Being an atheist in recovery

The Twilight Sad (album cover)

Click on the pic to follow the album cover to the twilight sad’s myspace page. It’ll open in a new window and the song that goes with this album cover, cold days from the birdhouse will start playing. An apropos image and song for this post.

Blue Rule

I am sick, sick, sick of all the god shit that I hear in recovery. It’s like being in an office where everyone is laughing at a dirty joke – a sharp reminder that you’re different.

Because I’m an atheist in recovery I feel a responsibility to bear witness to the fact that belief in God is not necessary and that despite all appearances to the contrary, atheists are welcome. I want them to know that recovery is freedom, not brainwashing and that you don’t have to self lobotomize to get better.

I spend a lot of time with this. I’ve written a booklet about atheists being welcome, I explain ad nauseam that it’s a spiritual program, that the steps are a way of changing. I’ve submitted articles for publication and offered my two cents to other atheists whenever the subject of addiction comes up. I even have a little form letter that explains how I work step 3, steps 5-7 and step 11 for the mildly curious. I write in much greater depth about how I reconcile the spirituality of recovery with the reality of my atheism for those addicts who are truly frightened that they’ll have to drink the kool-aide to recover. There is a group that keeps something I wrote on hand in case an atheist comes to them seeking recovery. How cool is that?

But as I type this, I think there’s a very real chance that I’m completely full of shit. I’m at the water cooler but instead of dirty jokes, it’s god talk. Maybe it’s time for me to stop pretending that I fit in. After all, as I just read in an article, the fellowship of recovery is not for everyone.

And about that, I feel very sad. And I hate crying over something so incredibly stupid. I know that crying is a necessary part of life and that it’s important to acknowledge feelings, but . . . but it feels weak to cry and pathetic to want to be in a club that doesn’t really want me.

Now if things follow true to form, I’ll feel sad for awhile. By the time I upload the illustration for this post, I’ll feel better. I’ll log off, go wash my face, and things will be fine. Later, I’ll be cranky. I’ll notice that someone left a half empty can of soda on the floor by the couch. Maybe the dog will bark. My husband will definitely do something to pluck my nerves. But eventually I’ll remember that I’d rather feel strong and angry rather than weak and sad.

I want to really belong and not wince every time somebody goes on a tirade about how the original edition of the Big Book didn’t shy away from using the word God or whatever anti-atheist shit they’re spouting at the moment. I won’t act out. And I don’t need to figure this out today; after all, it’s been an ongoing theme for me.

Time to upload the pic and wash my face. That’s the next right thing: putting one foot in front of the other on the path of Happy Destiny.

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About

Wife. Mother. Atheist. Aspergers. Sex Addict in Recovery.

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Posted in atheism, rants, sex addiction
33 comments on “Being an atheist in recovery
  1. Hi Gentle Path, I would love to have a copy of your steps 3, 5-7, and 11 for any that are atheists. I’m religious so I use the word God, but I try to also recognize that there are plenty of people who are not religious but still believe in a higher power (whether that’s the group consciousness, the universe, etc, it doesn’t matter to me — if it helps, it works!). I’m trying to share my experiences and learnings in a way that will help as many people as possible.

    Thank you for your honesty and what you share. I hope you help lots of people. I hope you receive the strength you need. And I hope that you feel comfortable in your group to be you. I know that in our group we’re very specific about saying higher power (and sometimes God, but I’d like to think without prejudice to how others believe).

