This morning someone asked me how an atheist does step eleven. This person seemed a little incredulous, perhaps even angry, pointing out that the original authors intended this as a spiritual program, helpfully pointing out that it was “God” in the book, not “higher power.” So I wonder if this person really wants to know how I work step 11 or if they want to argue about whether someone like me belongs in the rooms.
If it was a rule that I had to profess a belief in God I’d have to leave since that would put me in the untenable position of having to practice a program of rigorous honesty while lying. I’m not leaving and I’m not going to lie either. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting (SA), or to stop addictive sexual behavior (SAA). I qualify. I’ve earned my chair and have an absolute right to participate fully. My life depends on staying sober so perhaps I’m overly sensitive to the suggestion that I can’t be a part of unless I profess a willingness to believe in a deity. That’s bullshit. I belong.
Most people in the rooms are not atheists and just like I learn from how believers work their program (obviously since I’m the only atheist in recovery I know) they can learn something from hearing how I work my program. So although I do mind the insinuation that I don’t belong, I don’t mind explaining how I work my program.
Here’s how I do step eleven:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Prayer is an expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship. Worship is reverence, adoration, or devotion show toward a person or principle. I guess reality is the best name for the principle I am devoted to. I am grateful that I exist, that the universe exists. I consciously revere and adore existence. I crave an increase in my knowledge of everything, but most especially how I can better align myself with reality. To work step eleven, I think deeply about this.
To keep from becoming overwhelmed by my feelings, I pick one thing to think about. Yesterday it was cars. It’s a little embarrassing to share because I felt rapturous when I wrote it. It’s always a risk to expose a very private part of myself. But it’s pretty safe here; after all, I’m the absolute dictator of my delete button.
How amazing it is that life exists. This planet is just such an amazing place – and human beings are truly amazing animals! And I’m one, I’m here, and I know I’m here. I exist in such a wonderful manner, we all exist in an complicated social network that’s become global. And I’m here to witness that. Someone had the idea of little explosions driving a piston and now all of us can drive. I drive and I don’t have the first clue about how to extract metal from the earth and shape it into all the different parts of an engine. And then we have gas, oil, rubber —
I went on and on but I’m sure you get the idea. In a nutshell, I work the 11th step by thinking about my place in the universe and how wonderfully amazing everything is. Numinous awe strengthens my recovery.