My story is not unique. Millions have shared it and millions have conquered alcoholism. A great many of us approached our first AA encounter with extreme trepidation about a spiritual experience.
“What? You going to preach at me some BS about God and religion?”
But, the alternative was a return to the insanity that had consumed our lives and absolutely deprived us of self-respect and intelligent choices. So, we obligingly sat through the reference to God in the opening ‘Serenity Prayer’ and a few mentions of God by the group and then the closing ‘Lord’s Prayer’. It wasn’t too bad but, don’t be talking that God stuff laced with theology and thou shalt and thou shalt not.
At my first meeting I learned that the only requirement for membership was a desire to stop drinking. “I can handle that”.
Subsequently, they talked about a higher power. They said it could be anything I recognized as a greater power than me. Well, I already knew alcohol was a greater power than me, so I totally understood that concept. The older, wiser group members suggested that I use the group as my higher power temporarily until I had some sober time behind me. That worked just fine.
But, after thousands of meetings and a few years of sobriety, my inner self yearned for a more definitive God picture. I began the search for deeper meaning and resolution to that initial “God as I understand God”.
My church experience as a young boy indoctrinated me into a theology of an old, bearded, vengeful and wrathful man sitting on his throne somewhere in the heavens just waiting to judge and condemn me for being human. Indeed, as that God promised, I went to hell. As I learned from hearing the stories of other recovering alcoholics, that church experience was not unique and equally damning.
During recovery there have been numerous epiphanies but, the most recent and possibly most significant occurred from reading another blogger’s post sharing the concept of God, a verb. https://cac.org/ . Amazingly, after several months of studying Fr. Richard’s writings, spirituality for me has returned to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
What can be more Godly than a group of bickering, diverse, sober drunks coming together in a unified effort to spread the theology of sobriety to a suffering world? It’s the Gospel in action. It’s exactly what Jesus proclaimed to the oppressed and downtrodden. And miraculously for those of us who have rejected the old, judgmental, heavenly seated man of our youth, this God does not demand a list of thou shalt and thou shalt not.
God, a verb, is not a new or faddish concept. Buddhist monks, Jesus and his followers understood it. The mystics of ancient times practiced it. Bill W. and Dr. Bob resurrected it calling it Alcoholics Anonymous. This God’s only requirement is a desire to live sober, productive lives, and “practice these principles in all our affairs.”