Grapevine Online Exclusive

From the August 2015 magazine.

Many Powers Greater Than Me

A member describes how he came to practice Steps Two and Three

When I got to AA, Steps 2 and 3 reminded me of my unsuccessful attempts at mental gymnastics as a child and youth at the Lutheran church my mother sent me to. I was told that only complete faith in Jesus as savior counted, and that was pretty elusive. I tended to ask wiseacre questions like, "What happens to the kids who are born in Saudi Arabia. Was God prejudiced?"

An AA friend said that she was walking down a street in Canberra when a sidewalk evangelist accosted her. He said that she would go to hell if she didn't accept certain things. She said that the God she believed in wouldn't be that narrow-minded. The man exclaimed that, "God's very narrow-minded!" That reminds me of something Voltaire said: "God created man in his own image. And man returned the favor."

I couldn't seem to find the bits in the Big Book or 12 Steps and 12 Traditions where they told how to take Steps 2 and 3, but I got a lot out of Came to Believe. With all the stories in it about how members were able to take these Steps, I would think just about anyone could find something they could relate to. In one story, I read that somebody came to believe that something was running things, and it wasn't them, and I could accept that.

At a meeting last night, which included a reading about this Step, it hit me that I had always thought of it as being about finding God. But now I think is more about just accepting that I need help and that there is something, or someone, that could help me. One guy said that he told an older member that he just couldn't believe. He was told to just substitute "hope" for "believe" making it, "Came to hope that a power greater than ourselves could return us to sanity." That seems pretty sensible to me and something those who could only hope to be returned to sanity could accept.

Refusing to believe seems more of a question of ego than real doubt. The world is full of powers greater than myself. I heard an anecdote once in which a guy told his sponsor that he just couldn't believe in a power greater than himself. He was told to go to the middle of the main street and take off all his clothes, and that he would soon see a power greater than himself coming up in a blue and white car.

The only trick is to believe that at least one of those powers could restore me to enough sanity so I would not feel the need to drink again. Being surrounded by others in meetings who have clearly been able to do that, it is hard to not accept that it is possible. It is just a matter of accepting that I need help.

—Jim F.

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