Strength remains a commodity we desire whether it’s physical, emotional, or spiritual. And in most cases, we know that the kind of strength we desire won’t happen overnight. We lift weights and exercise, knowing that we won’t be looking like a superhero for some time, if ever.
We push through painful disappointments and grieve private losses, feeling our emotions but not allowing them to overpower us. And spiritually, we strengthen our faith by praying spending time in God’s (as we understand Him/Her) World, and serving others.
Our spiritual strength, however, isn’t built on what we do but who we know. God is the source of our strength, and it’s our relationship with him that increases our strength, not any spiritual disciplines by themselves. many people can do “spiritual exercises” for the wrong reasons. If we’re committed to loving God, they are natural ways to flex the muscles of our heart.
CHALLENGE: Contact a loved one and share with them how spirituality–in whatever form it takes for you–is helping you with a problem.
Texts, emails, video calls, meetings, appointments, driving here and there. in our nano-paced mega-world, it’s hard to find real downtime when you’re unplugged from your cares and responsibilities both literally and mentally.
But it’s essential, not just for your mind and body but also for your soul. We need time away from all the usual demands and distractions so we can simply still ourselves before our Higher Power and quiet the chatter in our minds.
One of the best ways to ensure we get the rest we need is to schedule it. Just like any other appointment, we often need to pencil in time to do nothing! When we carve out the time and space to rest, our Higher Power refreshes us and renews our energy for the tasks to be done later.
QUESTION: What do you do to unplug and use time to experience sacred rest?
Chapter 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous, titled “More About Alcoholism,” talks more about the power of booze over the individual. It is a powerful testament to those who are still convinced that they can either control their drinking, or put it down for a while to return to it just fine at a later date.
There are many intelligent alcoholics. None of those people ever got up one day and said “Today I think I’ll be an alcoholic.” Alcoholism is a disease. Alcoholism has an effect on those predisposed to it that does not otherwise affect the normal drinker.
In the Big Book, Chapter 3 it says:
To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have. This is particularly true of women. Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.
No matter how smart you are, how much you think you can control your drinking, how much you can quit then start back up again, in the end alcohol will possess the alcoholic.
This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it–this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish
Ultimately, you must (Step 1) admit you are powerless over alcohol (Step 2) come to believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and (Step 3) make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him.
Then you are really ready to do the work that is suggested in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I am sure you all know, but I will tell you anyway. The “Big Book,” as it’s called, is the text of Alcoholics Anonymous and has remained virtually unchanged since it was first published in April of 1939.
Essentially it is a guide to becoming, and remaining sober. In the Big Book one can learn how to live by the 12 Steps, AA’s set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, as well as other problems the alcoholic will face in life.
I have read the Big Book a few times over my life. However, this is the first time I am really reading the Big Book. I have decided to spend time here studying this literature and, it is my hope, to be able to incorporate some of the principles it sets forth.
To that end I thought I would, on occasion, share some of my Big Book Musings with you. Share a passage that I find particularly meaningful, and apply it to my own life.
On page xxviii, The Doctor’s Opinion, I found a passage that spoke to me:
“They [alcoholics] are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks…”
Ah yes, how well I know these feelings. I am still feeling them today, 8 months into my sobriety. And, unless I find inner contentment and a Higher Power, I am probably doomed to feel restless, irritable and discontented forever.
I have also been working on gratitude, something that greatly reduces those negative feelings when I am mindful enough to practice it. It’s a lot easier said than done. We addicts want immediate gratification, and we want it yesterday!
I have gotten away from something that was really keeping me grounded: meditation! I really need to get back to meditation because, when I was practicing it, meditation kept me grounded and kept my mind at ease.
Replacing restless with restfulness, irritability with acceptance, and discontentment with gratification is not as difficult as it seems.
I find if I can remind myself of the opposite actions necessary to take to combat these 3 “killers” of affect, then I am nearly 90% of the way there. The other 10% is just sheer will on most days.
The chapter that gives most addicts and alcoholics fits is: We Agnostics, chapter 4 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Maybe I am going to be in for a rude awakening when I finally do enter the “real world,” because this recovery business is fairly straightforward to me. The following paragraph is CRITICAL in understanding how I remain sober, especially the “came to believe…”
Don’t drink, “came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity,” and “made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as we understood Him. The rest of the Steps of A.A. are elementary to me. That’s the Higher Power component for me. Replace “me” with “our” for the Big Book wording.
People are like “Omg, this A.A. business is so religious.” “I don’t believe in God.” “I don’t know what a Higher Power looks like.” Well, good thing you have me, right? LOL, I’m going to spell this out very plainly and simply for you–and, of course, these are just my opinions. This is what works for me: A Higher Power can be anything that is greater than yourself that will help keep you sober. Period.
As Chapter 4 points out:
If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.”
So, we can’t do it alone! The cornerstone of any 12 Step Program is this concept of a Higher Power. Without a spiritual awakening, in whatever form you choose it to be, we will continue to relapse and be lost. The Big Book goes on to say:
Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Yes, in the Big Book it walks about a “Supreme Being.” It talks about a “Creative Intelligence.” It talks about a “Spirit of the Universe.” I would argue that we are all from the same spirit. What keeps me alive–exclusive of physical anatomy–is what keeps you alive.
Do you honestly believe that when you die that’s the end of the show? People who believe in God believe they are going to heaven. People who believe in Buddhism believe that
“death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.” (source).
I believe that spirit does not die. I believe spirit is remade in some higher form or another. We cannot possibly have all this commonality, only to end up as worm food. My point is that this is some of my Higher Power. This belief that we are all connected. This belief that there is this awesome force controlling us; therefore, I rely on this wellspring to give me strength when I am weak. There is an awesome power that connects us folks, “they ain’t no de-ni-in dat.”
Chapter 4 suggests:
Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.
There is much more to cover from Chapter 4. We will surely be covering more down the road. Contemplate your beliefs and contemplate what the Highest possible Power is that you can imagine controlling the universe. I don’t care if you think that it is a frog that lives in the Rain Forest. Then, simply tap into that power for your strength. Voila, Higher Power.
There are those that say anything can be your Higher Power until you can tap into one that is greatest–God, Buddha, Allah, whatever. Your Higher Power could be your children. It could be, like me, a combination of things: The Great Oneness, Writing, Nature Contemplations. Some have suggested that A.A. (or any 12 Step Program) can be your Higher Power.
It doesn’t have to be this gigantic gorilla you have to wrestle down and kill. Simplify it to the highest force possible. Then, hang on for dear life until you have your legs under you. YOU CAN DO THIS!!