Saturday, April 19, 2008

of my understanding

My quest to understand and grow spiritually is turning into a challenge for my sobriety. I've been struggling these past weeks, still sober, still clean. But most unhappy. As I look back over why, it's because I've been making things difficult. No one else to blame, no matter how much I wish there was.

I attend a church with my spouse. My spouse is a "classical" Christian and over the years she has found much comfort and support in her beliefs. They have kept her strong through our worst years and I would be deeply remiss to find any fault in her spirituality. I attend church for a couple of reasons. When I entered recovery, someone suggested it would be an excellent way to support my wife. I then found that if I listened non-judgmentally, I would hear things that supported my recovery.

Recently, I was approached and asked if I would be willing to be part of a recovery program in the church we attend. The pastor wants to model it after "Celebrate Recovery", a recovery program developed by Saddleback Church. I read the literature, discovering it's a modified 12 step program (8 principles). It looks interesting and works for those that work it. So here I am, two years into recovery, starting to seriously work with others in AA, and now presented with a choice. So I asked myself the question, what would God have me to do? And that lead to the question about how do I understand my Higher Power to be. And that lead to a lot of thinking with no resolve. And here I am today, feeling like I am getting dangerously close to relapsing. After all, who would know if I starting viewing pornography again?

I do not want to go back to what I was. Last Sunday, I went to a meeting where just a few people showed up. In the ten people there, 4 were new comers. I was asked to share what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now. As I started to talk about what it was like, I started to cry. I had forgotten how bad it was and to see it again was, for me, an emotional experience. By the grace of my Higher Power (however I don't understand) I am clean and sober today. I want to experience that for at least one more day.

So, I declined the opportunity to serve in this recovery program at the church we attend. For lots of reasons, mostly in the fact that while this church model would help people, it would also exclude people. I have met some wonderful, loving, caring, people who would never be found in a church. Their spirituality is like a breath of fresh air. People, who's sexual orientation, who's theology, who's understanding of their Higher Power, would not be accepted in a Christian Church.

In declining to help, the fear I was beginning to experience did not alleviate. I continued to look at "my understanding" to see if it was correct. To compare it to other's understanding and Christian dogma. I became full of doubt, fearful, not trusting in my own Higher Power. In the April 17th reading from "Daily Reflection", there was sentence that states "To fear God is to be afraid of Joy". I am becoming filled with angst, a struggle within me.

And when you talk about it with various people with various beliefs, you get a lot of opinion.

When I prayed a pray to the God of my understanding, I tucked myself into this Higher Powers hands. My Higher Power has no gender and no form ('cept the hands, of course). I don't have any idea of what this Higher Power is. My understanding is that God is loving, compassionate, patient, understanding. I try to understand my God's will for my day is. Always, it is to love the person directly in front of me. To be loving, compassionate, patient and understanding, the same attributes I understand my Higher Power to have. (I am learning to be thus, understanding that I have a lifetime of growth in front of me.)

A friend also gave me a copy of "Spiritual Awakenings". As I read it, reviewing each AA's experience with the God of their own understanding, I realize that what our concept or lack of concept about our Higher Power is, is not important part. The most important part is that we turn our life and will over to our Higher Power (as we understand our God to be). To do our Higher Powers will instead of our will is an important leg of my recovery.

All that stuff about Christianity and the correct way to believe, I am putting back on the shelf. I am in no condition to be realistic in this kind of thinking. It just creates havoc within me. I end up in a quagmire of people pleasing thinking. I am going to try and stop it. To stay on the journey set before me. To mimic what I understand my Higher Power to be, even if it's just a weak shadow.

I am going away on a course for a week. It's a course about self-improvement. I have no idea what to expect. The councillor I had been seeing about all my fear recommended that I go. I know a few people who have gone to it, and they just tell me it's lots of work, intense, and life changing. I am feeling excited about it. It starts tomorrow! Did I mention I was excited.

I am thankful for the rooms of AA, for the people that fill them, for their experience, strength, and home. I am thankful that I am part of that fellowship, so rich and diverse. I am thankful that I am clean and sober, in the hands of God.


pat said...

I am sorry you have been struggling. I am also happy to hear you did not relapse. I have the feeling you are a person who overthinks every situation. Sometimes when you do not know what to do, it is best to do nothing. I am thinking about you and sending hugs. Take care.

indistinct said...

Thank you for the hugs and thoughts.

Hey, isn't one of the AA slogans, Think, Think, Think?


Anonymous said...

Sending prayers your way. I undrestand where you are coming from. At about a year sober I was asked to join a womens recovery Bible study. It sounded great. They used the recovery bible used in celebrate recovery. Although I consider myself a Christian and hope to be baptised at some point, I just was not "there" yet. I guess there were just too many shoulds and should'nts for me. I accepted that AA is were I belong for now, and in my own home on my knees. I still go to church occationally, and enjoy it. I hope you enjoyed your seminar. As for thinking about relapse, you know darn well who would know, you and God would know. Don't give up, remeber, one day at a time.

Anonymous said...

Are you still here? Hope you are OK, sending more prayers your way.:)