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Random Thoughts on Being Religious in Secular Recovery

Old 07-11-2008, 12:25 PM
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Random Thoughts on Being Religious in Secular Recovery

As some of you know, I am quite religious (traditional religious actually) yet I feel my sobriety has very little to do with a higher power taking care of these problems. I feel steps 5-7 ask just that.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
I feel God gave me the tools to fix my life. Just like S/He gave us doctors to fix us up when we get sick, I don't rely on Him/Her to fix my addiction and defects of character. Its up to me. Would I blame God if I relapsed? No. Then why would I assume God is responsible when I stay clean? I don't think its right to only find God responsible for half of the equation, especially when I am the one who would be picking up the pill bottle.

That doesn't mean I don't pray about my recovery. Quite the opposite. Just as I pray for guidance and help healing when I take ill, I also pray that I will find the strength in myself to stay clean. However, I don't hold God responsible if I don't get well right away, or if I were to relapse.

If I were to relapse, it would be due to MY errors in my program. I'm a big girl and I know better then to use.

I would like to hear from other religious folks who also work a secular recovery and their feelings on it.
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:39 PM
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Hey Alera...I feel exactly like you and for those reasons I can not work the program of aa. The God of my understand just does not operate the way the steps assumes he will.

I am of the belief that all our power lies within, gifts given to us by God to be used or not used as we see fit. For many years I didn't bother to dig deep enough, I didn't know how powerful I really was.

I too agree if I don't blame God if I pick up, why would I assume he keeps me sober.

I pray daily, for guidance and strength. I always pray with a grateful heart...one which acknowledges the gifts given to me as a birthright.

Wonderful post!
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Old 07-11-2008, 10:07 PM
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I feel the same way too.

I came back to God as a result of my recovery, not the other way around.
I believe God gave me two arms, two legs and a brain for a reason.

I also believe God didn't put me in the mess I was in, I did.

Like the others here, I pray for guidance, I pray I can find the things I need in myself...I've never asked for a guardian angel or for a miracle.

Not only has God way more important stuff to deal with but I actually learn stuff by fixing my own mess.

To me, that's God at work

D
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:32 AM
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not sure i should respond...but i thought i would share....I have a religion and AA and need both...but...I don't believe in "god". I believe in the law of cause and effect. To me it is a very different way of working the steps than what some people are talking about. but i works for me.

Hope it's ok ... don't usually post here since i definately do have a religion that i use to help me stay sober.
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:46 AM
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ananda...of course it is ok, post away!!!

I am a big believer in do what works for you, there are many paths to sobriety as is evident right here at SR.

I agree with what Dee said in regards to God having better things to deal with. In my line of work I see families being torn apart by sickness and death...the pain is palpable. I prefer to think that God will tend to the most immediate or dire situation before he helps me do something that he gave me the capability to do by myself.

Free will is an amazing gift especially when used. I give thanks for it everyday!
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Old 07-12-2008, 01:26 PM
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:18 AM
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Good to see you back Windy. Hope you had a good vacation.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:55 AM
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Thanky. I don't like work.
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:50 PM
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I respect your beliefs for what they have meant to you. I am not familiar with AA's big book as AA did not sync with my beliefs and what I sought in support. Part of that reason is shown in steps 5 to 7. Just like a great deal of organized religion, these steps on a "face" level imply that something is wrong with you. I am not saying that addiction is not a problem but caution must be used with this type of language. This sounds like the traditional religious tone of "You're a naughty, horrible person and you better do exactly what we say or everything will turn out awful for you."

I did not wake up one day and say, "I really want to develop a drinking problem." Therefore I do not believe I committed a wrong (which is relative to perception.) I have a difficulty that I work with and seek resolution to through acts directed by myself but to say I committed a wrong is self defeating.

