As I mentioned in part one, I grew up in a Catholic household, and at that time, Catholicism was overseen by a punishing, angry, vengeful God who, by the way LOVED you! I could not reconcile myself with this sort of God so I rejected Him, the church and everything associated with the whole deal. When I got to the rooms of recovery though and you pointed me in the direction of the spiritual solution I began a quest and, using the “loophole” Ebby brought to Bill and some basic ingenuity on my part, I came up with an idea. If I could really choose my own concept of a Higher Power I would do just that. And because I am a visual guy I wanted to do it in a way that I could see easily on paper.
What I did was get a regular piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, top to bottom, making two columns. And about a half-inch from the top I drew a line across the page, left to right, leaving me with two columns and two column headers. In the left column header I wrote “What I WANT in a Higher Power,” and in the right column I wrote “What I DON’T WANT in a Higher Power.” Simple stuff. Then I went about making two lists. In making these lists I considered that the very best I had to offer were attributes – something that describes the nature of something – and I landed pretty easily on what I don’t want, so I started there. I put down the words punishing, angry and vengeful, those words describing the God of my childhood. And in the WANT column I wrote the words kind, loving and generous. And I went back and forth, listing what I wanted and didn’t until I got stuck.
I’ve found in the years I have given this talk to groups I work with that they get stuck pretty quickly, not having taken the opportunity to consider a Higher Power of their own creation. When they get to that point, I gently nudge them, in much the same way I nudged myself. I ask them, “What are you looking for in a friend? What are you not looking for in a friend?” That catches some traction for a bit, and then they get stuck again and I ask them, “What are you looking for in an intimate partner, perhaps a boyfriend, a wife, a significant other?” And then they get going for a bit more and eventually get stuck again. I ask them to look at the two columns, and see if there’s anything in one column whose opposite might be in the other. They do that for a bit, and at the end of the exercise they’ve come up with robust lists of attributes, clear descriptions of what they do and don’t want.
You can do the same thing – grab a piece of paper and make your columns and your lists, challenge yourself, use the above instructions, follow them as written and see what you come up with. And then do the next part…