Growing up in the church I formed my own views of the Bible, faith, and God based on my experiences and my environment. I attended Sunday morning services regularly, was a leader in my youth group, traveled to camps, conferences, and mission trips and participated in several small groups associated with the church. I thought I understood who God was and how He works. I thought that I could relate to the God that was talked about by my friends at church.
I thought wrong.
To find true sobriety and serenity I had to fire that God. I had to throw away the idea that if I attended enough services that I would achieve some sort of spiritual utopia. That if I read the Bible enough times that my life would align with His commands. That if I prayed enough and showed a desire to be healed that He would cure me of lust. Can that work for people? I’m sure it can. But it didn’t work for me. So therefore the God of their understanding is not the God of my understanding.
The God of my understanding is revealed when I work the 12 steps. Sermons that preach that we just need to stop the sinful behavior and we will be okay did not cut it for me. My God speaks through SA meetings in addition to sermons. My God speaks to me when I read from the AA Big Book in addition to the Bible. My God speaks to me when I get a phone call from a member of the program in addition to a phone call from an old youth pastor.
My God tells me that the only way to live a life of serenity is to fully surrender, not to pray that I can overcome lust. I am an addict I cannot overcome lust – believe me I have tried.
My view of faith is a little different now as well. I used to think faith was ignoring fear and believing that anything is possible with God. Now I believe that faith is surrendering to the 12 steps and admitting powerlessness over fear. One promotes that I have some sort of self-will in the matter. The other shatters any sense of self-will I think I might have and promotes God’s power and will for my life.
Finally, I used to think addicts who sought treatment, rehab or attended any “secular” program were people of little faith. They did not trust God enough. They were turning their back on the church. Now I understand that addicts who seek treatment are practicing a level of faith that few will ever know. Faith IS action. A secular 12-step program is a complete misnomer. If one works the steps they will see that at its core it is very much a spiritual program. (See Steps 2,3,4,5,6,11, and 12).
The God of my understanding cannot be contained in a man-made church. I find him there often but throughout the week I find him in SA. To non-addicts that cannot relate, I don’t wish to offend in any way. I merely wish to offer a different understanding of our Higher Power. I believe He knows what we all need. I am grateful that I finally found what my God has had in store all along.
A spiritual awakening.