Kelli, Swetha, and Spencer discuss Step 2: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Spencer talks about the first 3 words of the step: First, he “came”. After some time in Al-Anon, he “came to.” As he started to recover, he “came to believe.” Swetha found it easy to believe in a power greater than herself, because she was doing a lousy job of taking care of things. For her, a higher power is anything that restores her to sanity, whether it’s a meeting or a sunset. Kelli had no definition of a higher power when she came into the program, and those first three words gave her space and time to find her path.
We move on to discussing our understanding of “a higher power.” Swetha came to understand her higher power as a loving force that she can rely on to help her stay serene and sane. Spencer thinks he resisted coming to a 12-step program because he was unable to accept a judgemental, controlling God. At the beginning, he could accept that the Al-Anon groups were a power greater than himself. He came to free himself of the need to be able to name or picture his higher power, and now he finds God as a loving spirit that manifests in many ways. Kelli agrees that we don’t have put a name or shape on our higher power, and that it made it easier for her to accept Step 2.
Kelli asks whether it’s possible for an atheist to be in the program and to work the steps. Spencer suggests that the answer is “yes,” if we can detach “higher power” from the traditional “God” idea. One friend in the program finds his higher power in his dog — his dog loves him unconditionally and lives in the moment. Swetha was a “hard-core atheist” when she entered the program, at least partly because she was rejecting a judgemental God. For her, Step 2 was easy because she saw it as not about finding God—it was about finding a power different from herself that could lead her to sanity. She says it’s a spiritual program. It’s about finding connections between her and everything else. Kelli suggests reading the “agnostics” chapter in the AA big book.
What is sanity? What is insanity? Kelli defines sanity as not being anxious or stressed out, and “staying in her own hula hoop.” When she focusses on herself and not on trying to control other people, her life is more sane. For Swetha, it is being aware of who she is, regardless of what is going on around her, or what other people are saying and doing. Spencer’s insanity often takes the form of “circular thinking”—running the same (negative) thoughts over and over, like a hamster on a wheel running and running and never getting anywhere and being unable to get off. He needs to get off, and contact with his higher power helps him to do that. He is trying to figure out what what it means to pray. He knows it’s not “Please, God, give me a pony!”
Kelli reminds us that by incorporating prayer and meditation into her daily routine, it makes them much easier to turn to in times of trouble. Swetha is able to incorporate prayer and meditation into her life, pausing and retreating into a quiet place when she needs a moment to “be still and know that I am with you.”
Our topic for next week will be “What is Al-Anon?” We would really like to get as many voices as we can for this discussion. Add your thoughts to the conversation, tell us what Al-Anon means for you. Call 734-707-8795 and leave a voice mail, or email email@example.com. We will play your voice message or read your email into the show.