Say “Hello” to my Higher Power

By John W

As I am sure was true with many, I did not arrive at the rooms of A.A. on the wings of victory. Not long after I crashed and began burning on A.A.’s doorstep I found out that it was also often true that folks like me, who thought they had a vibrant spiritual life, discovered the opposite, which was that it was precisely this aspect of their life that had had become damaged and needed treatment if the drinking problem was to be successfully addressed. This challenge, this need to come to believe was the next skirmish I confronted in my battle with alcoholism. My sponsor had done a great job in preparing me to take the step, but said one plank of it was mine and mine alone. I was the only one who would determine with what I was I coming to believe would restore me to sanity. 

What was my conception of a Higher Power, or if you will as did I, of God? Because I had grown up Catholic, and remain so to this day, I had an early and for me quite pleasant, wonderful and beautiful experience of God. I did not come to see him as a white-haired old man, a pseudo-Santa Claus, sitting in the clouds with a big ledger in his lap, making checks on one side for my naughtiness and on the other side for my niceness. I had seen him as a gentler, kinder figure, much like my father Bob or and my dear uncle John. Each in their own way loved children, welcoming them into their home like my dad or into their machine shop, like my Uncle John. They each used such encounters to “teach” the curious youths like me, as to how to approach dealing with the tasks at hand, in other words how to live life on life’s terms. This could be anything from how to better interact with my three sisters as their then only brother, to how to repair a damaged piece of metal with a lathe and hand file. If, as I had grown up believing, these men, my mom, my sisters and I, that is everyone, had been made in the image and likeness of my God, then I wanted that God to resemble these two men most of all as they were kind, positive and powerful influences in my life. 

That rhapsody with the spiritual side waivered for me after I began drinking and, as a young, single man, got overcome by heartier drinking, mixed with playing rugby, a sport that I loved, chasing girls and working to achieve a professional degree in law. This combination of pursuits did not enhance or otherwise foster my spiritual growth. On the outside I had hung my legal shingle, got engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl from an upbringing which mirrored mine and had the world at my command. On the inside my drinking was getting worse and eating me alive. Overlooked were the legal problems, a wrecked car in a blackout, later DUIs, and stupid antics at social gatherings unbefitting a man of my stature. These shortcomings were all rationalized in one of a hundred different ways, none every being that I had a problem with alcohol. 

Following the exchange of the “I dos”, I began trying to hide my drinking because I quickly realized that my wife was not as keen on my deportment and demeanor after I had had a few. This subterfuge of course only enhanced the marital discord and my lies to cover my transgressions just made everything worse. After over a decade of marriage, with divorce court in the immediate future and business and personal bankruptcies on the looming horizon, I was finally approaching that last house on the block, the one where “those meetings” occurred. The months that passed while I listened but failed to understand the importance of the not drinking part of our Program had at least given me the opportunity to hear how others had ”come to believe.” When I was finally honest with my fellows about my continued drinking and the miracle of the obsession being lifted occurred, my sponsor and I worked the Steps. He helped me to see I had to develop my conception of a God that would restore me to sanity and thus I turned to the faith of my youth again. I asked myself what it was about that conception of God that had so intrigued me in my younger days. While not a complex answer, upon reflection it seemed I arrived at it only by measured steps.

I believe because I had the willingness to search, the door of which we are told we will most assuredly confront, was indeed ajar for me. So it was that the slightest nudge was enough to spring it open and allow me its threshold to cross. It seemed however not that I was in some familiar space or land. Rather, it was as if I had alit from the gangway of an arriving ship and stepped onto a new and wonderful place, a land of serenity. I had the thought that I was meeting an old friend, like a college roommate I had not seen in years. This was my Higher Power greeting me with open arms. I could almost feel his warm hug envelop me, almost hear him say “I’ve missed you.” Since taking that step, the relationship—and yes, I do see it as a relationship—seems to have steadily strengthened as time has passed. 

The moments of indecision seem fewer and farther apart than before. The sense of calm which more often comes upon me, leads me to speculate about what pilots describe as flying through the eye of a hurricane. I wonder whether that which I am experiencing is a personal variant of this phenomenon of mother nature. Like my old friend imagined, I have grown able to tell this new old friend again found everything and anything. I can ask him for help, in the same way I now tell you about that request, and know that he is listening. I have even started to grasp the reality that just because  I know he hears me, does not necessarily mean the answer will come in the manner requested or in the fashion of which I had hoped. But this is a reality I have come to accept completely. 

This is how I describe my God, my Higher Power. Someone to whom you can offer your most heartfelt or anguished “hello” with comfort in the certainty that he will hear it. He will ask you to come join him, to rest a bit in the shade and quiet of a tree’s cool boughs on a warm day and share a draught from a rustling rill trickling by. Best of all, I no longer feel alone. I have come to believe all will be well if I just trust in him. You too should feel free to say “hello” to him (or her). You will be heard, you will not be alone anymore.

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