Journey to Faith

I always believed in God. I went to church on Christmas and Easter and I even prayed from time to time when the you-know-what was hitting the fan. I prayed for money, jobs, girlfriends.  I prayed the pregnancy test would be negative. I always prayed God would come down from heaven and fix things for me. I never thought to ask God to fix me -- to change me in any way. After all, I was a pretty good guy. Why would I want to change? My belief in God did not stop alcoholism from slowly but surely robbing me of everything worthwhile in life. I lost friends, interest in challenging work, creativity, and, finally, all enthusiasm for life itself. After years of suffering, I was graced with a moment of clarity and found myself in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In AA I learned that belief in God is only a starting point. A belief has no real power until it grows into faith. Faith allows me to trust that the universe has my best interest at heart. Faith gives me the courage to walk through fear and live my life fully. Faith assures me that regardless of how dark it seems, the sun is shining behind the clouds. What began as a wishy-washy belief in God, grew slowly into solid faith -- a faith that works for me regardless of what’s going on. Blind faith never worked for me. My faith grew out of my own living experiences in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

I began my journey to faith during my first couple of meetings. Even though my cells were saturated with alcoholism, I sensed many of the people in the rooms had something I wanted. I didn't know what it was at the time, but today I know. They had energy, enthusiasm, happiness -- life in full expression. These folks were nothing like the men I  met every day at my neighborhood bar for "happy" hour. They weren't just pretending to have a good time, they seem to be really enjoying life -- sober! A few days later I was getting ready for bed and I suddenly realized I hadn’t thought about a drink all day. I had no idea at the time how, after using alcohol as the solution for my life for 30 years, it was possible not to have a thought about a drink for a whole day! Something was going on I couldn’t understand, but I wanted more.

I started my steps. When I arrived at step three, I repeated the Third Step prayer as part of my morning quiet time. Since I had no real faith that God would change me, my prayer felt like empty words -- like I had my fingers crossed behind my back.  My sponsor said it really didn't matter if I  believed it or felt it. It only mattered that I was willing to keep saying it. I fell into a comfortable routine of meetings, work, and hanging out with other alcoholics. 

The first real test of my faith came at three years sober. I lost my job and, due to my age, had absolutely no prospects of finding another one. I was plunged into a pit of despair, but gratefully I had a large positive balance in my sobriety bank account so I picked up the phone instead of picking up a drink. I shared what was going on with my sponsor and other alcoholics. I worked the steps around the job loss issue, discovering my part. I made my amends to the people I had harmed on the job. I slogged through a couple of dark, painful weeks, but when I came out on the other side, I was different. I had been changed and my faith was stronger than ever. My faith has been tested many times during my recovery and it has grown every time. 

What started as a belief -- if I did what you did, I could have what you had -- evolved into a faith that works for me. Today I  know whatever mess I  get myself into, I can rely on HP to get me out, not by changing my outsides, but by changing my insides. I don't believe there is a God. I  know there is a God. I've had too many experiences of God working in my life to believe otherwise.