This is such a difficult concept for some to take, myself included. I was born and raised as a Sunday and Holiday’s Catholic as a child and the Catholic faith left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought they were all hypocrites. And I was right. None of us are perfect – people in church included. I had no idea that there was a difference between religion and living life on a spiritual basis.
“To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.” – Big Book pg 44 “We Agnostics”
I was certain of one thing. I was desperate and willing to do ANYTHING to stay sober. That desperation is what led me to believe there COULD be a power greater than myself. I had to realize that drinking was not my problem. I was my problem. My lack of any sort of spirit was my problem. These guys at AA were sober and happy and living fulfilling lives. They had what I wanted. What they had was life being lived on a spiritual basis. I needed to get me some of that. Anything was better than what I was doing.
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” – Step 2
I can’t recall exactly the moment at which I “Came to believe”. But at some point, I did. I think around 2 years sober the first time (yes, it took me that long). But, this step does NOT mean that you have to all of a sudden have some unbelievable faith in God. In fact, this step does not mention God at all – and that’s an important distinction to make. It mentions a “power greater than ourselves”. For my entire drinking career, alcohol was the power greater than me. It had complete control over my life. My actions. My decisions. Everything. When I figured that out, it was not hard for me to believe that there could be another power greater than me. The tables of AA were my higher power for a long time until I could truly find and build a relationship with my own higher power (who I now know as God). These guys knew how to stay sober – I didn’t. That in itself was a power greater than me.
“Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?” – Big Book pg 45 “We Agnostics”
Again, it took me two years to finally begin thinking truly about a higher power. Why was it that I was now sober when I had already tried countless times to get sober on my own? My favorite of the 9th Step Promises (Big Book pages 83-84) is “Our whole attitude and outlook upon life WILL change”. That’s exactly what happened for me. After staying sober for a while, living these principles to the best of my ability in all of my affairs and working with others, my whole attitude and outlook upon life has truly changed. With a new attitude and outlook on life, I was able to “come to believe” in a power greater than myself.
“…First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions. Second, to get sober and to stay sober, you don’t have to swallow all of Step Two right now. Looking back, I find that I took it piecemeal myself. Third, all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is an open mind.” – 12 Steps and 12 Traditions pg 26 “Step Two”
This statement is so true. AA is full of suggestions and nobody demands anything. That’s what so awesome about this practical program of action. But, these steps have been suggested to me in the same way that it is suggested you take a parachute with you when skydiving. I needed an open mind. Alcoholics Anonymous has given me just that. I was able to see a higher power working in others and decided that was something that could work for me too. Now, on to the second half of the second step…
“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.” – Big Book pg 84 “Into Action”
Does this step suggest that I am somehow insane? My answer is YES! Absolutely! My actions were insane. Choosing alcohol over everything important in my life was insane. When I ceased fighting and gave this thing all I have, recovery started to happen. Sanity has returned (although slowly). I came to believe that my higher power is what COULD restore me to sanity – if I let Him. And He has.