Chapter 4: We Agnostics

Having been raised in a religious family, I was, like so many of us were, told what God was. After years of praying as I was educated to pray, of believing I should have visions and conversations with God, and failing to make that sort of contact with It (I’ll refrain from using gender related terms about God, as I don’t believe It’s a “He” or a “She”) I had given up on my premature spiritual quest and grew into an agnostic myself. A lover of all sciences, I was quick to point out the fallacies in other’s logic behind their faith and assert that evolution, the Big Bang Theory, etc… were the forces at work in the Universe, and not a Supreme Being. Ironically, my belief in God today finds no contention in my belief in evolution or science, but rather the opposite; these are forces, greater than myself, which I believe are part of the totality of God.

I wasted a lot of energy and time looking for visual and tangible evidence of God’s existence. I had certain false ideas about what God was, and required the type of miracles written about in the Old Testament for proof of God’s existence. I also fancied myself exceptional, and fantasized that I would be given super powers, like Herculean strength, or at least be fire proof, as I was a budding pyromaniac and amateur bombologist in my youth. Needless to say I was never given the ability to walk on water, or even part my glass of milk like young Moses in the Far Side cartoon.

Shortly after leaving my church and losing my feeble faith I found alcohol, and God wasn’t as important to me. I had found a power greater than myself which seemed to solve my problems. I could feel alcohol in my veins, giving me the sensation of power I’d always wanted. I felt like Samson. Both Samson and I were vulnerable to untrustworthy women (that’s another story), and sobering up was the equivalent of cutting off my hair, so drinking as often as possible had its attractions. I drank as much as I could, as often as I could, for as long as I could. My drinking lifestyle soon became problematic, leading to DUI’s, several arrests, ER visits, loss of jobs, failed relationships, and so on. I tried as many forms of solving the alcohol problem as I could invent. Most of them relied upon me and my insufficient will power. I feared asking for help, and didn’t see how AA, which I’d found in my few halfhearted attempts, unsuccessful.

My bottom was when I finally admitted the futility of my controlling alcohol and the imagined impossibility of living sober the rest of my life. I experienced a nervous breakdown and destroyed my Dad’s basement. The following morning I received a call from my Dad, who’d been out of town at the time I broke into his house, stole his booze, and had a big boy temper tantrum. He told me he wasn’t angry, but rather concerned, and that it was time for me to get help again. I was so relieved to hear that he was offering the help I couldn’t ask for. He was willing to pay for my treatment. That day I called a treatment center and made an appointment for what would be an extended stay. My last two days of drinking were somber times, and not the debaucherous farewell I’d romanticized about when I would finally say good bye to alcohol and grow up. I’d accepted my hopeless situation and was willing to do, at that time, whatever it took to get sober. I’m able to look back on my bottom and interpret it as the moment when I allowed God to enter my life. Something had changed in me that night I broke down. I was graced by God, in the form of unbearable self inflicted pain, to the point where I was then willing to do what was necessary. I caused all that pain, but God made it so it was too uncomfortable to live that way any longer. That was the force that got me sober. To me that is Grace.

The most important line to me in this chapter, and one of the most helpful to me in my growing spirituality, is that “God is either everything, or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t.” This simplified my complicated way of looking at God, and summed it up perfectly. God is everything to me today. God is present in all life and matter, and is an unlimited force, available to me whenever I seek it. It’s taken me all of these past 2000 or so days of continuous sobriety for my conception of God to be what it is. I doubt I’ll ever understand what my Higher Power really is, but my faith continues to grow. I didn’t believe in God when I first came to AA. I had extreme difficulty in praying and practicing the suggestions and steps. I’m sober today, and I haven’t obsessed about alcohol in a very long time. I believe that God is responsible for this, as God is responsible for everything in my life today. I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was my first effective Higher Power, and I owe my life to this life changing program.

Patrick R.

 

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