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April 1994

Journey of the Spirit

Fortunately for me, I met a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous just before my entire life fell apart due to my drinking. This AA told me about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. He said that if I ever felt my drinking was a problem and I wanted to stop, I should call the local central office. In July 1984, when I was emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually spent, I did just that and asked where the next closest meeting was being held. That night, I walked through the door of the meeting hall and into a new life.

Once the fog of drinking cleared, I noticed the Steps on the wall. Most of them seemed okay to me with the exception of the third one: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him." I knew this would be some trouble for me. I had been raised with religion but had long since lost my faith in God.

During my early sobriety, I listened intently whenever someone shared about Step Three. It seemed that everyone subscribed to the same concept: 1) The Steps needed to be taken in order. 2) Step Three was essential. 3) If you failed to take all the Steps you would drink again. So I knew that I had to come to believe in the God that everyone spoke about. I knew that for me to drink was to die. I didn't want to do either.

My sponsor directed me to get down on my knees and pray. She said that I didn't need to believe, just do the action and the feelings/belief would come later. I continued to follow her direction for years and prayed on my knees every morning and every night. After a few years of sobriety, I began to share about Step Three as best as I could. But looking back, I realize that I was mainly restating what I had heard.

The people who befriended me were sober alcoholics and most were Christians or believed in the Judeo-Christian God. I was invited to church, and eventually I joined. My life was full of activity. I went to work, AA meetings, and church events. I had little time for anything else. This went on for more than three years. I convinced myself that I believed. I got married. I had a good job. Things were good. I attributed it to the God to which I prayed every morning and evening. But some time later, I lost everything. I lost my job. My marriage failed. Nearly everything that I had acquired in my four-and-a-half years of sobriety was gone. I realized then that my belief in God was gone too. I never really believed. But I was still sober.

The next year was a lonely year. All my sober/Christian friends wanted nothing to do with me, because I was talking about my true feelings. I told them that I didn't believe in their God. Occasionally, someone would call to see if I was still sober, always adding that if I didn't return to belief in God I would surely drink. I decided to do the things that made me happiest.

Since I was no longer spending all my time running from one event to another, I had time to spend with myself and to go out away from the city. I took long walks. I traveled to many beautiful places. I got in touch with myself and with nature. I found that I loved to be with plants and animals. I found a peacefulness in nature that wasn't in the city. I found feelings I hadn't had since I was a small child. I learned about flowers and trees. I reconciled myself to being alone in the meetings and in my life because I thought no one would understand. At the very least I was finally honest with myself and with everyone else, and I was sober too. I began to experience moments of great calm deep within me.

My life began to change and to get really good. I found my soulmate and we have two children together. We moved to a rural area. We have three dogs and some land. We planted some flowers and vegetables. Things are better now than I could have ever imagined. I spend my time with my mate, kids, animals, and plants. At nine years of sobriety, life is better than ever, even though I still don't believe in "God."

I am grateful that the people in AA showed me how to live sober. However, I have learned many things from other sources. I learned about quiet from the breeze floating through the grass on a warm summer day. I have learned unconditional love from my animals. I have learned how to have wonder of the world from my children. I have learned that all things have tremendous power. My teachers have taught me to have respect for all living things, rather than a reverence for a concept within church walls.

I write this to anyone who may feel similarly. You are not alone in your feelings. The Judeo-Christian God is not what will keep you sober. There is a power greater. Believe in yourself. There are many wonders that await you on the journey. Good speed to you.

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