Help me to understand!

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
Hmevans
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Help me to understand!

Post by Hmevans »

Hello,
I'm struggling a bit with the "finding a higher power" concept. I'd like to know:
1. Were you raised in a religious background and did you then return to it?
2. What is your concept of a higher power?
3. How do you communicate with him/her/it?
4. How does having a relationship with your higher power help you?
If you're willing to talk via zoom or on the phone, shoot me a message and we can set it up.
Thanks in advance
Harry

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positrac
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by positrac »

I believe going to a meeting in person is what you need as reality has a way of making you aware.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
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D'oh
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by D'oh »

From "How it Works"
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
human including Myself
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Slow Down a little. A "Higher Power" can be anything. You are in AA because you couldn't do it alone. (Right?) Then AA is, in essence a Power Greater than yourself. That is where I started. I was shown from there. The door only needs to be opened a little bit.

DaveP1951
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by DaveP1951 »

Good questions Hmevans. I wish you good fortune in your intellectual and spiritual journey. That is what recovery is about. Early in my sobriety I feel I was trying to compete with others in AA in terms of becoming God Conscious. I really wanted my understanding to be deeper and more intellectual than anyone else’s. We are a very competitive bunch in some respects. I wanted to be more spiritual, more intellectual, and sober longer than anyone in my group. After 40 years of sobriety this is the conclusion I have come too. I found that an understanding of a God is personal journey which, for myself, is expressed in the following song lyrics:
It was written and produced by Steve Earle for Joan Baez' 2008 album Day After Tomorrow. The song is called God is God and it has been recorded by a number of artists such as Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, and also Steve Earl himself. Baez, Earl, and Kristofferson all went through some form of crisis which required a spiritual solution to their dilemma. (two of the mentioned, openly talk about their addiction to alcohol and drugs during their careers.)
Part of the lyrics go:
God, in my little understanding, don't care what name I call.
Whether or not I believe doesn't matter at all.
I receive the blessings.
That every day on Earth's another chance to get it right.

Why does this song resonate with me? Because it tells me that regardless of the degree I believe or don’t believe in a God I will still receive blessings of a life lived clean and sober.
Last edited by DaveP1951 on Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PaigeB
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by PaigeB »

I came in an atheist and I am CERTAIN that allowed me to grab onto this program. I didn't have to worry about my old ideas of god interferring with me grabbing onto this practical program of action.

I was raised as a Lutheran, but not much practice there... I became a Wiccan at about 8 years since becoming sober and now practice something along the lines of Universal Contemplative - small "c" catholic? See Richard Rohr... He runs the Center for Action and Contemplation. I believe he is a Franciscan Catholic.

I think we are ALL agnostics - at least most of the time. There is a Chapter about it in the Big Book! WE Agnostics. I like to call myself the most prayerful atheist you ever met! :lol:
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by dralius »

1. Both sides of my family are Methodist. We were not a church going family.
2. I am a non-theist so I don’t believe in a H.P. as understood in the Big Book.
3. (See 2.)
4. My lack of a H.P. is a barrier to me in AA. The steps are built around the idea that you let god fix your life since you are a failure to such an incredible magnitude that only a supernatural power could intercede. That and when I am having struggles one of the standard bits of advice is listen to or ask your H.P.
"There is no greater disaster than discontent."
-Loazi...

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Brock
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Re: Help me to understand!

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The steps are built around the idea that you let god fix your life since you are a failure to such an incredible magnitude that only a supernatural power could intercede.
I think that is a pile of rubbish. It clearly states that the program is for those who have tried to stop drinking and could not, it says that people will likely not take the steps unless they have reached a rock bottom. It also says that when we were not drinking we are usually pretty normal and good folks to be around. Yes the program does allow us to address other ‘faults’ we have developed over our drinking years, things like being self centered, it does not say we were failures to any magnitude, far less an incredible one.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Layne
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by Layne »

1. Were you raised in a religious background and did you then return to it?
I was raised Methodist and growing up attended church on a regular basis. Today, I am neither a Methodist nor a Christian. I belong to no organized religion.