    Thanks!
    Mike

  2. Ted says:

    I am an aetheist and I have tried various SA groups, some very religious in their format and membership where it feels like an evangelical tent show, others have tolerent belivers who let you define your higher power as you wish. The second step is seen as being open to a higher power, to me this is something bigger than me. The resources of long term sober members willing to share their experiences, strength & hope, without coercing you to “praise God” to stay sober. It is reaching for that inner strength for doing what is right and not living in delusion when behavior is harmful to ourselves and at the expense of others is how I see living within the guidance of a higher power. Take what helps and leave the rest. Someone wants to spout off about needing the grey bearded old man God, well if that is the image that person needs, who has the right to discredit their tool that works for them. Imposing it on you is no different than imposing being an atheist on someone who is a believer. Let it go, you can only control your decisions as best you can and even when we slip, we decide to keep trying. Maybe religions wouldn’t be so bad if there were not people and their egos to screw it up. I have lived a life of delusion and if I see another living in delusion, who am I to judge. You can let it go and it does not have to be given to an other worldly being. Good luck, as Ken Kesey once said, The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. So keep seeking your sobriety and know as difficult as it may be, you are not alone and there are others who accept you and understand the power addiction has.

  3. Tom says:

    I am a recovering addict and have been clean and “actively” involved in the Na fellowship for over 2yrs now. I however do not believe in a God or Deity. I have found absolutely no resistance within the fellowship in my area, which is Ann Arbor MI by the way, whatsoever. I do know that there are individuals in recovery whose experience has been quite the opposite in both AA and NA. Even though this has not been my experience I have recently felt the need to reach out to others who share my beliefs and have been doing so this past week online. Even though the literature (NA) heavily references God it also states that we need only find a power that is greater than ourselves that is loving, caring, etc. In no way do I feel like I am not a part of but I do feel the need to find others who are like me. I wish I could sum my HP up in a sentence the way “Believers” do but find myself feeling as though I have to adequately explain my HP in when I bring it up in order to not sound like I don’t work the same exact program. The only thing that I do not do is pray. My spiritual beliefs, character defects, and disease are exactly the same as the other members.

    If anyone reads this and could offer some support as far as being able to relate it would be greatly appreciated as I have done some searching and most discussions I have found on other sites most recent comments are generally a year or more ago. Either way I appreciate everything that I have read in this discussion and am truly grateful.

    • AnneOnymous says:

      I have 19 years clean in NA and have only for the last few years openly spoken about “or lack of religion”. While the Basic Text has a story and a short note by atheists it is amazing how the religious are always spouting their beliefs and those of us atheists are not given a chance at convention level speaking. The meditation book Just for Today, July 8, says god is used because most understand that concept of a higher power. It is time for those of us who NEED the fellowship of other addicts to stand up and be heard that god just doesn’t have any logical meaning for people like us, those that bother to use our brains to question everything!

  4. Tran says:

    Thank you, I am tired of the whole attempt to convert in recovery meetings. The doorknob example is good. I am tired of being told that it doesn’t have to be the God for the person to your left or right, but you are expected to believe in an outside of you Higher Power. Best I can muster is I am not God or a Higher Power and I don’t control everything like my delusionary thinking had been. But believing in a Power greater than me does imply faith in a deity, no matter what shape you imagine it to believe. That does not work, I am an aetheist in recovery and according to the 12 Steps, I can not get past Step 1. Well that is crap in my opinion. God is not Great, the Crusades and the jihad is not holy and righteous. But being human and humane is something any one has the capibility of doing, regardless of being a “True Beliver” or not. I will let go of my delusions, take my moral inventory and make amends and reach out for fellowship of fellow human beings for strength and hope from the delusions of bad choices for an adrenaline rush or a defective nuero pathway.

  5. Patrick H says:

    Thank you for your blog.
    I have been sober and in recovery for nearly four years. Now I’m presented with a father who wants to dry up and stay sober — really he has to as his health is failing. He’s tried the fellowships before but couldn’t get around the “religious elements.”
    I am researching how other atheists get with the steps and recovery and came across your blog.
    Will you please forward the letter you mentioned above about steps 3, 5-7, and 11? My email address is <edited>.

    Again: thank you, so much, for your blog.

