Recovery Without God
(©1999 World Service Office, Inc.)
It seems that I’ve been searching all of my life for something to believe in. Finally, in 1982, after fifteen years of nonstop drug abuse, I crawled into the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. Though I was barely recognizable as a human being, I found in those rooms the hope that had eluded me for so long.
Upon receiving my first hug at my first NA meeting, I knew that I had come home. What I found especially appealing were the choices I had been given — the choice to not use, just for today, and the choice to have a Higher Power of my own understanding. For the most part, not using just for today proved to be much easier than finding a Higher Power.
Over the years in recovery, I tried many different gods: Jesus, Buddha, Saraswati, Vishnu, and countless others. But I found that trying to believe in an intangible and invisible being or force left me empty and longing for more.
What worked for me in early recovery, as well as today, is using the group as a power greater than myself. Actually it is the unconditional love that I get from the group and members of NA that I believe is a Higher Power — certainly greater than anything of which I’m capable alone.
Does this mean that I pray or meditate to the group? Of course not. Prayer is simply a petition, and meditation merely reflecting — it does not have to be directed to anything, anyone, or any deity in particular.
How can I possibly have any purpose or meaning in my life without a god? I believe my purpose in life is to develop into the best me that I can be.
Finally, with what do I maintain a conscious contact, and from where do I seek comfort, if not a god? Today I find comfort in knowing that I am living a healthy, good, clean life and that I am not harming others or myself. I can maintain a conscious contact by holding love close to my heart.
I seek to do the right thing for the right reason. I attempt to move my life forward in a good, orderly direction, and I do my best to incorporate the principles of our steps, traditions, and concepts into each day, I stay close to the program by going to meetings and sharing with my sponsor and sponsees. Today I accept my humanity. I know I’m not perfect, just a perfect human being.
My most significant spiritual awakening was when I realized that the power is in me. I cannot rely on a mythical being or force to do for me what I cannot do for myself, nor do I wish to. After a lifetime spent trying to be everything to everyone, I now know that it begins and ends with me. I have to do the footwork, I must make the effort, and I need to seek the solutions.
As it states in It Works: How and Why, today I have the ability to “live with dignity, love myself and others, laugh, and find great joy and beauty in my surroundings.” I believe that life is an adventure waiting for me to discover all of its intricacies, not something to dread. I embrace the life that NA has given me today, and in spite of all the pain, loss, grief, and fear that I’ve experienced over the years, I relish every waking moment. I love life today.
I recently read something that, for me, says it all: “The meaning of life is to live a life of meaning.” Today, with the help of NA, its principles, the friends I’ve made, and the people I’ve met along the way, I’m capable of living such a life.