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.