It was not easy for me to totally accept spirituality or the concept of God. When I was young I stopped believing that God cared about me because he didn't seem to be answering my prayers. Then, when I was older, I became an agnostic. I didn't believe we could prove God existed, so I thought why bother with the whole issue at all. Of course, sometimes I would acknowledge God as the power behind creation, but I could not see God as a source of love and power, or a spiritual being with whom I could interact. Surely, I thought, if God had been around at some point he had abandoned us.
In recovery, I once again thought about God after I started going to 12-step meetings. The pain in me life had begun to subside and I felt as if I had been raised to a new level of consciousness. I didn't know why, or how it had happened, but I was suddenly filled with hope about the future, and for some reason I intuitively connected this with God. I somehow knew that God was a strong force behind me recovery.
I also felt a deep urgency to become a better person, to pull myself out of the pit I had fallen into because of my addiction to love. I no longer felt that I was fine and that the rest of the world needed improving. Now, somehow, I knew that I was the one who had to change. I decided that this newfound hope and willingness to change was a gift from a benevolent force in the universe.
My newly acquired spirituality seemed both strange and fascinating at the same time. However, more than that, it piqued my curiosity and prompted me to seek out the source of all this benevolence. I wanted to say "thank you," and I wanted more. To find God, and to enhance me spirituality, I went to the library to do some research. I didn't want to go to church because I wasn't interested in religion. I just wanted to know more about God.
Reading about spirituality was very enlightening, and it helped me understand that I was not the only person seeking answers to questions about God. It became apparent to me through me reading that many people have come to believe in God, including some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived.
Feeling that I was in good company with regard to my spiritual quest, I suddenly felt relieved of my hesitancy and embarrassment. This allowed my tender feelings for God to grow and bear fruit. Then, shortly thereafter, I had a wonderful experience. I was sitting in my kitchen. Everything was clean and bright. My curtains were drawn and the sunlight poured through the window. I was thinking about God and then suddenly a feeling of well-being took over my consciousness. I felt peaceful and content. All of my fears disappeared. I felt as if everything in the universe was in order. I just suddenly knew that even the chaos of this world was part of God's plan, and that everything was being taken care of. This serenity and trust was so exhilarating that I felt overwhelmed and grateful. I closed me eyes and basked in the warmth of the sun and the "peace of God which passes all understanding."
To me, this spiritual experience was further evidence that God was real and that he or she loved me. Yet, for awhile it still seemed a bit disconcerting for me to feel all of this growing tenderness for an invisible spirit. All of me life I had known what it felt like to fall in love with a person, but falling in love with God was something else. However, despite me trepidation, I knew what was happening to me was wonderful, and I knew it was an experience to be cherished, not ignored. Like C.S. Lewis, I had been "surprised by joy."
To hold onto this new conscious contact with God, I began to talk to him/her as one might talk to a close friend. I did not really believe in petitioning God through prayer, so I just chatted away with an image of God that I created in my mind. I talked about my fears and my dreams. I talked about every subject under the sun. I said "good morning" and I said "goodnight." I said "thank you" for my newfound serenity. I just talked and talked until I really felt close to this power greater than myself. I also imagined myself as a little child being held and comforted by God. Everywhere I went God went with me.
Of course, to me, this budding friendship with God was quite exciting. Since I was a compulsive talker, having a non-stop conversation with an invisible friend was really a lot of fun. Then, one day I had another spiritual experience. I was looking at myself in the mirror and feeling horrible about my body. I had never liked the way I looked. Then suddenly, I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of being loved and accepted. This feeling was so powerful that I started to cry. Then I found myself sobbing and saying to God out loud, "You really don't care what I look like, do you?" "You really do love me just the way I am." Then I sensed in a deep way God's unconditional love for me, and I was overwhelmed that God's love went beyond an appraisal of me physical appearance ─ that it was unconditional.
When I stepped away from the mirror, I was still crying. I thought about how long I had waited for this type of acceptance and unconditional love. I thought about how I had looked for it from everyone I had ever loved and never found it. Now, finally, it had come from an unexpected source ─ from God and from within.
God's unconditional love validated me. This validation made up for the experience of being rejected by me parents when I was a child.
After learning that I was lovable, I was able to learn how to love myself. As my self-esteem rose, I was able, for the first time in me life, to experience loving me family and community. Furthermore, I have come to realize that my spirituality is the energy that pulls me forward in recovery. It is the source of me willingness to change and grow; it is the strength that keeps me going; it is the gift of transformation from a power greater than myself.
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