  6. Kenny B says:

    When I first came to Narcotics Anonymous I thought the “god thing” was going to be a problem for me. I was right, for a while anyhow.
    After doing some “step work” I was encouraged by a sponsor to look at the third step in the framework of “guidelines to live by” as opposed to any religious doctrine.
    By doing so I remove any supernatural superstitions and mythology from what I surrender to live my life by.
    Simply, ethics (or “spiritual principles if you must), are my guide.
    I have found that the way I am living speaks for itself. I don’t have to defend or explain myself.
    As a matter of fact, now a days, I often find that members who know newcomers who don’t believe in god, are referring them to me.
    Different beliefs are becoming more and more commonplace today. The only reason to feel different about this is if I choose to.

    • Tom says:

      Thank you. I am grateful for your post here and you hit the nail on the head for how I feel about my recovery program. I see that you posted this almost a year ago but I hope that you checked the box that will notify you via email so that you see my response. I myself have been clean for over 2yrs now and have received absolutely no amount of condescension or anything that suggested I could not stay clean without God from the fellowship of NA either. I have however been seeking others who believe as I do and just wanted to reach out. A lot of the people who post things online about being clean and a non believer are really critical and/or combative toward AA/NA and that’s not me. Any way I won’t keep rambling I hope that you see this and have a chance to reply but either way I am grateful for what you have shared and thanks for helping me stay clean another day.

  7. anon says:

    Yes! I concur.
    Many come to the rooms (or refuse to come due to the religious overtones) suffering, but feeling ostracized for their unwillingness or, even, in many cases (such as mine) inability to believe in ancient superstitions.
    But, yes, we, too, can recover, and I feel it IS important to let others know, to carry the message that the fellowship and steps can work for anyone willing to work them, even without such beliefs.

  8. thalio says:

    Greetings,

    Relevant to the discussion, I’d like to share an essay on atheism and the 12-steps here–

    http://everything2.com/user/thalio/writeups/12-step+program

    To get the most of this writing form (noding, they call it) check out some of the links.

    Hope this is useful, and best to all.

  9. Robin says:

    Hello. I am an atheist and an addict in recovery. I too struggle with the constant rift of religious vocabulary weaved into the justification of spiritual-not-religious-program. I have trouble with my sponsor, mostly in explaining to him that I do not believe in deities, and therefore find prayer to be a completely meaningless ritual.

    I came across this blog from a google search. I’m trying to find resources and support from other recovering atheists and to hopefully learn some tools and survival tips while working the 12 Steps. I would love to hear from you about how you’ve worked steps 3, 5, 7 and 11. Also, if there is anyone willing to point me in the direction of informational resources, blogs or anything that could help me, I would very much appreciate anything.

    My email is newbroughr@gmail.com

    • GentlePath says:

      Hi Robin,

      For what it’s worth, I haven’t found it useful to get in to the whole prayer argument. People who believe in God seem to think that it’s necessary to believe to pray. It’s not. I just leave off the “Dear God” part of prayers and call it thinking. Talking out loud in my head is probably a better way to describe it. But arguing about praying leaves me feeling like the lone thinking person in a room full of kool-aid drinkers. And that’s a sure recipe for feeling isolated, which leads eventually right back to acting out.

      Step three — there are lots of powers greater than me. Just because I can’t name the ones that are keeping me sober in recovery doesn’t mean I have to name them God.

      Step five — is done just the same way I “pray.” Lucky me, I was still very religious when I did step 5. But now, I’d just go some place alone and private and admit my shortcomings to the universe. I think actually speaking out loud is helpful. Not magic, just helpful.

      Step seven — I ask the universe (out loud) to remove my shortcomings.

      Step eleven — I just substitute think for prayer and universe for God.

      ** The book that helped me get over the whole “I can’t pray because I don’t believe in God” idea is by Gomez, and the title is Survival. The story in the book is the one about the woman who finds herself in a boat with a bunch of morons and throws her pearl earring into the sea.

      Best of luck in your recovery!

