Ahh, don’t you just love Google searching? I do. I wanted to explore the second step of the twelve step program, so I googled “Step 2 reflections 12 steps” and bam! I came across a gem of a reflection that perfectly expressed what it’s like to move from rock heavy, stuck in place doubt, to finding little places of movement, lightness, willingness to see from a different perspective, to give something else a chance to exist (in our minds).
Here’s an excerpt from the reflection, written by a member of Alcoholics Anonymous:
My sponsor said “Do you believe that I have a God of my understanding?” I said “Yeah, I think you probably have one.” He said “Do you believe that I am sober?” And, I said, “Yes. I believe you are sober.” Then, he said, “If I’m an alcoholic, then how am I staying sober?” I said…. “Geez, I don’t know. How are you staying sober?” (I guess you can tell by my brilliant intelligence, that in some areas I’m obviously a slow learner!).
So he tried again. “Do you believe in any kind of Higher Power?” I said, “I’m not sure.” He said “would you be willing to believe in a Higher Power?” I said that “I’m not sure if I can.” He said “How do you think all the alcoholics in A.A. are staying sober?” And, I said “They have a God, they have a Higher Power.” And, then he said “Well can you go to A.A. meetings and believe that the alcoholics there have a Higher Power that is keeping them sober?” And, I said “Yeah. I can do that.” He said, “Then I want you to go to meetings and be around A.A.’s who have a Higher Power. Hang out with them. And, start praying to whatever Higher Power that you think is around there that you can come to believe in it.” I said “Okay. I can do that.”
I’m not totally sure when it happened. But over time, I was able to discover many powers that were greater than me. Here’s an example. Try to jump up in the air and just stay there. Try it more than once. If you are able to succeed my hat is off to you. You are a power greater than the power of gravity. I’m not.
If you do not believe that electricity is a power greater than you… try putting a light bulb in your hand and make it light up by using your own energy. There is no power in the light bulb.
Have you heard of “magnetic fields?” Ever used a compass? A compass has no power in itself. Yet, the needle will always point to true north. That’s because of the magnetic field of the earth. Try to get the needle to point south… on it’s own. It can’t do it. The magnetic field of the earth is a power greater than the compass. And, if you know how to read a compass… the compass is a power greater than you… even though it has no power of it’s own. It can get you “unlost” if you are lost… if you know how to use it.
Plant a seed in good soil and water it and give it sunlight. The seed will grow into a plant of its type. That’s because the seed is using several powers greater than the seed… and it grows. Try holding the seed in your bare hand and see if it grows. If it doesn’t grow… that means there are powers greater than you.
You say “Yes. But those are all the results of a scientific application of applied principles.” And, I say “Yes, the application of applied principles are also a power greater than me.” There may be no power in the principles… but if you apply them, (that’s application), something happens as a result of your actions.
The 12 Steps are “Spiritual Principles.” There is no power in the principles. We do not have to believe that they will work for us. But, we must take the actions to take the 12 Steps to find out if they will work for us.
Wow. I loved his mention of the forces of nature. My father possessed a deep respect for physics, the scientific method, and all things from the natural world, and in the course of growing up with him, he imparted this respect to me and a sense of awe as well. So it’s no wonder that this step 2 reflection really resonated with me. Here was something I could sink my teeth into. Gravity. Yes! Electricity! Yes! Magnetism. Yes! Little seed growing. Yes, YES! All powers greater than I am. And then the idea of taking action, of applying these principles to further my understanding, to test these hypotheses–well, this really appealed to my inner scientist. But can my scientist accept a higher power? Will this question give rise to a crisis of faith? What do I have faith in anyway? Gravity, electricity, magnetism, the power of the seed to sprout…but God?
It’s normal to have crises of faith. Taking time to rethink one’s beliefs, to hold them up to the lens of experience, really examine them and decide if they can continue to be of value to us–this is an intelligent, mature place to be, and deepens our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the universe that surrounds us and dwells within us. Crises of faith don’t have to be tragic, awful experiences, problems in and of themselves. Given time, patience, and an earnest desire to understand, anyone can open to a greater vision of themselves and the world, and they can call this experience of opening whatever they will–learning, spiritual awakening, evolving, growing…The drive to seek this experience of opening comes from a belief–or faith–that there is something greater out there, something that remains to be understood, or grasped, or challenged, or observed.
This belief–this faith–in something greater is a wonderful quality for people to possess, wouldn’t you agree? I like to spend time around people who have faith in what could exist beyond our own limited understanding–I like to directly experience all the different ways their faith is expressed; I enjoy hearing their stories, and I try to tune into my own thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as I watch and listen–to see if anything that they share resonates with me. I know I still have a lot to learn. I’m glad I have this day to learn something new. What a wonderful, open, refreshing place to be, to know I don’t know everything!
The real trouble comes when we get stuck in an either/or scenario: Either I’m a scientist, or I believe in God, but I can’t do both. The rational mind loves to compartmentalize, to view in terms of black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. We get stuck teeter-tottering on a thin line of numbers written out as proof that our inner computer has calculated correctly. We might desperately cling to this thin line, only to discover that it isn’t much to hold on to, and it’s slipping out of our grasp! I find this clinging to the dualistic mind to be a dark, claustrophobic, heavy, suffocating place to be, and nowhere that I want to spend any length of time. If I get stuck in my linear mind, I find myself miserable, trying to claw my way out, to find a full breath, to escape the constriction placed around my spirit, my creativity. Oh how I yearn to breathe!
We’re halfway through February, and I have certainly come to believe that a power greater than myself can restore my life to sanity. And it didn’t involve me dragging myself along kicking or screaming, either–or putting on a facade of belief. It could be the power of the people who have already restored their lives to sanity, and the example they have set forth for me to observe. It could be the power of the earth spinning on its axis, or how the sun’s bright light shines in my window today. It could’ve been the full moon at 4:30 this morning, and how Venus glowed so brightly on the horizon I had to blink and blink again before I realized what it was.
All of these powers greater than myself…all of them working together in perfect harmony, achieving balance, finding ease without a single rational thought on their part. I’m starting to think that it’s more a homecoming, this restoring my life to sanity: As I peel away the excess of my thoughts, the universal essence is revealed to me. I come back home to it, only to realize I could never have left it. It was always right there. It was always who I was, who I am now.