Again, I'm not looking to disregard anyone's belief in a god but I often see a fine line between constructive spirituality and destructive blind faith. I have a friend who is a bankruptcy trustee and tells me about people who were given options to help them find a resolution. Instead of acting on their own, they write letters back that say things like, "God will make the choice for me" and "the lord will take care of this." No god actually takes care of anything and their situations become worse than ever when all they needed to do was to believe in themselves first and work on the problem at hand. I would not want to see someone handling addiction in the same way. Even if it does work, an individual would believe something or somebody other than themselves was responsible for the success. There is no gain of confidence and the only thing built is a reliance on something/someone else (like addiction.)
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:47 AM
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Warning, although discussing my secular recovery, my reply is filled with "God talk".

Originally Posted by Stamps43 View Post

Again, I'm not looking to disregard anyone's belief in a god but I often see a fine line between constructive spirituality and destructive blind faith. I have a friend who is a bankruptcy trustee and tells me about people who were given options to help them find a resolution. Instead of acting on their own, they write letters back that say things like, "God will make the choice for me" and "the lord will take care of this." No god actually takes care of anything and their situations become worse than ever when all they needed to do was to believe in themselves first and work on the problem at hand. I would not want to see someone handling addiction in the same way. Even if it does work, an individual would believe something or somebody other than themselves was responsible for the success. There is no gain of confidence and the only thing built is a reliance on something/someone else (like addiction.)
I agree with you. I just do not understand people with this blind faith in God. I cannot imagine going to Mass and hearing a priest say "Don't listen to the doctor, just pray and you will get well" or "Don't refinance your home, take the risk you may get an inheritance". We would run him out of town! Sick, see a doctor. Can't afford your bank payments, work with the bank! God gave me professionals for a reason.

Now why would I accept that type of advice about something life threatening as addiction when I wouldn't over any other part of my health. I wouldn't.

It is almost a sort of gamble and we are asking God to roll the dice for us. I deserve better, and so does God.
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:08 PM
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I follow you completely. Methodology and belief is a powerful thing that can be very useful. I think it's great when I hear someone say that their relationship with God or what not helped and my thoughts are not meant to be an attack on beliefs like this. I just want people who are trying, are successful or even believe they aren't making it to understand that they either have been responsible for their success or that they are capable to create success no matter what. I should note that it's not just proselytizing god-talk that can do this. Sometimes we prey on ourselves unintentionally.
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:39 AM
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In his work on the paradoxical approach of the Steps, Gregory Bateson looks at the dynamics of surrender and control which many alcoholics struggle with. It might help to look at the Higher Power in terms of paradox and 'power' rather than just traditional understandings of God. Many agnostics and atheists have benefited from this approach.

Love

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Old 07-19-2008, 12:58 PM
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Mala:

Bateson sounds really interesting...I just did a quick "google" but didn't see anything that looked specific to the 12 Steps and recovery -- can you provide some titles????

Thanks,
freya
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:00 PM
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Not sure but is he the one who wrote about alchoholic epistimology? I remember the line

There is something so wrong with the alchoholics veiw of the world that drinking makes it more right...

something like that...If I'm right and it's him, the whole article I read by him was awsome and was a huge impact on my first sobriety.
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Old 07-19-2008, 06:45 PM
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I'm confused again.
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Old 07-20-2008, 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by freya View Post
Mala:

Bateson sounds really interesting...I just did a quick "google" but didn't see anything that looked specific to the 12 Steps and recovery -- can you provide some titles????