      GP

  10. thomas clark says:

    gentle path is there any way you can post that step guide and also what you wrote which you mentioned you gave to a group for a newcomer? or email it to me clarkthomas1024@aol.com thanx so much

  11. Alice says:

    Thank you for your entry. I just started a 12 Step program last summer and have been struggling with Step 2. 10 minutes ago I found this little gem online that I predict will help me immensely: “Every one of the steps can be reduced to a non-theistic action. Steps 2-5 come down to this: ‘In step one I realized that I’m a drunk/codependent. I believe that there’s a solution because I met these people who claim to have been like me and now they seem like they’ve got their shit together. I’m gonna direct my will and life in search of the that solution since anything is better than the idiocy I was living with before. This search will involve some self reflection (and maybe some therapy,) and the willingness to change some seemingly extraneous habits.’ That’s it: no God necessary. It’s a program of action, not theological debate.” The guy goes on to talk about the 4th step resentments and says, “… resentments weaken you. They distract you and make you feel entitled to a drink/codependent behavior. Enough resentments, and you might actually drink/drug/act codependently.” I think this about does it for me. I wish I could give credit to the guy who wrote it all, but I didn’t catch the name, just wrote it down in my journal for reflection. He’s inspired me to translate the steps for myself so they have meaning for me without theistic bend. Keep up the good work everyone.

  12. Mikki says:

    Thank you for this blog entry..I was searching on-line for articles or discussion about reconciling working the steps with being an atheist. It amazes me how threatened so many people find that word ‘atheist’ as though I’m somehow dangerous. I just don’t find the existence of the god we hear about, christian, muslim or any other religious description of a higher power to be plausible.

    It doesn’t mean I don’t care, love or have decent values…I have been struggling in the program for many years (almost a decade now) frequentlyt relapsing. This morning I went to a meeting and when I hear people talk about how their higher power or god was ‘looking after them’ I get so angry…they got home safely when they were driving drunk and that was their higher power looking after them. Well what about the people who didn’t make it home safe? What about the people who are living in refugee camps all over the world starving to death? Where is their higher power? No thank you I can’t swallow that, I’m damn lucky I haven’t killed someone while driving drunk, and I’m damn grateful for it…

    so now the question that I wrestle with is can I let go of the ‘god’ part of the program enough to see the value in essentially taking responsibility for my mistakes in the past, allowing myself to live in the now and make sure I don’t create a whole bunch of new baggage to haul around with me? I can be an atheist and still strive to be a loving, caring and responsible human being…and I do try, what I find though when I go to meetings is that I’m just frustrated because it seems so fake sometimes…who am I to judge, maybe people are really as happy as they say they are, but I haven’t felt it by going to the rooms. It’s a bit like before I came out as being gay…I feel like a fraud, like I’m faking and I don’t belong, not because I’m better, I just don’t fit in…but that feeling has deadly consequences in the case of my addiction.

    it helps so much to know that I am not alone in this struggle regarding god and spirituality in the program. It’s not something that I hear actually in the rooms very often. thank you for sharing and for allowing me to share.

  13. DrPsych says:

    Hey Gentle,

    I hope you’re not too sad that 12-step recovery is not for everyone. People find different paths, but I think you’ll agree that as long as they find the way, everything is fine.

    I’m one of the people that left the rooms because of god, but I’m fine, and haven’t touched meth since I quit in the rooms in 2002.

    I love your posts and their honesty.

    Keep on.

  14. buckabuddha says:

    Wow. I am so grateful that I found this blog this morning! I have been involved in 12 step recovery groups starting with “The Mothership”, ( otherwise known as A.A), since I was 20 years old. I am now nearly 50. I have been through treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction 3 times, sex addiction treatment and treatment for my codependency. In the past 30 years I have experienced many many short periods of sobriety, clean-time and abstinence. Also some longer periods of years, (1987-1997, 2005-2007-[2 day relapse]-2007-present). My shorter periods of “recovery” have been 30 days, 60 days, 90 days 6 months, 9 months, 7 months, 11.5 months, etc… During these years I have been a member of many different recovery 12 step groups. I struggle with substance abuse, eating disorder, sexual addiction, spending addiction, nicotine addiction and childhood issues from having grown up in an abusive and very dysfunctional family system where I was physically abused, molested, and treated like I was a person of little to no value by a raging drunk father and a mother who loved me dearly but was drunk, on many prescription drugs and who molested me many times under the pretext of either health concerns of punishment for bad behavior. Whew! This is a brief description of “How it was”.

