this is Isabella. I'm a compulsive overeater, and a food addict. I am slowly recovering by the grace of my Higher Power and through the power of this fellowship.
Today, we'll deal with step 11.
**** "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge or His will for us and the power to carry that out." ****
I think what I'll do this time is use a bit of structure. For each of the quotations that spoke to me in the OA 12x12, I will give you a snippet each of experience, strength and hope.
May it be of service to you.
(And since there is so much "God talk" in this step, I invite to you PLEASE remember that this is the God of Your Understanding, your Higher Power whoever, whatever she/it/he is/are. Where I'm using God because I'm doing it well, because "God" is a precious name to me.)
I'll start with a part of the step itself, "praying only for knowledge or His will for us and the power to carry that out."
Experience: A 20th century satirist once said that to pray was "to ask that the laws of the Universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy." The absurdity of ‘asking that the laws of the universe be annulled' on my behalf was always clear to me. Before OA, then, what I knew to call prayer usually happened only when I was in dire straights, for example, when I'd wake up from a nightmare.
Strength: In OA, our prayers don't consist of a 150-pound weight loss within three months or a Rolls Royce for Christmas. I only ask to understand and carry out God's will. Thus, my prayers are in harmony with "the laws of the Universe."
Hope: That I will learn to trust this harmony more and more.
"We can each recover through a spiritual relationship with a Power which is greater than ourselves alone." p. 91
E: Before I came to OA, the idea of a Higher Power helping me deal with my food was nowhere to be seen or felt. Even though I had spent all my life aware of and involved with a Higher Power, the thought that it could help me with my food and weight never crossed my mind.
S: Every time I humbly ask my Higher Power to help, I receive guidance. Every time.
H: That I increase the times I ask for help, and the times I follow the guidance.
"A freedom we've come to appreciate and even treasure: the freedom to encounter this healing force directly and express our beliefs however we choose." p. 92
E: The desire for this freedom was there all my life. Before OA, again, I just never made the connection between freedom and God. God was either a very abstract entity or a version of the guy with the long beard up in the skies. A healing force? In principle, maybe, but it had little do to with me. And this God was certainly not interested in my freedom.
S: Through this program, I am learning on a day-to-day, palpable level that God wants me to be free and whole. In my conversations with my Higher Powers, they tell and show me over and over again that they only want the best for me, that they are infinitely patient, that they are willing to accommodate all my little dysfunctional idiosyncrasies. There is no punishing "If you don't do this, then -!" It's always "Well, you do whatever you feel you need to do. Just keep in mind that if you do X, it's quite possible that Y will happen. And whatever you do, we're behind you." That works very well for me, otherwise I would run screaming.
H: That one day I will truly understand this gift of freedom so well that I will completely and unreservedly give myself to my Higher Powers.
"What do we do when we talk with God? We say whatever we feel like saying." p. 93, "We need complete freedom to express our honest feelings in any situation." p. 94 and "We go ahead and express our anger, but we keep on talking to God." p. 95
E: This is something that I understood before OA, however, because of a lack of trust in God, I didn't often act on it and when I did I'd often feel uncomfortable, even guilty.
S: In spoken prayer, I just let ‘er rip now. I can be silly, angry, irreverent, irrelevant, it doesn't matter. The God of my understanding and I know that eventually, I'll come around and ask for God's will, no more, no less. That means I can talk all I want about the Rolls Royce for Christmas, God doesn't have a problem with that. Only when it comes to asking, the least I need to do is to say, "God, pleeeeeeease give me that Rolls Royce but whatever happens, Thy Will Be Done." (Of course a more mature version of that would be, "God, I need to ask you a question is it Thy will that I keep hankering for that Rolls Royce?")
H: "We say whatever we feel like saying" to me that means that I can also go beyond the "saying". I can have prayer in my life everywhere not just in my words but also in my thoughts, feelings, and acts. Especially in my acts. I'd like to incorporate this sacred connection into more of my life I'd like to feel like I'm praying when I do the dishes. Or more a propos: My hope is that one day I'll be in prayer each time I eat.
"Meditation is - the art of sitting still and opening our hearts to receive spiritual nourishment." p. 96
E: That prayer and meditation could be a way of RECEIVING rather than DOING was completely alien to me. Self will, right? I have to do it all myself, God is the great executive somewhere else. I was only dimly and theoretically aware of the great interconnectedness of people, places and things. I head read about it but it was as related to me personally as higher math.
S: I am still in awe and barely comprehending the idea of receiving. I find it pretty easy in prayer (see below) as long as there is some sort of conversation, I can hear or rather feel/intuit God's word.
