In 12-step programs such as AA, Al-anon, CA, XA, SLAA (and there are many more) the basis for recovery is the belief in a “Higher Power as you understand him” or “God”. So what to do with this when you consider yourself to be an atheist or when you are not a Christian.
In many conversations I have had with people suffering from unhealthy habits I commonly hear – or sense –some form of anger or frustration when talking about this notion of a Higher Power. Some people are outright pi..ed off. How can it be, they ask themselves, that there is so much (personal) suffering and misery in their lives and in the world if there is a God. Why does the Higher Power let this happen? If this is how you think, then this post is for you.
What do you believe in? Do atheists believe in nothing? Is there anything we can believe in?
When you look around you. You see the sun, the moon, the stars. The snow, the rain, the wind. And clouds and birds and cats and dogs. Mountains, oceans, forests, rocks, animals, plants and trees. Whether you believe in a higher power or god or not. It is undeniable that we live in a universe and that we are surrounded by life, by movement by energies. From the farthest galaxy to the smallest subatomic particle. And by rhythm too. The cycles of the moon, the sun, the ocean tide, the seasons, the orbits of planets.
The second thing that is undeniable is that we are part of this enormous living system. We are living with and in it, and we can’t live without it. We breathe it, we eat it, we drink it.
The third thing that is beyond debate is the fact that we were born alive into this world, this universe.
Does it really matter whether this universe was created or not, or whether it simply was and is and always will be? What is certain is that we as individuals are an extremely small part in this gigantic whole. Of course, insanely enough we consider ourselves the most important part of it all. We believe the universe revolves around us. Of course it doesn’t. And quite frankly we have no control over it whatsoever (see my previous posts).
The awareness – you may call it humility – of this higher power of the universe we live in – whether divinely controlled or not – has helped me tremendously in recovering from my own unhealthy habits and in dealing with the unhealthy habits of others .
It made me realize that I was fighting the universe, fighting a power, or powers or forces or things or phenomena, much, much greater than myself.
Once I came to believe that there was this power greater than myself – and how can we deny that there is a huge universe living universe we live in, with uncountable things happening in it simultaneously, even as I am writing these words – I was restored to sanity.
Whether this higher power is male or female, wears a silver-haired beard, sits on a throne in heaven or is an abstract force or evolutionary process, it doesn’t matter. The higher power we live in is manifest in each and every aspect of the universe that surrounds us. And we are a part of it.