    “What happened?” I was forced into treatment at the tender age of 20 and taught that in order to recovery from my “disease” I had to “come to believe” in a power greater than myself. Anyone who has ever been to ANY 12 step group is immediately confronted with the word “God” in the steps. People SAY you can believe in whatever higher power you choose. “Why hell, you can even have a doorknob as your higher power if that works for you!” (A phrase I have heard hundreds of times and have even used myself).

    BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t get much support in any of the 12 step groups I’ve been associated with for having a higher power that I did not “choose to call God”! Think about this. How demeaning is that phrase about choosing a doorknob as your higher power? I mean really! And it is always said in such a snide and dismissive way. This has been my experience at least.

    Yes, attending 12 step groups had helped me to stay alive and even experience a modicum of success. Aside from some lengthy periods of being clean and sober I worked for about 4 years in a “world class” treatment facility here in Tucson with many celebrities and rich important people as patients. (Pay-tients may be a more accurate and descriptive term here!) I have a degree in chemical dependency counseling and I believe I have helped many many people find their path to recovery and connection to their higher power. Albeit my third marriage, I am very happy in my relationship with my wife whom by the the way does believe in God but sincerely respects my right not to believe.

    What I have observed is that the people who do really well in 12 step recovery are people who have a devout belief in “God”. I however believe that god is an imaginary construct and I further do not believe in the supernatural at all. Oh I want to desperately at times so that I do not have to feel so alone. Over the years I have tried to believe is such things many many times. Until recently I would say that I did and talk about how grateful I was for “God’s Grace”. Within the last 6 months I have been saying that I do not believe in god or any other supernatural concepts openly in the 12 step meetings I attend. I get all kinds of weird responses to this declaration. People have actually cross-talked directly to me by name in meetings. I get all kinds of “sideways slams” in the shares of people in the meetings. Lost and lots of, “my higher power whom I choose to call God or Jesus or Lord!”, always with much angry energy behind it. People come to me after the meetings inquiring “if” I have a sponsor, (I wonder sometimes if their plan is to tell on me to my sponsor for not believing in god). Several have suggested that they become my sponsor. I often wonder if their plan is to engage some of the Spanish Inquisition’s techniques to create a conversion in me!

    For the love of FRICK! (not the word I actually used but close enough to allow me to express without being offensive)

    I just want to be clean and sober and not engaging in addictive behaviors. I believe that I need a group of other like minded people to accomplish this daily goal. Hence, my problem. Must I deny my true beliefs and rational reality to have a support group!?! I am hoping that this post will bring me some much needed support and love from people who are simply trying to live free like I am.

    “How it is today.” Or what i term…

    Todays Score: I am not in some park bathroom today using toilet water in my needle to shoot dope. I am not drunk or drinking. I have not had a cigarette today, (interesting to me how many people claim to be totally clean while still sucking 30 to 40 cigs a day). Not acting out sexually today. Not engaging in eating disorder behaviors today. Managing my life long depression without the use of pharmaceuticals today, (perhaps having a support group where I was not punished for my beliefs would help… Hmmmm.)

    I hope that I have shared some thoughts that others might identify with and that perhaps we can engage in a respectful and loving dialog about these ideas. Looking forward to the thoughts of others.

    Thanks for letting me rant a bit.

