Here are some of my own meandering thoughts and observations. Most anonymous programsfor treating addictions such as sex addiction and drug addiction seem to begin and end with turning something over to a “higher power.” They begin with admitting powerlessness over an addiction and end with living an enlightened life in which we accept what we cannot control.
Do you need God to get sober in the first place?
In the beginning you are urged to admit that you cannot kick your addiction on your own, that you are powerless when it comes to your addictive behavior, that you must let go of “self will” and so on.
It is pretty clear to a lot of addicts who get sober that they were not able to kick on their own. These are the cases where the addiction was so compelling that they finally had to reach out for help. Does this help have to involve calling on a higher power such as God?
In the beginning every journey involves a leap of faith
So the addict who decides to go to an AA meeting or a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting and ends up believing that he or she should give the program a try is actually making a leap of faith. They may not see it that way but in fact they have decided to try to follow a set of instructions, like a 12-step program, even though they may have zero ability to imagine how it will work in their own case.
The same is true for an addict who enters a treatment center or who works with an addiction therapist. In effect they are putting their faith either in a 12-step fellowship or in a program or clinician that is saying “trust us, we can help you.”
Is a leap of faith the same as belief in God?
All of us take leaps of faith at many points in our lives. When we embark on a new endeavor or career path, or when we get married. We do not know what is in store for us and we do what we do because we have some reason to believe that the path will take us where we want to go. But we don’t really know.
So what kind of faith is involved? Some people believe that there is a deity, someone watching over them and that whatever happens to them will be for the best. But other people simply accept that they do not know where the road will lead and that they can live with the results whatever they are.
The willingness to take a leap of faith is often just the intuition that something is a good idea. Sometimes this takes the form of believing in a mentor or guide such as a therapist or sponsor. On some gut level we believe that we can trust someone or something and we go along with the program.
Is this a belief in God? Are we then making that person into a “higher power?” Not necessarily. I think often what we are doing is trusting our gut level sense of things. We have no proof, but something gives us a sense of hope and we put our faith in our own judgment.
Is “intuition” the same as God?
One of my favorite quotes pulls these ideas together:
“If you can’t trust that the universe will, in its own way look after you and protect you, like the lilies of the field, it means that you have no trust in yourself…”
Learning to trust your own instincts, learning to believe that you have the gut level ability to make good choices and look after yourself is, I think, a belief in a higher power of sorts. Sometimes this is experienced by people as being “guided” by a higher power in that it is not a product of conscious thought.
When a new way of looking at something or a creative idea “comes to you” it seems to come out of nowhere. It often seems like you are listening to something on a whole other level.
My 20-something step-son has a T-shirt that says: “I used to be an atheist until I realized that I was God.” What has been your experience?