I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t stand the Christian-sounding language (the “God idea”) at my first 12-step meetings.
But, with few other options for getting sober in 1986, I kept coming back. Most important, I held on to the flexibility offered by the words, “as we understood God.”
In those first months, I began to wonder if this mysterious “higher power” had something to do with the joy and freedom of my new sober friends. Also, I tried not to judge any language that smacked of organized religion. After all, who was I to condemn this God idea, when I had screwed up my own life so royally?
Something Greater than Myself
Then I read this passage: “Deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of God. . . For faith in a power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.”
(p. 55, Alcoholics Anonymous)
Up to this point, I had put my faith in the power of high grades and romance to make me happy. But nothing had worked. In fact, I was facing my third divorce! Perhaps something greater than myself could help me out of my misery.
The most user-friendly name I can give the God idea is “positive power;” but we each find many different ways to experience it.
Positive Power as Mother, Master Mind, Love, and Light
After a year of meetings, working the steps, and therapy, I figured something was helping me stay sober. My new friends called it “God.” But, at that point, I couldn’t imagine love coming from a traditional male God. Instead, I felt most comforted by the caring “mother-power” of the women at the meetings.
But that was only my initial image. Soon, I went to a Unity church in Warren MI led by Jack Boland, a minister in recovery who led a group that referred to the God idea as the “Master Mind.” Using his eight-step process we each made requests, and each day we affirmed them for one another.
After several weekly sessions, I could not believe the “miraculous demonstrations” I witnessed! For one, I had met a man who was healthy and fun, and instead of instantly merging my life with his, I was living alone (for the first time ever!) and taking it really slowly. (Today we’ve been married 32 years! Now, that’s some positive power, aye?)
Soon after this, my sponsor began a Course in Miracles group for sober women. As we studied the lessons, I saw the God idea expressed as love, peace, and connection. But the image I found most convincing was of a “light” within each of us:
“The light is in [you] now. . .It is the only thing you bring with you from your. . .Source. The light cannot be lost. [It] is shining in you now, and from your heart extends around the world. . .The light within you is sufficient.” (Lesson 188, A Course in Miracles)
As I discovered this light within myself, I began to see it in others. For example, when a woman walks into a 12-step meeting, I can instantly see the her shining light leading her to a happy, healthy life.
What’s Your Image of Positive Power (a God Idea)?
My images and experiences of positive power continue to evolve, and I’m relieved that I don’t need to define it or understand exactly how it works. I just know that when I let this power into my mind and heart, amazing things happen!
Perhaps you, too, have found a power that works for you, even if it doesn’t conform to a religious standard. ** I’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT! ** (Click HERE or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or comment on this post in FB, TW, or Instagram.
As we share our experiences, I hope fewer people reject the 12 steps because of their use of the God idea. May we each find a positive power that works for our recovery and happiness!
Gigi Langer has been sober 35 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Florida with her husband, Peter and her cat Murphy.
Gigi’s award-winning book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now describes how to reject the negative thinking leading to addiction, dysfunctional relationships, perfectionism, and worry about loved ones. Check out the practical directions, personal stories, and other helpful suggestions. Amazon: 4.8 stars (Buy Discounted Paperback, e-book, OR audiobook HERE)