    Much love and respect to all. Buck

    • Anna says:

      Dear Buck,

      Thank you for the great post! I am in the process of looking for more people that would be interested in a recovery group that does not involve the “Higher Power” concept. I am convinced that for many it is detrimental to attribute their success at recovery to a supernatural cause, while their failures tend to be put down to “self will run riot.” In both cases, my belief is that the actions resulted from the decisions of the individual, not an outside force. I am tired of attempting to make my beliefs about the way the world and myself work mesh with the AA format. It just isn’t going to happen without a loss of personal integrity. And, no matter what anyone says, people CAN and DO stay sober outside of AA… and without the nasty “dry drunk” tag. Let me know your thoughts — perhaps there are already online groups like this. An excellent book with much to recommend it for use to athiests in recovery is “The Atheist’s Way; Living Well Without Gods,” by Eric Maisel, although it is not specifically about recovery.

      Best,
      Anna

    • An exhaustive 7 year search for my Higher Power in AA revealed two things to me. G.reat O.btainable D.ream and the fact that it is so hard for me to grasp any kind of religion or dogma because I don’t believe in God!
      There I said it.
      Sobriety is beautiful and being an Atheist is truly freeing!!!

    • mario says:

      woah. this was great. thank you so much for the post. i identify completely and enlightened as well. thanks again.

  15. Kevin Dixon says:

    One doesn’t need God to recover but it helps to have something to lean on.

    Best of luck,
    Kevin

  16. Angela says:

    What a great blog. Here’s what I don’t understand about those of us who for whatever reason feel uncomfortable in the existing recovery paradigm: why do we try and try to fit in instead of going out and creating what it is we think we need? It’s not conducive to mental health to spend time constantly hashing over things that you simply don’t believe in. The 12 steps are religious and patriarchial in nature – some of us aren’t looking for god or daddy – we just want to be sober.

    Keep writing honestly. It is much appreciated.

    • michael apostasso says:

      Hi Angela

      So far yours is the only blog that wasn’t full of b.s. — I think it’s great that there are atheist husbands working the 12 steps — but nobody EVER says how they do it — yeah, yeah, it’s God as you understand him/it and higher power this and higher power that — but everytime I’ve sat down to talk with a prospective sponsor, or someone in fellowship after a meeting IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO SOME GREYHAIRED GOOFBALL UP IN THE SKY…I’ve ask, even begged any closeted atheists at various meetings over the years to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE — if you’re a stone cold atheist who truly believes that the only thing humans will ever do once they die is sprout worms from their eyeballs — then please come up to me after the meeting or give me a call and TELL ME HOW IT IS THAT YOU WORK THE 12 STEPS……

  17. willow says:

    i’ve been spiritual since I was a small child but my sense of “God” is not at all the conventional view. when i say “God”, i mean my experience of that. funny thing is that i have trouble using HP because it is a 12 step thing. i don’t want to use it because i’m supposed to. i think God is the deep inner knowing within us all. i don’t believe there is any Big God floating out there in the heavens looking down on us. i sense it as an energy – spirit from within that separates us from our ego and connects us directly to our core that gives us all our answers. for the most part i think humans tend to create God in the likeness of ourselves. if we are judgmental we see a God that is judgmental. If we are accepting, we see a God that is accepting. i agree with everyone else here – most of us do not care if someone is an agnostic or atheist and most of us have many of the same challenges about God being defined for us. i even refused to do the serenity prayer when i first started going to meetings.

    at the base of the steps for me it is about raising us up to our highest thinking and feeling about ourselves, reaching for that greatness that we all hold. most people just don’t know how to access that w/out feeling something greater than themselves first.

    i love the honesty and courage you display through your blog.

    thank you.

