When we first came to recovery we already had a Higher Power. We worshiped it, followed its every command, and spent many hours a day in its service. It was the first thing we thought of in the morning, and the last at night. We were faithful to a fault — and usually beyond a fault. We obsessed on our Higher Power to the exclusion of family, faith, common sense and self-preservation. Finally, after it failed us one time too many, we ended up at the end of the line: treatment, the rooms of the recovery fellowships or whatever refuge we were able to find from our devotion to our addiction.
So why do so many of us have this problem with “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and the other references to a higher power “as we understood” it in our twelve step fellowships?
The principle behind the Second Step is hope, not religion. It says “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” [Emphasis mine] If I believe that the only power greater than me is God, then I’m really a sick puppy. If we wish, the “God” in the program can be considered metaphor for the people in the rooms, our support system, and the program itself — surely all higher powers than we, for purposes of recovery and learning a new way to live (and how other people choose to think of it is none of our business).
Our business is recovering from a chronic, deadly disease, and we’d better use all the tools available! Our best efforts got us where we are today. No one is saying that we have to believe in a God or gods, but we’d darned well better be able to admit that we aren’t him, we can’t recover from our addictions alone, and that we need the guidance of a “higher power” that knows more about recovery than we do.
There’s a word for addicts who try to recover on their own — who use the word “God” as an excuse to avoid the work needed to change our lives and stay sober.