Not ready for God
According to AAagnostica.org, “The word “God,” or another version of “Him,” is found 281 times in the first 164 pages of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” (the Big Book).” We have not validated that number, but it sounds about right. We chose to use the site as a reference source as today’s blog speaks to the overt call to spirituality that is baked into Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) solution while offering some alternatives for those on the fence about the god thing.
This overtly religious tone could prove to be an immediate turn-off to a newcomer. We beg for a few minutes to keep reading and for a few days to keep exploring – as we have found that there IS a solution. We have found a way to accept a relationship that works for us and has worked for millions of others.
Anthropologists estimate that at least 18,000 different gods, goddesses, and various animals or objects have been worshipped by humans since our species first appeared, per Psychology Today. That provides quite a base to affix ourselves to.
On a recent episode of sober.coffee podcast, our friend Cary joined us, and we talked about how much we didn’t understand the god matter. We spoke about succeeding in AA without buying into a super high mystical spectral but rather things and people closer to ground level. We discussed the following diety alternatives an atheist, agnostic, or god-grumpy might choose as their higher power. The point is to come to a place where success does not depend on us – that we rely on control more significantly than ourselves. We didn’t settle on one, as ours drifted from one to another until we settled into energy that we were comfortable with long-term.
When we first landed at the bottom of our bottom, we could hardly see past our nose. It was those closest to us that we relied on and surrendered to to get us the immediate help we needed. They were the power superior to ourselves. They directed us through the most critical first steps. Family doctors, psychologists, ER Nurses, wives, husbands, sons, and daughters fit this role.
As unprepared as we were, we quickly discovered that we were surrounded by those who had prepared for our time. They had direction, definitive answers, and the wherewithal to execute on our behalf – should we surrender to their control. Professional Counselor
Our journey found us fully vulnerable and in desperate need of a lifeline, and we found such in the capable grip of a professional. These guys and gals are trained and ready for a time like ours. We were faced with the ultimate choice - a life-changer. Do we surrender to their direction or stay on our declining course? Years of training vs. the training wheels that held up our weakened stance.
We are grateful that we chose the higher power of education and experience over our grip on ourselves, which was surely and rapidly slipping. Yielding our will in these early days (and through today) was the differentiator, saving us from the continued and inevitable destruction of health, wealth, and life itself.
The Big Book (of Alcoholics Anonymous)
The 144,000 words contained in the book titled Alcoholics Anonymous provide education, directional command, and detailed and practical suggestions for those open and willing to renounce their self-will to its message. Co-authored by the founding members of an upstart community of recovering alcoholics, the textbook serves as the ultimate authority to millions of the hurt who want to heal.
The document makes a powerful claim on page 58: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” That is the extreme we submitted to. We found no alternative treatment to take such a solid lead. We were just desperate enough to buy in, absolutely.
There is super-power when experience and capability take the willing under their wing. The living example of achievement combined with a commitment to care makes this uncanny relationship potentially amazing – capable of producing unreachable results for the disheartened and damaged.
The first 164 pages of the Big Book (the TEXT section) never mention the word “sponsor.” Instead, it repeatedly touts “working with other alcoholics.”
We found somebody in the rooms of AA who was willing to work with us – showing us exactly what they did in their recovery. This is a good place to note that the responsibility of a sponsor is to show us how to successfully recover from a hopeless state of mind by conveying how they worked through the first 164 pages.
This super-power, this greater-than-ourselves force, can serve efficiently until we broach the fact that sponsors are human and, therefore, fallible. But, in a pinch, they could work temporarily.
Collective AA Members
Yes, a “G”roup “O”f “D”runks could represent a power greater than ourselves. When looking at the aggregate, in concert, one could connect strength from their direction, examples, and interactions.
Their collective power is greater than ours, but with humans come human shortcomings.
Most definitely, there is hope found in their examples, and their hurt can support our help. It is factual that there is a natural tendency to blend personal and social struggles (that don’t apply to sobriety) into a straight-line recovery program—said a different way: Group therapy alone does not solve the addiction dilemma.
The reality of the program as laid out
The cold hard fact is that the spirit of the book is that the “power greater than ourselves” is meant to be the creator of the world, God—the One who possesses all authority and control over what happens in the heavens and the earth. The diety referenced is beyond flaw and has the power to create light and dark and relieve the obsession and compulsion to drink. It is this God that the book suggests we buy into.
With the above alternatives, the writer of this blog post is simply conveying what might get the struggling alcoholic through the fog of the early days if their feet are set in against God thing.
We believe that long-term success requires openness and the willingness to accept that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is spiritually-based.
We remained open and willing…
We can’t guarantee the success of trading out the ultimate for the alternatives. All we can say is that we ultimately bought into the whole program and have been relieved of the drink problem.
Maybe we weren’t ready at first, but God was ready for us when we were ready for Him.
"God" is always ready.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast #14 God - "As I Don't Understand Him"... Cary joins to ponder God… the episode dropped on 9/15/2023 Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.