    • mario says:

      thank you very much for these thoughts/ideas/words. i don’t know what label fits me, but i know for sure that i do not believe in the god that i was indoctrinated into believing. however, i am in recovery and i attend aa. i’ve looking to see what SMART recovery is about and just found out that there are agnostice aa meetings, which i plan to attend. anyhow, what you expressed above is what i identify with. so thank you for laying it out clearly in a way that communicates how i’ve been feeling…

  18. Enigma says:

    Hello GP, I hope you don’t mind my commenting on this topic. I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now, but have yet to comment on the prior posts. I felt it necessary to say that your point-of-view in recovery is greatly appreciated, but most importantly – very necessary! My husband is working the 12 steps and is also an atheist. If recovery were only possible in a religious framework, then my husband (along with hundreds of others) would be denied the wonderful gifts of sobriety. Please don’t ever feel that your experience, beliefs, pov is not welcomed. It is exactly what we need! Thank you for sharing YOUR story with us.

  19. norma says:

    Not only the Big Book doesn’t shy away from the word God. From what i read – believing in higher power was central to the recovery of all these people. Its the only thing they say that prevents them from drinking.

    I like your blog very much. I dont want to come here and parade my belief or offend you in any way. I just dont believe that you are really an atheist. Maybe you want to be one, but then why the struggle? You still cling to this program and say the support you get from the people there is what keeps you sober. But the people there are loving helping and supporting because this goes together with their belief in higher power. Its interesting how one can walk in water and insist to stay thirsty.

  20. theotherbed says:

    Okay, this prompted a rant.

    You always make me think. Thanks.

  21. Rae says:

    GentlePath … Forgive me for making a judgment, but I fear the only person who is not at peace with you is you. In this post I see you giving away your power and maybe even your recovery program because of words that other people use. I definitely hear your frustration, and I know all too well what it is like to feel like I don’t fit in. But I hope these feelings pass and you find the peace and acceptance you are looking for.

    Like Mary, I use the word “God” because it’s easier than typing out or saying Higher Power. But that doesn’t mean that I believe in the God of everyone else. I have a Higher Power of my own understanding, and I’m grateful for it.

    I believe strongly in the literature of AA, and it’s true that the Big Book in some instances refers directly to the evangelical Christain God. But it also contains passages like the essay on acceptance that speak directly to my heart.

    I quit going to church — any kind of church — because I would get mad that people were trying to tell me what to believe. I finally recognized that they only got to bother me if I let them. So now, whenever I feel like it — usually two or three times a year — I’ll pick a church and go and sit in it on a Sunday morning, because it does my heart good. I take what I want and I leave the rest as I walk out filled with a spirit of renewal.

  22. Mary (MPJ) says:

    You know, I have to admit that I feel uncomfortable and guilty using the word God, because I used to identify as an atheist or agnostic, depending. And I don’t feel my beliefs have changed. I still don’t believe in the kind of God that I think people mean when they say God. I feel like I’ve let down atheists by jumping on the God wagon and appropriating the word for my spirituality. And I think I’d make the old me distinctly uncomfortable in meetings. But at the same time, it’s working for me right now, and I have to remember that that’s my focus. Bleh.

  23. theotherbed says:

    Gentle Path, (I spelled it out because we don’t need no shorthand when we’re feeling invisible!)

    There’s a problem with the song, but I was able to hear some of it. Please know that whatever your beliefs, I, for one, would be losing out, and soasking you to stay, if you were no longer part of my metaphorical meeting. You have made it your own, you’ve made it our (as in group of followers) own. You are one of the most sober voices I’ve ever encountered, and you’ve done it without God. You are a testament to that possibility, for those who are afraid.

    My beliefs and confusions surrounding God are such that the word itself is shorthand because who’s got the time to listen or cares, so it’s like the term “that guy”, the inference being–so you know what I mean. When I write privately I use the term HPs, plural, because I sense, but I’m not sure about, a multiplicity of sources of strength. You, at least, know where you stand when it comes to God.

    I still pray, still experience moments of “grace”, but a lot of it is simply “acting as if”, because with addiction and coaddiction, we are definitely in a foxhole! You disprove the aphorism.

    I see you. I hear you. And I’m listening.

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