One of the most significant concepts of the 12-step program of recovery can be difficult for those whose beliefs don’t align with the typical vision.

I remember being told in meetings that “EGO” was, essentially, “edging God out.” Not mentioning “Him” or crediting “Him” for your success in staying sober would raise many eyebrows.

We were told that “A.A. works for people who believe in God. A.A. works for people who don’t believe in God. A.A. never works for people who think they are God.”

I was also taught, in meetings, that “A.A. isn’t a religion. We can’t open the gates of Heaven and let you in, but we can open the gates of Hell and let you out.”

All of it confused me, as a newcomer, all those years ago.

The program literature clearly states that we surrender to a power greater than ourselves—as we understood that greater power to be. It’s important because we’re told that our journey to wellness begins only when we surrender to that higher power.

Sure, for many people, that is the Abrahamic God. Others rely on the deity or deities of a different faith. And, for some of us, there is our ancestral religion and the polytheistic or pantheistic worship of nature as the divine.

The program was never meant to exclude atheists or agnostics, either. They may see their higher power as their higher consciousness and moral compass. You don’t need a religion to have either of those things.

God can even be a celebration of all that is good, believing all that is good is God. GOD, as many have said, also stands for “good orderly direction.”

When we look at it that way, the program’s God-related slogans apply, regardless of our vision of the divine.

Let Go and Let God.

Trust God.

If God seems far away, who moved?

But for the Grace of God, there go I.

And because we are advised to pray daily, we are reminded, in the program, that trying to pray is praying, and that prayer can be well wishes, good thoughts, positive energy, and just sending love and light.

Spirituality is the ability to get our minds off ourselves and to rely on better judgment, regardless of where that comes from on a day-to-day basis. And just wanting to be a decent human being counts. It counts a lot.

Feature photo at the top by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

Sober graphic made by D.K. Sanz on Canva

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