By Max M., Renascent Alumni
Step 11 of the 12-step recovery program encourages people to reach out to God and to accept that God has a plan for their life.
Today, I know this Step is the most important part of my program. But early in my recovery, I told my sponsor “I can’t get the God thing.” I’m not religious, and I don’t like people preaching to me.
Even though I was raised in a Catholic household, I never really believed in anything. If there was a God, why would He let me be an addict for 30 years? Why would He let my mother suffer with cancer? I had so many questions, and not a lot of answers.
My sponsor asked me to try anyway. I had to learn to accept that there was something bigger than me, a Higher Power. So I tried to open myself to the idea, although in the beginning I felt like one of those people who tells you to “fake it until you make it.”
It turns out, I have lots to pray about. I thank God for keeping me clean and sober. I ask for help for others who are still suffering. I pray for my family. I pray for people living with mental illness.
The amazing thing is, I can’t explain to whom I’m praying. It’s not the God of my youth, the one I was forced to visit in a church. All I know is I speak to a Higher Power each morning, through the day, and every night. It sets up my day and helps to ground me a little bit. I haven’t missed a day of prayer in 31 months. It truly makes a difference. I can’t explain it, but it works.
Although I now have faith, I realize that many others are back where I started. I always tell people not to be put off or discouraged by the idea to talking to God. Your sponsor will help you learn prayers at the Third and Seventh Steps that will prepare you for Step 11. When you’re speaking to a Higher Power, it doesn’t have to be the God of an established religion. It’s the God of your understanding, whatever or whomever that may be.
All I know is that before I surrendered, I went to rehab five times and couldn’t get a day sober. The fact that I’ve now been clean for 31 months shows it’s not me doing this alone. There is definitely something bigger than me at work. I’m about to turn 58 and I haven’t been clean this long since I was 12 years old.
My best advice? Stay open to faith, even if you feel like you’re “faking it” until you believe. I promise it will be worth it.