My Atheist Higher Power
When I arrived at my first Al-Anon meeting, desperate and upset about a family member, I heard things that gave me hope. But the Twelve Steps’ talk of “God” made me very uncomfortable. A lifelong atheist, I had no desire to “get religion.” Moreover, I disapproved of those who thought differently. Now I seemed to be in a room filled with such people.
“Gradually I realized that acknowledging how many things in the universe are beyond my control–from ocean tides to other people’s ideas–didn’t diminish me or compel me to accept anything I didn’t believe.”
I kept coming back, though, because so many other things I heard in those early Al-Anon meetings gave me at least momentary relief from the anger, guilt and shame I felt about what had happened to my family. And gradually I realized that acknowledging how many things in the universe are beyond my control–from ocean tides to other people’s ideas–didn’t diminish me or compel me to accept anything I didn’t believe. Instead, I began to feel liberated from my endless and always unsuccessful struggle to make everything around me align with my idea of what was right.
I am still an atheist. But working with a sponsor, working the Steps and listening to other Al-Anon members eventually led me to a concept of a Higher Power that might seem abstract to some but works for me. I still say “God” when I read the Twelve Steps or say the Serenity Prayer, but I define that word for myself, without worrying how others interpret it.
I also came to see that questions of faith pose challenges for just about everyone at one time or another, no matter what we believe, or don’t. To me, the ability to share our personal understanding of what spirituality means, and to listen to each other with acceptance and appreciation, is one of the most precious things about the Al-Anon fellowship.
by Tessa, El Cerrito CA