When born, most of us come into the world untainted and perfectly innocent. From that time on, we are influenced by everything we experience in life, good and bad. If we are loved and nurtured, we may develop a feeling of trust and safety. But, if as sometimes happens, we get our hand slapped when we pick up something from the coffee table, it may trigger an attitude of defiance and resistance. These two opposites are just examples of the many conflicts we encounter in a lifetime. The experiences we are exposed to condition us to think and react in a certain way, as the result.
Newcomers in Alcoholics Anonymous, and even some seasoned veterans, often find it hard to grasp a concept of “a power greater than ourselves.” This is probably the biggest hurdle we in AA must face in our search for a happy and meaningful life. Once we get past our resistance to the concept of a Higher Power, it becomes much easier to proceed with the rest of the Program of AA.
What is meant by the word God, and by the phrase God can do for us, can mean something different to just about everyone – not only those resisting the concepts. And if God alone was the answer, why do priests and ministers who are alcoholic come to AA for treatment; why not just go to church?
Alcoholics Anonymous is here for all alcoholics who want to get sober, regardless of their approach to faith. Anyone who thinks AA is trying to convert someone into a religion, or out of a religion, is simply misguided.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (12&12) have many comments explaining this. But unfortunately old conditioning, bolstered by the EGO, seems to block some of us from breaking down the resistance on this subject. Or, some members may just fake it to appear to be going along with the program, but never get the results as long as they resist the concept of a Higher Power.
If we denied the possibility of a God of certain religious groups, they would not have AA available to them. And if we made it a requirement that we picked among religious beliefs, atheists would be left out.
If a new or struggling member of AA believes they do not have a Higher Power, I might remind them that alcohol was more powerful than they were — or else why would they need AA? With this in mind, I suggest that, to begin with, it may only be necessary to find a power greater than alcohol, as it says about Step 2 in the 12 & 12. “To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of AA’s program as enthusiastically as I could.”
As I look back on it now, I realize that that was exactly the way I found my way through this challenge. I find absolutely no conflict in any approach that one discovers on his own, only that he practices the rest of the program with enthusiasm. What it seems to imply is that if you trust the process and, just do the suggestions, you will find a suitable understanding of a power greater than yourself that you can do business with.
I’m still not sure what or who (if you like) I am asking for guidance from. But I’m open minded about these things, and I have to let everyone find their own brand of enlightenment, without prejudging anyone else’s approach on this matter. I believe that changing my perception was what put me firmly on the road to recovery.
The only thing that I have to resist is my EGO. And the way I do that is by living by sound and unselfish principles, many of which are discussed in AA meetings and get assimilated through osmosis as newcomers continue to put 2-and-2 together. It is not that complicated. If we don’t get caught up in the debate and just follow the simplest suggestions, it all works out fine.
By Rick R.