions, send a copy to your sponsor also. If you do not have a sponsor, you will find directions in getting a sponsor at this link: www.therecoverygroup.org/sponsors.html
2. This is an excellent chance to do your 90 meetings in 90 days while also working through the steps in 90 days. When I first became abstinent, the 90 & 90 suggestion really helped support me through those first fragile days.
3. Get a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous along with The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of OA. Both will be a huge benefit to you. To get a copy, visit www.oa.org or visit your local face to face meeting.
4. Keep on file your answers to all step questions, as you will need to refer back to them in Steps Five through Nine.
5. Remember, you are not alone in this. Reach out to other members and your sponsor to help you through difficult sharing.
6. If you have a question, please type in the subject line of your reply: "Question" and I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you!