Thanks,
freya
I googled around (there should be a song about that...) and found an article from bateson from 1971, "The Cybernetics of "Self": A Theory of Alcoholism". Didnt have time to read it properly: looks pretty interesting. Online as a word doc:
jpmgoncalves.home.sapo.pt/textos/the_cybernetics_of_self.doc
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Old 07-20-2008, 03:59 AM
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Good thread Alera and some good replies.
I left religion years ago and only came back to it with compromises. I tend to ignore the politics of it all as just too many man made laws and not Gods laws.
I believe in the power of prayer and have seen many times the comfort religion can bring to some people and that is what probably keeps me involved, but as for God taking control of my problems- no way.
I believe we were created into a blissful, loving, innocent state and given life( which we wanted). We are here to deal with it all, love, hate , joy , sorrow etc. God is always there but will not get involved because that is not part of the plan. It is down to ourselves to deal with our own problems, and even better if we have loved ones or friends to help. God will not criticize and will love us whatever we do. I have responsibilities to myself and my family and am trying to do the best I can (albeit belatedly). But whatever I do, God will still be there with me.
All I can think with regard to the hardships some endure and of the horrors and disasters, is that all those concerned and their loved ones will know, understand and accept why when it is time for them to do so.
This time last year I was an overweight drunk, now I run and cycle regularly and am much fitter mentally and physically. Others have helped including SR but having attended AA for a while at the start of the year I knew it wasn't for me. When I started going there, even though I had misgivings I thought that being part of the group would be a good thing to keep me sober. Apart from not accepting much of it, being a few months sober already my brain was clear. The suggestion of being a drydrunk I found quite offensive and I realised that I could work on me and that is what I am doing.
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:04 AM
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Hi all -- the article by Bateson was reprinted in a Family Networker of 1988 but I can't get any more details. Very interesting piece though, and when I visit South Africa again I'll pull it out and get a better reference.

Dave -- I couldn't agree more that the term 'dry drunk' is offensive. It is most often used to insinuate that somebody else has less quality of sobriety than the speaker and is patronising and usually a personal insult disguised as concern. Often it is used about people who are secular or whose spiritual path is not the same as the person calling them a 'dry drunk'. We should just drop that term from popular usage.

I find AA very helpful but I don't believe in an uncritical approach to any methodology or community. And human nature is just human. I try not to sweat the petty stuff.

Anyone who has 24 hours sober is a brilliant recovering hero as far as I am concerned.

Love

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Old 07-20-2008, 09:09 AM
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nolonger:

Thanks for taking time to look more thoroughly....I'll definitely check it out.

******************************************

Also, I have to say something about "dry-drunk," which BTW is a fairly common term in this area and seems to be used more as short-hand for a certain type of behavior than as any kind of attempt to run anyone down. And, in this area, I've actually never seen it used to bash anyone because his/her program was spiritual in an alternative way or even secular -- but then, as I've posted elsewhere, I really have seen hardly any of the "holier-than-thou-because-I-call-my-HP-God" behavior around here.

I am not an alcoholic (Al Anon) but I ended up "finding" the 12 Step programs because my partner was a supposedly recovering alcoholic who had been without a drink for almost 15 years when she descended into a severe dry-drunk relapse. Although she would have copped a major resentment against anyone who she heard using that term to describe her at the time (of course!), she now always uses it to describe herself in that period (and, let me tell you, it is MUCH nicer and far more gentle than listing in detail all of the behaviors that made her a dry-drunk!)....and, as far as I can tell, it is 100% accurate -- "an alcoholic who is not drinking but seriously working any kind of recovery and is actively engaged in many -- or all -- of the other negative behaviors associated with the disease of alcoholism and also, often, strongly involved in other addictive behaviors."

Also, there is a difference between taking other people's inventories and speaking the truth about their behavior. If I am talking about someone's behavior -- as above -- to make a necessary point or to convey information that it is important someone else has, or in working toward understanding a particular behavior and how and why it affects me as it does in order to come to acceptance of it and make an informed decision as to what I need to to to protect myself from it, that is not taking anyone's inventory.

Taking other people's inventory is when I am talking about the behavior of others for its drama, entertainment and/or gossip potential (otherwise known as "focusing on the problems instead of the solutions) and/or I am doing so to run other people down, puff myself up, and distract my attention from the things on which I really ought to be focusing.

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Old 07-20-2008, 09:33 AM
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Freya...thanks...I think I get it, but .... (sorry)...I find it much more helpful to me when I am trying to deal with what is wrong with me to hear about specific behavior than just the term "dry drunk". It doesn't really offend me to hear it, but just isn't very helpful to me. Hope you see what I'm saying...Just thought I'de share that

I've been to meetings that are accepting of alternative higher powers and to meetings that aren't....so I know both exist and I just hope people and myself included, can always find a group that is accepting of these different ways of describing their expereinces.

Good thread! (not that any are really bad)
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