Leader's Share and Step Questions
STEP TWO: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Thank you for all your hard work on Step One. I may not answer each one of you personally, but I don't miss a single share. I don't know about you, but last week I learned again that I am NOT powerless, but We WERE powerless. In the beginning of the Big Book the word 'powerless' is only used in the context of Step one.
I told my husband this morning that one of the most valuable lessons I learned the past six months is "to sit still, shut up and listen...". Also that The God Of My Understanding (GOMU) lives in the "MOMENT". So, while I sit still and 'listen' I can hear the quietness and in this quietness the whisper of my intuition.
Yesterday, late afternoon my husband asked me to come and sit with him on the porch. I didn't want to. I was feeling restless, driven to write Step Two for WTS… But I 'listened'. I sat there, quietly with him. I looked over the ocean, the mountains, listening to a helicopter going high up over our home. Saying nothing. Just sitting. The restlessness left and I felt such peace and quiet. Nearly tranquilising... God was there. God is here while I type with the house quiet and everybody left for work and school. What am I trying to say? Simply that GOD IS IN THE MOMENT, THE NOW, THIS VERY SECOND.
Back to step one: If I say that I'm powerless, I'm literally without God ~ GODLESS, and I know I'm not. Step One would then read - "we were Godless (powerless)..." WOW!!! This makes much more sense.
In step two we come to believe that there is a power. There must be… We see it in our fellows, sponsors and the first 100 alcoholics who recovered.
To COME TO is a process ~ this process involves a series of actions to achieve a desired result. This result is to find the source of power. Without accessing this source I cannot move forwards.
Now, we in this WTS study come from different age groups, countries, religions, backgrounds and genders… We share the same disease and can recognise the language of the heart, but finding a god of our own understanding is very personal and individual for each one of us. I will share a bit of my own experience, strength and hope (ESH) so that you can get a picture from where I come from regarding my own spirituality:
I grew up in a religious tradition in South Africa that can be described as Christian Protestant. As the second of four children, I was regarded as the religious one in our family and believed in God for as long back as my memory can take me. My life struggles (including my weight problem) were something I often prayed about and asked God to fix. Some of the challenges were solved, others not. I lost the weight more than once, but I always found it back within a short period of time. I believed. But I was also confused. In fellowship I learned that I cannot recover in isolation. I needed and found the WE of recovery. I “know” I'm no longer alone.
The God of my youth is the same HP of today even after four years and three months in programme. My awareness of God, as well as my perceptions changed gradually as I learned and experienced His power in my life and the lives of my fellows.
I had a few spiritual experiences that came with working the steps, most profoundly after working each Step Seven. I perceived connection with my Creator and how some of my shortcomings were either taken away or transformed. I knew God was there for me, that He had my back, that He loved me and that I could tap into His power at any time. I felt His presence and how His power and love filled me from the top of my head to my toes. Literally.
As time passed I learned to develop that intuitive voice that would give guidance when I did not know what direction or action to take. Sometimes I chose to ignore that voice and I could see in retrospect how it was my HP nudging me to stay clear from danger or wrong decisions. At other times I listened and experienced first hand miracles that can in no way be shrugged off as coincidence. In such times I know the GOMU is real.
When I feel far and disconnected from God, I know that I am the one who moved away. Usually I took power back, moved into the Director's position and did not make time to broaden my spiritual experience. Complacency is very dangerous to me. Also resentment, fear and self-centredness. I know that I need to stay connected to God, work the steps, and reach out to others to stay in a safe zone. When I draw close to God, He’s there... ALWAYS. Sometimes I get busy and distracted and then I pay a prize. I will land into stinkin thinkin, negativity and self-pity in a flash... I then move away from the WE of programme, back to I, I, I and ME.
For my own journey, I agree with the following that I read in this selection:
"Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time." (AABB 4th edition, page 567)
Like said before, I had these profound experiences after each Step Seven I worked and for me they were sudden, unexpected and profound, BUT most of my spiritual growth took place gradually over time, and often when I faced hardships.
So I’m a believer of the Christian faith with strong roots in the Jewish religion, because I believe in the God of the Jews too. I worked in an Islamic country the past two years and also years before and returned to my country three months ago. In Saudi Arabia I shared my office with colleagues that were all Muslim. When I saw their dedication, how they fasted and prayed five times a day, my mind was blown… BUT, programme taught me that our power is rooted in spirituality, not religion, even though exposure to other cultures opened up my mind.
I’m an agnostic regarding many religions ~ somehow confused. Can we all be right? Can we all be wrong? Who is right? What if I’m not right? My comfort is that 12-step way of living is not about religion, but spirituality and relationship.
I believe that God lives in my heart as my Highest Potential (HP) – I invited Him into my life more than 40 years ago… I read my spiritual literature, the Big Book, the AA 12 X 12, other literature, the ESH of others and I see this Creator/ HP/ Great Spirit/ God helps Jews, Muslims, Christians, atheists, agnostics, Hindi's, others – ALL OF US recover.
Step One revealed that no matter how hard we tried, we were not strong enough to deal with life, food, people, places and things in a healthy and moderate manner and especially NOT in our own power.
But I saw, spoke to, read about, and listened to many who became recovered. It was obvious that they found this miracle with HELP that was not of themselves. There had to be SOMETHING out there. Step Two leads us to belief.
The principle behind Step Two is HOPE:
Step Two 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.
