A lot of people who come into the program have a hang up about the God thing. It’s a real thing. Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
An important consideration here is that it is a God of your own understanding. So as long as it’s not you and it’s not someone else or alcohol it can be whatever you like. Some people say the Universe, or Nature or the Ocean. Different people have all sorts of different conceptions of God. Others have come up with clever acronyms for G.O.D. like “Group of Drunks” or “Good Orderly Direction”. There’s even the classic story that floats around at meetings about the guy who prayed to a door knob. Tell us how to sign up for that cult. We hear the Kool-Aid is delicious!
If you don’t think you believe in God or aren’t sure, check out the chapter “We Agnostics” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. There’s some really level headed guidance in there. One of the most important takeaways we have found from that chapter is that like it or not, admit it or not, we all worship somewhere. So whether you think you “believe” in a Higher Power or not, you have a Higher Power. It’s impossible not to. You’ve probably been kow-towing at the altar of booze and your own ego for some time now.
Some people have also had negative experiences prior to coming into the program in their religious institution. Sometimes there is real trauma there. Other times people have just said, if this is the version of God that I don’t want that anymore. And then they shut the door on any connection to God because of a bad experience. If this is the case for you, first of all, we are sorry for that experience. And secondly, we invite you to consider the possibility that you could develop a conception of a higher power much different from the one associated with negative events in your life. It could be a new beginning. Keep an open mind.
For a lot of newly recovering Alcoholics, just accepting the possibility that there could be a power greater than themselves is enough of a start. This opens the door for the spiritual change that needs to happen in order for us to be of better service to the world and our fellows. In the book, it even talks about how most spiritual experiences are of the gradual variety rather than the sudden shift that Bill felt. It is not uncommon to have ups and down with our connectedness to spirituality. It is not uncommon to change our perception of a higher power. The most important thing is that we keep coming back and working the program one day at a time.
So, in summary, you don’t have to believe in God. You do, however, have to be open to something bigger than yourself than can help you with your problem. For today, it might just be attending a meeting, or calling someone in the program, or beholding the beauty of a flower. Just start small and we promise that it will grow within you. The only thing that you need is an open mind.