This topic was the subject of my meeting this morning. It is a meditation meeting focusing on the eleventh step. We have an introduction to what the meeting is all about, just like every other AA meeting, and then we have twenty minutes of silent meditation. After the meditation we are introduced to the speaker for the week, and they give a short talk about their story as it pertains to the eleventh step. The eleventh step calls for the AA member to use prayer and meditation to consciously improve their connection to God - as we understand Him.
Ever since I started going to meetings I have had problems with the extensive uses of "God" & "Higher Power". I'll tell a bit about myself to let you know why. I grew up in a conservative southern baptist home. My father is a deacon of the church. My mother has held many non-paying positions of leadership in the church (Women aren't allowed to lead and get paid for God's service, only men). I was a leader in the youth group. I attended church functions at least three times a week. When I graduated High School I went Southwest Baptist University (Same school where my parents met) and studied Christian Ministries. Four and a half years later, I graduated with a bachelor's degree and began work for the Southern Baptist Home Mission board as a missionary. I say all that to say that I now am a devout agnostic.
It was impossible for me to see "God" in the leadership of churches. I tried other sects, and denominations, I tried two universalist churches, catholic churches, methodist, and Episcapalian. I simply can no longer believe in "God". The closest I can get to my particular belief would be Dr. Richard Dawkins, or maybe Bart D. Ehrman. It does not matter what I believe though, you are looking for the "right voice" for AA.
As I was saying this morning were at a meditation AA meeting and there was a woman there that said she is certain that God always wants the best for us. Another woman followed her up with a comment that she had a book that said take solice in the uncertainty of things, and that she was sick and tired of not having anything to believe in, so she now CHOOSES TO BELIEVE IN GOD. I have attended these meetings for two months now. The entire time I have chosen to remain silent while those around me share their feelings, beliefs, struggles, and words of encouragement with one another. I attend about five meetings a week and I chose to make this one all about listening. However this morning I could not remain silent. I have sat around and heard person after person in meeting after meeting speak about their "faith" in God, and that it is the only thing you need to remain sober.
I say hogwash. I have been sober for a little under six months now and I most certainly do not believe in a universal conscious being. I do not believe in a spirit that dwells within my own person. I do however believe in the power of the program. I believe that it has helped literally millions of people who suffered from the effects of alcohol to overcome their addiction, and live better lives. I have faith that if I remain sober, and follow the principals set forth in the "twelve steps" I will become a better person.
When I first started going to AA meetings I was shocked by the likeness the "program" bore to what I had been taught and observed about how to run a church. They have thier own text, doctrine, leadership/profits, mantras, dogma, etc. Bible = The Big Book. Doctrine / Dogma = 12 and 12 (as well as about a thousand other books about AA for sale world wide.) Profits = Uncle Bill Mantras = step 11, 5, the serenity prayer, the lord's prayer, hell, there's even a book of prayers for AA's. I am not being critical. These are mere observations based on my own experiences, however I see more of the teachings of Jesus, the Budda, the Dalhi Lama, Ghandi, and Muhammad in the lives of AA members than I ever saw in those who attended church.
In AA meetings people are able to open up and be fragile around perfect strangers,without the need to fear ridicule or persecution. You can admit to doing ANYTHING in a meeting and people will not judge, but rather they will tell you that it is ok and ask you if you learned anything. This is a beautiful thing! There is no gratitude like that of a sick and dying person being given a second chance at life. That is what we are. In meetins we do not judge, condemn, hate, slander, belittle, attack, or in any way allow others around us to do so, because there are more important things we are about.
We must always be about helping others live. When we first get to a recovery program, we are a mess. We don't even know how to take care of our own bodies, much less our lives, our mental state, or our relationships. Through this beautiful wonderful program we are learning the tools to help us become the full potential of what human beings can be. I just wanted you to know that there is not one voice of recovery. There is not one opinion about how to recover. Everyone must work their own program and allow those around them to work theirs. Do I believe in God? No. Do I believe in the program? You bet. I used to be dead to the world and now I have been resurected by a program. The program teaches that you must come to know the God of your Understanding. It does not tell you what to understand. Sometimes it gets sticky when I am working my steps 6&7 in particular, and talking with my sponsor about my issues with the G word. Am I going to stop trying? No. It would be the death of me. Besides, I have had my eyes opened to the beauty around me and I would never want them to be hidden again.
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