2. What is your concept of a higher power?
It is constantly changing and evolving as am I. It is hard for me to put into words, but this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson touches upon it…“Within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty; to which every part and every particle is equally related; the eternal One.”

3. How do you communicate with him/her/it?
By going inward and engaging in contemplation at the core of my being. By attempting to learn about my authentic self. By exploring and expanding interconnectedness.

4. How does having a relationship with your higher power help you?
It helps me to realize what is inherently important, what is truly of value, what I should strive for.

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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by Spirit Flower »

Good job Layne. I resonate with what you said.
...a score card reading zero...

Indianapolis
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by Indianapolis »

1. Were you raised in a religious background and did you then return to it?

Yes, Lutheran. No, I have not returned to it. I'm a happy open minded cheerful agnostic.

2. What is your concept of a higher power?

I have several. Some days, the telephone is my higher power. Other days, the group. Other days, "Good Orderly Direction". Other days, it's reality unfiltered by my alcoholic thinking. No reason to limit one's self.

3. How do you communicate with him/her/it?

Clear thought, active participation in the group, self reflection, meditation, and talking to other alcoholics are all a part of that. It's not a simple single thing.

4. How does having a relationship with your higher power help you?

The steps tell us our higher power is involved in a few things -- restoring us to sanity (step 2), taking our negative will (step 3), and helping us with character defects (steps 6 - 7). I can happily say that my relationship with my higher powers has aided in all of those tasks.

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dralius
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by dralius »

Brock wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:35 am
The steps are built around the idea that you let god fix your life since you are a failure to such an incredible magnitude that only a supernatural power could intercede.
I think that is a pile of rubbish. It clearly states that the program is for those who have tried to stop drinking and could not, it says that people will likely not take the steps unless they have reached a rock bottom. It also says that when we were not drinking we are usually pretty normal and good folks to be around. Yes the program does allow us to address other ‘faults’ we have developed over our drinking years, things like being self centered, it does not say we were failures to any magnitude, far less an incredible one.
It very clearly says we cannot take care of it ourselfs, that we as true alchoholics must follow trhe steps or die, go insane, or end up incarserated.

Since we must follow the steps or accept the formentioned enevitabilities we must do the following things.
'
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity. (its made clear that this power can't be human, if not human it must be superntural unless you believe animals posses such abilities as cognition. Space aliens would alsofit the description)
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.

then later

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

We are asking a nonhuman entity or power that has abilities beyond what a human has, one we call God to fix us.
"There is no greater disaster than discontent."
-Loazi...

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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by Indianapolis »

Brock wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:35 am
The steps are built around the idea that you let god fix your life since you are a failure to such an incredible magnitude that only a supernatural power could intercede.
I think that is a pile of rubbish. It clearly states that the program is for those who have tried to stop drinking and could not, it says that people will likely not take the steps unless they have reached a rock bottom. It also says that when we were not drinking we are usually pretty normal and good folks to be around. Yes the program does allow us to address other ‘faults’ we have developed over our drinking years, things like being self centered, it does not say we were failures to any magnitude, far less an incredible one.
I'll take issue with Dralius' interpretation in a few ways (but will decline to call it rubbish -- ha).

1. "Supernatural." Exactly nothing in the program says that your higher power must be "supernatural." My higher powers, set out in my post above, are not "supernatural." In fact, they are quite natural. They meet the definitions of "god AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM" and fill the requirements for a higher power under the text. There's a cool book called "Don't Tell" which describes the experiences (and higher powers) of agnostic or atheist AA members. Needless to say, many many folks find higher powers that are not "supernatural."

2. "Failures." My life was unmanageable, unquestionably. That said, I'm hardly a failure by any stretch. Those words are not synonymous.

3. "God." Yeah, the book uses the word God a lot. It was a barrier to me in the program for EXACTLY as long as I wanted it to be a barrier (e.g., didn't really want to dive into the program). As soon as I wanted it, that word became no barrier at all. I don't have any belief in God. Never met him, don't know if he exists, don't care. But a simple logical substitution of "God" for my very-natural higher powers suffices to read the book, attend meetings, and stay sober.

