“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
- we “came to believe” – not we “were completely brainwashed”
- it’s a “power greater than ourselves” – not Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc. - just a power greater than ourselves or, as it says somewhere else “the God of our understanding”
- what we aim for is sanity – not slimness, sobriety, lack of cravings, etc. It's much bigger than that
- we’re looking for restoration.
Have you ever heard that OA and other fellowships are like a cult? You probably have. Let me tell you it’s not, not, not, and if you come across the odd group that feels like that, then it’s not a fellowship as it is described in the Big Book. But in the beginning, a small but powerful corner of my mind was convinced that this God stuff was about brainwashing, just like in a cult. That any moment now, as soon as they gained my trust, one of those 12-step groupies was going to pounce on me with the “right” version of God, and I’d just have to accept it (or at least pretend I do) or leave the group.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am that this never happened. The groups I participate in are accepting, loving and tolerant towards any and all versions of Higher Power, and really, no-one sees a great need to name or describe that Higher Power in much detail. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have lasted longer than 6 months tops.
“But who IS this Higher Power,” you may ask. “The God of your understanding,” is the answer. Yes, but who is THAT? The answer is, only you can know. Which is part of the “came to believe”. For me, it started out as a sort of entity that I had wrestled with for many years, one that had benevolence and intelligence, and one that needed to be connected, in some way, with the God of my childhood, because I had realized how strong that force was, and that I had no need to completely topple that one over. But it was all somewhat vague, intellectual and just a bit unsatisfactory. From listening to more experienced OA members, I saw that some of them had an intimate, dynamic and I would almost say glowing relationship with their Higher Power.
After 2 years in OA (actually, when I was doing my first WTS study), I finally took the oft-heard advice to make a written list of what I need my Higher Power to be. Within a month, that Higher Power appeared. And because it is a dynamic relationship, it changes. One of the things I needed from my Higher Power was that there would be absolutely no sarcasm, threats or ultimatums. Now when I hear those things inside me, I know it’s not my Higher Power.
If have yet to hear of someone NOT benefitting from writing that list!
Writing that list and establishing a living, dynamic relationship with our Higher Power is part of the “came to”. And the “coming to” happens over and over and over again. One of the things I love about OA is the chance to mature our understanding of the 12 steps on an ever deeper level. That, too, is “coming to”.
And then we have the concept of sanity. That’s what we’re looking for! Last step, when we looked at the triggers for overeating, many of them had little to do with food. Our relatives, anger, loneliness, irritating bosses, etc. drive us insane! (Or so it seems; really, it’s our mind that drives us insane) Oh, yes, and of course there is the food, too. Looking at a bakery display, hanging out at a buffet – that stuff makes us insane.
There’s nothing wrong with eating. We need to eat. It’s how, what, when, where, why and with whom we eat that’s insane. Which is why the dieting usually doesn’t help. I once saw a truly great nutritionist (she’s a consultant with one of our biggest sports teams now, that’s how good she is). She gave me excellent advice regarding food. But that wasn’t my problem. My problem was my deep-rooted insanity, one that could be helped by her or even the two internationally acclaimed therapists I was seeing.
Step 2 points to the 3-legged stool of recovery: Physical (the physical cravings), emotional (responding to the triggers) and spiritual (the deep-rooted insanity). “There it is, your recovery” says Step 2, “would you like to have it?”
Would you like to reclaim your birthright of sanity? Do you want to recover your sanity? Do you want to be restored?
Our questions for today:
What are at least 5 things you would like your Higher Power to have/be/do? Or if you already have a good relationship with your Higher Power, what are 5 aspects of your Higher Power that work particularly well for you?
Write or print your “wish list” on a piece of paper and carry it with you. Look at it a few times a day. What do you observe? Or if you already have a Higher Power with great attributes, write at least 5 of them on that piece of paper, look at it and observe.
What is at least one physical, one emotional and one spiritual aspect that feels insane right now?
What might your restored, sane life look like? Go ahead, dream!
And once again, if you can, please read a little in the Big Book. Chapter 4, “We Agnostics”, is the one corresponding to Step 2. I really like pages 45 and 46, for example
"Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek.”
What passage in the Big Book speaks to you?
Looking forward to your shares!
Top of Page
Once again, let me just reflect a bit on this week, and share some more of my ESH.
On the wish list
We are so similar! I want to be loved, to be listened to, I want to be in a world where I can trust and feel connected – and so do you and you and you. I really like the idea of “terminal uniqueness” that is often talked about in program. That used to be a real problem for me, too. “But I am different!” is something I’d often think or even say out loud. That was some sort of shield that would give me weight and protection (just like the fat around and inside me.) Seeing that I had a lot of similarities with others is something that surprised and relieved me and made me more trusting. Again, the only way this can happen is when we share with each other, in places like this, on the phone with other members, with our sponsors and in meetings. (Four tools here, btw: Writing, telephone, sponsorship and meetings.)
On Higher Power in the Big Book
Personally, I need to read the Big Book as a historical document. I need to place it in context of the times. That was a time when African Americans could not go to the same school as their lighter-skinned peers, when “God” meant the Christian God, when women were supposed to obey their husbands. I am also noticing the many discussions in 12-step programs (not just OA and AA) about the possibility of rewriting the Big Book, or replacing some words and phrases. I am extremely grateful that this doesn’t matter very much to me. I have opened my heart to the miracle that program is, and if there are a few things that irk me, I’ll just ignore them. I am convinced of the goodness of the message, and have learned to be tolerant of the words that are used to carry it. And you know what, I have to send this little paragraph to a good friend of mine who started program quite a few years before I did. Once she played me a program tape and within 5 minutes of “listening” to it, I asked her to stop it because I was affronted by the words and tone the speaker used. Now, when I spontaneously say something to her that is very similar to what was mentioned on that tape, she kills herself laughing ? So – I’ve learned to listen to the message, not the words.
Before I came to program, I spent tons of time fantasizing. I had years-long relationships with guys – in my head. I’m not kidding. I’d also fantasize about being interviewed on TV, about saying incredibly smart things to people who I imagined weren’t thinking well enough of me, etc., etc. A certain feel is attached to that fantasy place, and it’s not good – dank, dark, grotty and above all, secret in a shameful way. One of the many miracles that happened for me in program is that I realized the difference between that dark fantasy place and the bright place of dreams. Dreams, to me now, are of two sorts. One is things that I just – well, dream about. They may come true or not, and I’m just having fun. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to Tuva, a small country South of Siberia, but it’s fun to dream about it. The other sort are dreams that I take very seriously. “If you want it, go for it!” my Higher Power seems to say about those dreams. It took me a while to take in that my HP really meant it. Which is, for example, why we just moved in to a dream house a few months ago. And why I keep saying that I’ll have my PhD by the time I’m 70. And I’m telling you about it! The biggest difference between the fantasies of my earlier life and today’s dreams is that they are not a shameful secret anymore.
That's it for this week!
The Twelve Steps