H: I have a hunch that if I manage to realize ooops, if God gives me the gift of realizing - that I have the choice to look upon everything as carrying God's seed, that it might be easier for me to "receive". The internet is too slow? The gift of God in that is that I need to slow down. I want to have a hot chocolate even though I don't need one? The gift of God is - oh boy, that's hard, what is it? It's that it gets me to understand the power of compulsion.
"Eating compulsively was our chief means of relaxation." p. 96
E: I want(ed) the relaxation that comes with hot chocolate, and the whole mystique that goes with it. Winter evening, sitting beside a fireplace on a comfy sofa, maybe a big dog at my feet I want(ed) that feeling, and I want(ed) it now.
S: Now THERE is a gift of God wow! Ask and you shall receive! Boys and girls, that's amazing. In one paragraph I talk about the gift of God that comes in everything and right in the next paragraph, God gives me an insight. This, people, is how our Higher Powers work. You want some hot chocolate? "Eating compulsively WAS (did you hear that? *WAS *) your chief means of relaxation." But not anymore. There are so many other ways now. Going for a walk. Having a nap. Candle light. Baths. Getting enough sleep (I used to honestly think that the need for a certain amount of sleep was sort of a myth for wimps who don't have the stamina to stay up when they need to.)
H: What can I say, God, just keep it coming. Keep showing me your gifts.
(What I just said here also goes with this:
"A communication from God might be difficult for us to recognize - it may come - as a new idea or concept - as a change in our motives or attitudes - as a feeling that our energy has been renewed or our bad mood has been lifted - by the effect it has on us - through a feeling of encouragement and strengthening" p. 97
and this "Sponsors, OA friends, meetings and literature are wonderful sources of help for us - we often find God speaks to us through them." p. 98)
"Which thoughts are God's directions and which are our own rationalizations?" p. 96
E: This used to torment me quite a bit. I was plagued by the thought that
a) I was just making it all up; and
b) that God would give me impossible things to do.
S: One day it dawned on me that I could just talk to my Higher Power about that. Doh! Now I'm putting the logical pieces together:
1) My Higher Power loves me.
2) My Higher Power knows I'm human.
3) My Higher Power knows that communicating with me in human-like ways will work best for me.
4) In communicating with my Higher Power, I can therefore treat it like any other person in my life.
5) When I have a problem with someone in my life, I need to TELL them! As I said doh!
My Higher Power and I have now worked out a system that makes it quite easy for me to tell which is which. Part of it is that if there are any sarcasm or ultimatums, it's not my Higher Power speaking. That's not how a loving God speaks to a beloved.
H: My hope is that I can keep on talking with enthusiasm about this and be a resource for others who have problems with it.
"Asking God to increase our desire to take the action if we are supposed to take it, or decrease our desire if we're not supposed to take it." p. 97 and "After this prayer we stop worrying about making the decision right now and we wait a day or so, meanwhile keeping our eyes, ears and minds open. By the end of the waiting period we will inevitably find that we've gained a clearer perspective on the decision." p. 98
E: "But I need to do it NOW!" (= "the world will surely collapse if I don't make a decision right this second about whether to invite Uncle Ed to the wedding.") And stop worrying? By worrying I can show how seriously I take things, and worrying, curiously, can make me feel safe the way you feel safe in a prison because it's so small and impenetrable.
S: This is all about trust. I am learning that trust and freedom go together. If I trust that God will keep me away from that hot chocolate, I don't have to worry about what's going to happen in the next 20 minutes. I can freely go about the business of finishing this step, without being hampered or distracted by the chains of worry. One minute at a time, I can trust that my Higher Power is there for me. All I need to do is listen.
H: What's keeping me in worry and away from trust is fear. I pray that God lifts the character defect of fear from me.
*** Wow, that was an interesting experience, very in-the-moment. I hope you are getting as much out of it as I am.
So here are some things to play with:
Take a passage from step 11 in OA's 12x12 and share your experience, strength and hope around it. I've looked at ESH in terms of "how it was" (experience), "what my learning is" (strength) and "what I'll be working on" (hope). If that works for you, fine, but if you want to use a different interpretation for ESH that's cool, too.
What is it like for you to be RECEIVING in prayer or meditation, rather than DOING? If you have not experience with that, share your hope or worries.
Do you have a sense of what is your Higher Power's will for you?
How does your Higher Power help you have freedom?
How do you communicate with your Higher Power? How does your Higher Power communicate with you?
What passages in the OA 12x12 Step 11 stand out for you?
What footwork will you do in the next 24 hours?