Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Higher Power, Where Art Thou?

I went to an early morning AA meeting.  I really couldn't afford the gas, but went anyway.  I needed hope and enlightenment.  We discussed the AA promises which are to your left.  The promises are read before every meeting and the power of the words always sends shivers down my spine.  From the despair that can be chronic alcoholism comes hope, and that is something amazing.

My biggest hang up with AA is the religious aspects.  My father is a staunch atheist and always taught us to have healthy skepticism of anything religious.  I want to believe and try to grasp the concepts of higher powers and God, but usually fall short.  I keep going, though, and hope some of this mysticism and religion rubs off on me.  I need to believe to stay sober.  Lately, I have been using the collective group of AA as my higher power, as I understand him. That can sometimes be lacking though. 

I also have to be careful with religion.  When I was in the throes of my schizophrenia and un-medicated,  I grew very religious.  Even going so far to reading the bible and believing God was sending me messages through the television and Internet.  I would watch the nightly news broadcasts and scribble down messages from God that Dan Rather was imparting to me.  It drove my then wife crazy.  So I have to temper my zeal for things religious as my experiences while mentally ill have left a bitter taste in my mouth. 


justLacey said...

Not everyone connects "God" to the bible and organized religion. There are some very interesting takes on higher powers and belief on Oprah's soul series. I think some of them are very interesting. Google it and see what some of them have to say. Maybe it will help you. Also look into Buddhism, you might find it more to your liking than the fire and brimstone aspects of some religions. I don't believe in all that.

Forward at Forty said...

OMG Andrew. You just gave me the ultimate gift. My birth grandfather is schizophrenic and a very disturbing phone call regarding him talking to God and God answering now has a understanding light! I get it! He was not taking his meds regularly and that's why he freaked out the way he did and called me screaming irrational stuff. Whew. That's a relief. I haven't known him very long, but he really upset me that day. Since then he's stablized with meds though sadly he'll never go home again and likely I will not have to many more years with him. My birth mother will not see me at all - that's a whole nother story for a different day! Thanks again.

Charlotte said...

Andrew, I have suffered from major depression since I was a teenager. My life has been a rocky road with my mental illness. It wasn't until I really accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and put all of my trust in Him that life really began to change for me. That was 12 years ago. And yes, I have had a few really bad episodes that I was very suicidal and hospitalized 4 times since then, but, my relationship with God is what got me through. Now it has been a long time since I've been that out of control. I take my medications as prescribed and never venture away from them because I know full well what will happen. You see... my mental illess is my 'thorn in the flesh' that the Apostle Paul talks about a lot in the book 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12. (biblegateway dot com is a great online bible resource.) I have accepted my illness and have actually shared my experiences in church related articles. I put a face on depression for the very large congregation that I serve (over 4,000 folks). I do not hide behind my illness anymore. I will pray for you, Andrew. I will pray that God makes himself known to you. I lean on His promises every day and my illness doesn't rule me anymore. I read your blog daily and you are an inspiration to me and to many others who suffer from some type of mental illness. Yes, you ARE an inspiration.

Grace and peace,

M said...

The radio program Speaking of Faith had a show about AA and religion. You can listen to it here: http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/recovery/

you might find it interesting. this program is not a show convincing people to be religious. it is more a journalistic examination of all sorts of religious ideas.

Bridget said...

I hear you about AA and the religious aspect being distasteful. I'm not alcoholic, but I have had situations where I've partaken too much, gotten into trouble when partaken or have had situations where I don't remember (like your businessman on planes) after partaking. Having said that, I have not looked into AA formally but have gone to meetings with friends. What put me off into investigating further was the religion. I'm pagan - I believe in a Higher Power, just not the organized religion variety. I prefer to use my own willpower/desires to temper my desires to drink or do something stupid. If it gets to the point where I can no longer do that, then the time will be to get medical or other help. I don't knock people who, for example, name Jesus as their Lord and Savior - all I am saying is that for me personally and many others, religion isn't that powerful. Some people don't have iron willpower and thus need stronger help to make whatever it is they're trying, work. Using religion as the sole solution to a complex issue like addiction is like saying that if someone prays hard enough over a smashed leg, that it will become whole without surgery and/or bone pins and casting. Religion can HELP, but you need more.

I also echo the opinion of anther poster. Buddhism, I think, might be useful for you to explore. It's not a "religion" so much as it's a way of life and thinking. Most Buddhist concepts (the biggest one being to live in a way that eliminates suffering) are applicable and useful to all people, regardless of belief.

Lynx217 said...

I think what matters most is that you believe there is SOMETHING higher than us out there. Otherwise, why do we try so hard to be good? If we're just worm food then why do good? And if we are worm food, we've lost nothing by believing there's something more. But what if there IS something better? If we're so convinced we're worm food, we'd be in for a big surprise! All I'm saying is that you should keep your mind open but guarded. Don't do good for any person, thing, or ideal. Do it because you know it's the right thing to do. Keep on the right path knowing that it's the right thing for you and maybe someday you'll be helping someone else along the path you've already walked. Just a few thoughts.

Thodgson said...

Hi Andrew,
I have not commented in a while, but I am here cheering you on!! We all fall short, don't ya worry about that and remember that it is all about relationship not religion. Anyone can put on robes, light candles, meditate, or whatever traditions and/or rituals but what matters is do you know him? Do you know Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with him? I too will continue to pray for you, Andrew. I pray that you feel Him close and that He may continue to bring you peace.
Take Care!

forsythia said...

Andrew, I am in awe of your candor and the breadth and depth of your postings. I get so much from your blog.

STACY'S TRIP said...

Hey Andrew,
I don't go for religion either....but I do go for spirituality. Its all about a relationship my friend. Its a two way street ya know? I am so proud of your 190d 11h 9 m and 1s