When I was growing up, I was taught to pray in a very specific way. I was taught there was a format for prayer and that if you want to be blessed by god, you had to ask specifically for what you want. Not just asking “God please bless me to be healthy” but asking “God please help me lose 15 pounds so that I’ll fit into my prom dress on May 1st”. This kind of praying never felt connecting to me. Is it any wonder that after I left home and got out into the world, I lost any sense of god? Is it any wonder that in my mid 20’s I left the church I had been raised in and proceeded to reject all ideas of god? Believing myself to be above such debasing and devaluing concepts as trust in a higher power or faith, I lived the next 15 years without any concept of a higher power.
There’s a line in the Big Book that says if there was a devil, he certainly had me. I had more idea of the temptations of the devil than I had of a loving god. I got the idea growing up that I had to earn god’s love; that god’s love was conditional based on my performance, my perfect performance, of certain actions: specifically, obedience to rules and guidelines set up by the church I was raised in and my family of origin. The word ‘worthy’ was used a lot. And I did not feel worthy. I felt worthless, used, and unlovable. I sought comfort and enjoyment in food, and for brief periods of time, this balm worked to soothe my aching soul which was bereft of the light of god and the touch of a higher power. In the absence of light, the darkness is total.
What I’ve learned in this program is that a higher power must be personal to me. If you’ve got a mean god (like my original one was) then fire him and get a new one. I cannot ask for help from a power that doesn’t love and accept me completely, as I am right in this moment. This means letting go of my prejudices, pre-conceived ideas, and the thought that I know just what god is or what he’s capable of.
I’ve also learned that the point of working the steps is to have a spiritual awakening, a total psychic change that alters the way I think, speak, and behave in all circumstances of our lives. I am trying to align my will with god’s will for me. I am NOT trying to get god to change the problems I have in my lives, I’m changing how I respond to those problems. I am not trying to be able to eat normally and not suffer the consequences, I am gaining food neutrality and sanity. I am NOT trying to change the people around me, I are changing myself (or more correctly, allowing my higher power to change me) to be of maximum service to god and my fellows.
God is not a genie. I don’t ask him for what I want and expect him to grant my wishes. I ask to be a tool of his will, guided by a loving and all-powerful hand that sees everything and everyone. I seek to recover so that I may have usefulness and purpose in my life instead of selfishness and self-centeredness that plagued my former, unrecovered life. As I continue to recover, I continue to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. What I am capable of today is leaps and bounds from where I was in the height of my disease but it is also miles from where god wants to take me and the joy and power I can have in the future.