Please, if you care to, pray the Step Aside Prayer (one of Stephanie's versions) with us:
God help me to set aside everything
I think I already know about YOU,
about the Big Book, about recovery,
about the steps, about myself, about ANYTHING.
God, help me to be teachable.
Help me to be humble, and help me to
put my ego where the sun doesn’t shine.
God, help me to do THY will, not mine,
in my attitudes, as well as my actions.
We read in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that that IT became too much for us:
Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now. (AABB page 59, [my emphasis])
IT can be certain foods, alcohol, fear, life, our health. Without help ________ is too much for us.
I made a mess out of my life and until I let God into my life I can do nothing about IT. With God we learn to live in the ANSWER, not in the QUESTION!!! The SOLUTION is the ANSWER and this is GOD.
So we sit with a dilemma (AA 12 and 12, page 25):
“THE moment they read Step Two, most A.A. newcomers are confronted with a dilemma, sometimes a serious one.”
What is this dilemma?
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. (AA BB page 45)
It is a crossroads where we humans are confronted with “came to believe” in SOMETHING. Who is this PERSON/IT we must come to believe in?
Some won't believe in God, others can't, and still others who do believe that God exists have no faith whatever that he will perform this miracle. (AA 12 & 12, page 25)
I have been the one that believes God exists - I thought I had faith, but I could not believe that the miracle was for me too, in other words I was (sort of) an agnostic to application. A very isolated one, I may add, until I found this fellowship.
…resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind. (AA 12 & 12, page 26)
Yes, I was intellectualizing "how it should work for me". I often landed in the paralysis of analysis and could not see the miracle in front of my eyes in all of it's simplicity.
Then I read about substitution in both the OA 12 and 12 and AA 12 and 12:
“…the method of substitution… You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'Higher Power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them.” (AA 12 & 12, page 27)
I have never used the 'substitution’ method, because for me it was always the GOMU, my Creator (even if this GOD often felt far away). I was puzzled with how He could he be bothered with me if I'm one of billions on this planet and with a small problem like ‘weight’ where millions fight for food. Also, to 'substitute' God felt like blasphemy... Or maybe not? Is God not present in each one of us, even in myself? Did I not invite Him into my life as a child? This means my HP lives inside me... This means that I can reach for my Creator deep within myself each time crisis strikes, or when I'm in need of His wisdom, assurance, presence AND POWER!
By this I understand that our own concept of a Higher Power can be sufficient to work the 12 steps and recover from compulsive overeating. And this is the miracle of programme!
Even this minimum of faith will be enough… [once] crossed the threshold… their faith broadened and deepened. (AA 12 & 12, page 27 - 28)
Religion says the existence of God can be proved; the agnostic says it can't be proved; the atheist claims proof of the nonexistence of God. Obviously, the dilemma of the wanderer from faith is that of profound confusion. He is the bewildered one. (AA 12 & 12, page 28)
It doesn't matter if we are wanderers, agnostics, atheists, or simply being willing to cross this threshold to possibility; each one of us can start to believe in "something", even if we have to "act as if" there is SOMETHING, somewhere out there. Are we willing to take this plunge? Do you think we can do this in spite of not knowing or understanding? I did, many others did and we can testify that it WORKED!
I read Bill W's story in the AA Big Book, he sobered up and said, "Surely this was the answer - self-knowledge. But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank once more." (page 7) and his life spiraled out of control. For him it was the end, until his friend (who became sober) stood before him "...fresh-skinned and glowing. There was something about his eyes. He was inexplicably different." (page 9) and "my friend sat before me and he made the point-blank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. ...That floored me. It began to look as if religious people were right after all." (page 11)
The chapter at the back of the AA Big Book, "Spiritual Experience" (page 567) gives a lot of hope that there is place on the broad highway (we read about on page 55 ~ ‘We Agnostics’) for each one of us, regardless of our religion or lack of religion:
"The terms "spiritual experience" and "spiritual awakening" are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms."
"Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery" (AA Big Book 4th edition, page 568).
Your assignment for this week:
(i) Read the following literature:
iii) In OA 12 X 12 ([page 9) we read "Many of us compulsive overeaters tend to look at this step and say: ‘Restore me to sanity? I don't need that. I'm perfectly sane. I just have an eating problem.’ But how sane are we, really?" Read page 9 to 12 and answer the following question: What does your insanity look like?
(iv) On a two column balance sheet list on one side your negative feelings and on the other side your positive feelings as they relate to your religious experiences. What conclusion do you reach when you reflect on the balance sheet?
(v) Create another balance sheet. On one side list all the reason you can for believing in God. On the other side list all the reasons for disbelieving. What conclusion do you reach when you reflect on the balance sheet?
(vi) "'What do I need from a Higher Power? What would I like such a Power to be and to do in my life?' Once we identified the Power for ourselves, we found we felt at ease with it. Then we began to act as if such a Power existed and we found good things happening to us as a result.” (OA 12 and 12, page 13 & 14) What would you like your Higher Power to be like for you? Or, write a "Want advertisement" describing Him/Her/It for you personally.
(vii) Reflect on the following quote from the OA 12 and 12 (page 15) "For all of us - atheists, agnostics, and religious ones alike - coming to believe was something that happened as we began taking actions which others told us had worked for them." Can you please share some of these actions you learned from others, the literature or today’s writing with us?
(viii) If you were restored to sanity, what would your life look like? How would you feel, think and behave?
In loving service,
The Twelve Steps
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