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March 31 • Branding a Higher Concept

Day 631 Perhaps the most significant disconnect with the AA, SAA, and other 12 Step programs is the idea of a Higher Power. People who believe in God as a personable entity tend to reject the 'Higher Power' as some anti-faith creature that denies all in which they believe. People who resist the idea of divine beings to start with often see it as unnecessary and ignorant.

As with most extreme positions, those views are missing the point.

I spent a lot of years helping people in faith-based organizations and trashing the Higher Power phrase. Too often I have self-righteously proclaimed, "We all know who we're talking about, so let's just use the correct name: God, Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, etc." As I began seeing the program from the inside out instead of from the self-serving sidelines, I began to see the Higher Power concept very differently. I also started seeing the God of my Faith very differently. I'm convinced that both of these evolving perceptions are more accurate versions of what's true, and play distinctly essential roles in my life and my recovery.

Still, it was difficult for me to verbalize and even quantify those changing views, especially to some atheist friends that I knew needed the help that was available in the 12 Steps. I've always liked the guilty-pleasure humor of Russell Brand , but I did not know he was a recovering addict until I was an addict looking for perspective. His take on the Higher Power question is both simple and profound, and I highly recommend it. I don't know that I agree with every word of his explanation, but his attempts to clarify this pivotal point of the program spoke into my struggling heart in ways that drew me closer to both my Higher Power and my God. It may translate differently for you, but everyone I know that has read this book, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, has made similar observations.

There is no short quote that captures Brand's take on this, but the context in which he sets the question makes for a satisfying answer. After pointing out that he was brought into the 12 Steps by a "committed atheist," he explains, "An integral, unavoidable and in fact one of the best parts of this process is developing a belief in a Higher Power. Not that you have to become some sort of religious nut." My references to both my Higher Power and God as separate identities may not be precisely by the understandings of the 12 Step community. In fact, the injunction of many meeting scripts is, "...there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!" I turned my back on God and his desires for me, but I never lost Him. What I found through the Steps was my Higher Power. We can argue all day about whether it's the same, separate, different facets of whatever, but I see no reason to do that. I have been blessed with new relationships, from the divine to the guys in my meetings.

This view may not be perfect, but it is progress. That's enough for now. –JR

March 31 • Branding a Higher Concept
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