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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by tomsteve »

Hmevans wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:07 pm
Hello,
I'm struggling a bit with the "finding a higher power" concept. I'd like to know:
1. Were you raised in a religious background and did you then return to it?
2. What is your concept of a higher power?
3. How do you communicate with him/her/it?
4. How does having a relationship with your higher power help you?
If you're willing to talk via zoom or on the phone, shoot me a message and we can set it up.
Thanks in advance
Harry
1-no
2-one with all power that could help me and is always there
3-just talk to Him
4- havent drank in 15+ years and not who i used to be.ive had a spiritual awakening and dont talk,tink, or act like i used to.
HOWEVER
that came about through the footwork of working the steps

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philip456
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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by philip456 »

With my search for a higher power I started from the concept that it will be something that is
(1) More powerful than me, and
(2) That I can place my trust in to help me in life and my recovery.

From there I looked for examples of things that fitted this defintion and came up with, if I'm seriously ill and rushed to hospital, I have to trust and give power over my medical treatment to the medical profession. That fits as a higher power. Something more powerful than me, that I need to put my trust in to help save my life.

That's not to say I can't question the higher power or take back control over my medical treatment later if I wish.

I see it as the same with a higher power in AA. It can be something rational and secular. It just needs to be something I trust, that for today will help me in my recovery.

It is acknowledging that after years of crazy alcoholic thinking, "I'll stop tomorrow", "I'd be OK, if everyone got off my case", "The doctors are mad, it's not going to kill me" etc etc, that I need help, to stay in a sane way of thinking. I need to do the work myself, but I need some help and direction.

So, the group/people who came before me, became my highter power. They have the collective expereince that is more extensive and successful than mine and I trust that they mean well and will help me.

All that step two stuff was quite straightforward. However, it's the step three stuff where we are expected to find a God of our understanding that I hit a brick wall. Having no understanding of God, this was impossible for me.

The nonsense I heard from other members was no help,
  • It can be anything you want, even the door knob - I found the idea that a door knob could be the supreme being in the Universe and something that I was expect to pray to and ask for direction, insane.
  • God of your understanding can be anything - Yes, but it still has to be a 'God'. It's not a banana of my understanding. It's a God of my understanding and I just don't believe in any type of God. I have no understanding or belief in any supreme being/God. I just have no supreme being/God of my understanding
  • It doesn't have to be a God, it can be anything you want it to be - How can a God of my understanding, not be a God? That makes no sense at all
  • I asked members what their God of their understanding was. Most said they couldn't describe it or said something so vague it was meaningless - How can it be of our understanding if you can't even give a basic desciption of it. That was no help.
And on and on. It was like I was speaking a different language to them or they were using a different dictionary, where words had different meanings from the English language.

Finally, I've started using one of the alternative 12 steps, with God taken out. You can find plenty if you do a google search. I'm now basically trying to turn my will and life over to reality (not the door knob).

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Re: Help me to understand!

Post by Indianapolis »

philip456 wrote:
Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:15 am
With my search for a higher power I started from the concept that it will be something that is
(1) More powerful than me, and
(2) That I can place my trust in to help me in life and my recovery.

. . .

Finally, I've started using one of the alternative 12 steps, with God taken out. You can find plenty if you do a google search. I'm now basically trying to turn my will and life over to reality (not the door knob).
Philip,

Your path is very similar to mine. My distillation of the "higher power" from an agnostic's perspective is that it must be something that:
1. Is more powerful than me and can help restore my sanity (step 2);
2. I can put trust/faith in to take negative will (step 3);
3. Can help me with my character defects (steps 6-7); and,
4. That I can commune/communicate with (step 11).

The "door knob" cliche is offensive to me as well. A door knob fits none of those criteria. BUT, with some logical reasoning, the group's wisdom, reality, and various other powers greater than me CAN fit the bill.

Personally, I still use the as-drafted 12 steps. The word "god" isn't so offensive to me that I can't read it -- it's just a word! I just understand the meaning to me as I read them, and I move on with the program.

Anyway, just a note of accord with your approach. Very similar to my path, it's always lovely to see other agnostic/atheists/whatever making similar journeys through the steps.

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