Contributor: Richard Anderson, author “From Darkness to Light: A Primer for Recovery”
In my experience the spiritual principles behind the second step are hope, belief and trust. The principle of faith is built upon the spiritual principles that precede it in the process of step work: Honesty, hope, belief and trust.
Step two is, again in my experience, a step given the most lip service but most often failed in the grasping of its inherent meaning and gravity. Step two is the step that frees us and gets us clean. Step one is monumentally important, but step two provides the actual mechanism for us to achieve complete abstinence.
It is the doorway to recovery. Abstinence and recovery, real and lasting recovery, cannot be achieved without hope. The recovery process essentially begins with honesty as found in step one, but cannot proceed and bear fruit without a thorough undertaking of step two. Allow me to elaborate on that last point.
The Power Greater than Myself
For me and many others like me, my first belief in a power greater than myself was the recovering people that surrounded me. From the beginning I learned not to rely on my own power.
This is logical in the beginning. The recovering people we encounter in the fellowship have a myriad of profoundly useful suggestions. They freely share with us their experience when asked. In the end, my experience has been that they are but flawed human beings like me.
While I cannot proceed without their support, I need a truly unfailing Higher Power to meet my spiritual needs. I need a Power greater than myself unbound by human frailties.
The Right to a God of Your Understanding
My spiritual beliefs have evolved dramatically from this humble beginning and that journey is for each individual to undertake for themselves. The chapter on the third step in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous says “the right to a God of your understanding is total and without any catches”.
No Individual Can Take This Awaythe concept of God espoused by another addict seeking recovery has no place in a meeting of addicts seeking recovery? It is ridiculous and absurd pretentiousness that can have the unwanted effect of causing an addict seeking recovery to feel stifled and alienated.
Alienation Can Lead to Relapse
Alienation is part and parcel to active addiction and precedes relapse frequently. Relapse can end in death. Addicts have every right to their beliefs and to share them freely whenever the feel so compelled.
If you are uncomfortable with people talking about God in a meeting and consider allowing it to chase you out of the rooms perhaps you would do well to remember what chased you into the rooms in the first place.
Every Day Was Another Victory
My hope was reinforced as I stayed clean. Every day was another victory. Every victory served to reinforce hope. This hope began to evolve into belief as I understood that there was something in my life working that hadn’t been there before. I was staying clean and for me it was the beginning of my spiritual awakening to realize that long-held dream that I could actually stay clean.
Belief blossomed and thus began the slow process of building trust. As days turned into weeks, then months, and then years my second step was strengthened. I had tried and failed so many times to get clean with all of the intelligence and fortitude I could muster.
Every time I had tried to get clean I had failed. Every time I failed I felt more hopeless. Now I was actually staying clean and learning how to recover. It was indeed the most precious of miracles.
When Have You Escaped the Consequences?
If you are struggling with the hope in the second step there are some suggestions I can make. Look back at your life and try to identify the times when you should have been. Should have been what? Times you should have been dead, incarcerated, injured etc.
Like a CSI investigator look for the times when your behavior should have landed you in a world of hurt but, somehow you managed to escape with minimal consequences or no consequences at all.
Using the Close Call as a Catalyst to Get Help
I am reminded of a true story. Apparently there was a guy who got together with friends every weekend to “party”. They gathered together at an apartment and each brought something to the party whether it be alcohol, drugs, whatever. This routine had been going on without fail for quite some time. The guy in question had a love interest that frequented this gathering and so had extra incentive to attend, and he always attended faithfully.
On this particular weekend this guy in question was unable to locate the drugs he was looking for. He, for some reason, decided to go home and rest instead of attending the gathering. He later found out that one of the people that attended this gathering had incurred the wrath of a sociopathic, homicidal maniac. While this guy was at home resting, every single person in that apartment was murdered.
Why was he spared? Why was I spared when so much I have done should have ended in my death or incarceration? I believe I understand the reason today. Such examples serve to reinforce that fact that there is a loving force in the universe looking out for me.
Life on Life’s Terms
Does this mean that the other people who were not fortunate enough to survive weren’t loved by this same Higher Power? No, not to me it doesn’t. Life on life’s terms can be tragic, and no one on the planet is ever truly safe from calamity. I don’t believe God has to prevent everything bad from ever happening in order to prove His existence to us.
Faith implies room for doubt. If we had all doubt removed by having every calamity prevented we’d have no opportunity to employ the spiritual principles we must when others suffer. I don’t believe God intended us to be a race of ungrateful, slothful, entitled automatons.
Humanity is at its best when we struggle to overcome an injustice, provide comfort to the afflicted, or pull together to build for our own betterment. I think He has things put together perfectly.
Careful About Expectations
I have learned to be careful about my expectations of this power. I have certainly learned that living a life in recovery earns me no special dispensation from my God that bad things will never happen in my life or that I will get everything I always wanted.
God, at least in my experience, isn’t Santa Claus. It isn’t as though if I do all the right things I get all of my heart’s desires at the end of the year. My expectations have to be realistic.
Being clean and recovering is an enormous gift from my Higher Power. He doesn’t owe me anything more than that. Deliverance from the hell on earth that I lived is quite sufficient for me. Nevertheless, He has continued giving me gifts as I have stayed clean and I have been able to work for things that I know I won’t lose overnight in a drug raid.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
How has hope and belief in a higher power impacted your recovery? What advice do you have to share with other that might be seeking their higher power?
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 31st, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com