Speak, Lord, I’m Listening (or trying to, anyway!)

I had a really interesting meeting this morning.  The fourth Monday of each month I take a little extra time and try to research some unusual AA literature to use at my meeting.  This week, I found a really good piece.  It was originally a pamphlet, produced in the late 1930’s, and used widely when AA first came into existence.  The title of the brochure is “How To Listen to God.”

Now, if you have been reading me for any length of time, you know that I am prone to second-guessing myself, but I felt really confident about this reading.  I have come to know most of my fellow attendees, and I felt reasonably sure that they would enjoy this piece as well.

As fate would have it, I had a new meeting attendee this morning.  Based on what he shared, he clearly has some time in the Fellowship, although I personally have not met him.  After we read the brochure, and I shared my thoughts on the subject, the newcomer was the first hand raised.  And the first words out of his mouth?  “I did not enjoy that reading AT ALL.”

Uh-Oh!

He was very well-spoken, and very polite, but he did not like the ideas proposed in the brochure as to how to listen to God.  He is, in fact, still uncertain about the God angle at all.  He considers the Fellowship his Higher Power, and he hears the voice of his Higher Power out of the mouths of the people in the rooms.  To use his words, “putting down the glass was easier than accepting there is a God.”

I will admit to having a few seconds of self-pity (how can he not like what I selected?!?), but I quickly rejected those thoughts to listen to his message.  And I really liked what he had to say.

From my time in the blogging world, I have gotten to experience recovery through many different avenues… 12-step Fellowships, white-knuckled sobriety, using the blogging recovery world in lieu of 12-step meetings, Christian-based recovery, the list goes on and on.  It is fascinating and uplifting to see success through the different channels.  The biggest stumbling block, as I read, to 12-step programs is the belief in God.  People who struggle with faith do not understand how they can commit to a program that requires believing that God can “restore them to sanity.”

Had I been as conflicted about the existence of God, I am sure I would have reacted the exact same way.  I feel extra grateful that faith is one struggle I did not have, either in early sobriety, or now.  I believe that alcoholics who also lack faith have an extra mile to walk in terms of recovery, and I have a lot of respect for their sobriety.

I went into my meeting this morning with the intent of sharing a really interesting reading on how to listen to God speak.  But I came out of the meeting with so much more:  gratitude for my sobriety, for my faith in God, and for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today’s Miracle:

Having the ability to sit with a group of recovery-minded individuals, and talk about the benefits and stumbling blocks of prayer, is an experience that is hard to describe, but feels miraculous!

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Posted on September 23, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Great post, great meeting. That was/is me! I still have no religion but I do have a heigher power that is all around me and I hear her all the time. I love the way your meeting keeps evolving and new things come to light for you and I am sure your attendees. I think that you have and are helping so many people! Awesome service work. I got my cup filled just reading about it! Thanks! Hugs!

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  2. Awesome topic and very pertinent to many people in and especially out of the program who are hesitant because they think AA is some form of cult.

    i was very religious as a teen (president of the church youth group, even preached a sermon in front of a congregation once) and then became disillusioned with organized religion because of all the hypocrisy i found in it.

    When i joined AA 30 years later, i thought i’d come and pay attention to the not drinking stuff but ignore the religion part. Fortunately, my sponsor told me during one of our first meetings when we discussed the 2nd and 3rd steps, that my Higher Power was the rooms of AA. That was sound advice and something i appreciated because i truly believe that one of the most basic tenets of AA is that 1) i cannot control my drinking so 2) i need to put some faith in an eternal power that can.

    i think at the beginning i confused religion with spirituality. My program is not a religious program and i’m lucky that in Yeaman there’s not a lot of Christian AA talk (not saying it’s wrong, just saying it’s not right for me). But while my program is not religious, it is very spiritual and i’m becoming more and more spiritual as i progress in sobriety.

    The difference? One of my favorite quotes i’ve heard in AA is, “Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”

    Thanks for an awesome post!

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    • I. Love. That. Quote! I’m sure I’ve heard it, but it has never resonated so much as it did when I just read it! There is quite a bit of Christian AA talk in the States (I AM a Christian, and I don’t think it should be there), so I know it turns people off. It’s so important for us to lead by attraction rather than promotion, and, in my humble opinion, the overzealous are attracting no one.

      Thanks for the feedback, Al, now my mental picture of your can include your standing at a pulpit!!

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  3. We can go on forever about the “God” angle. Or not! The BB states on pg. 44 that “About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life – or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics.” Which to me says that the other half had no problem with the God thing. And in the end, it’s all fine. Like you, I never had an issue with God. I believed and had no doubt that He could help me. I was never ever religious and I never practiced. But I always knew there was something out there. And being in AA brought me to that. “God”, as in the word, is a concept. Many don’t realize that and are understandably frightened at times thinking it’s a religious thing (cue the comment about the Lord’s Prayer being said at the end of many meetings – that can be explained / discussed later!)

    But while I have always thought it would be challenging to sponsor someone who is staunchly atheist, I think it would be more difficult to sponsor someone who has a view of God as a lapsed one. The BB also talks about these types.

    Anyway, don’t want to nerd out too much here on this. I loved the post because you are so honest, and also how you came around to this guy’s POV. You’re right – I don’t know what it’s like to not believe in God and then somehow make that great, great leap of faith. Must be tough…and I get the feeling that those who *do* make that leap and experience His power…well, they’re not moving off of that horse.

    Wonderful to read, Josie…thanks for sharing:)

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    • Thanks, Paul, and I ALWAYS appreciate the “nerd out,” it adds some substance to the post! I think you might be right, lapsed God argument is harder to argue than the no God argument. I have not dealt with either personally, but sooner or later it will happen, and I’m sure we’ll be writing about it!

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