Monday, March 23, 2009

Belief in God, part 2.

The first daily reading book I encountered in Al-Anon, was the ODAT - One Day At A Time. I still find this book a wonderful resource. It's a bit more direct than some of the later daily readers, so I've heard it described as "harsh," but I am very fond of it, both for that directness, and for the many hours of solace it has given to me. I was looking for a specific quote about faith, and found it in this book:

"Short arm needs man to reach to Heaven, so ready is Heaven to stoop to him."
Francis Thompson

What a comforting thought. I don't need a ladder truck, arm extensions, special handles, all I need is my own (admittedly) short arms. Each one of us has arms long enough to reach to our Higher Power, because God is so willing to reach any distance to meet us.

I started out in life, being frightened of a God who was punitive, unforgiving, and would roast me in the fires of damnation forever, for my sins. I can recall even as a child, wondering what on earth kinds of sins I could have committed that were anything like the ones being committed against me on a daily basis. Because of that, I rejected God utterly - slammed the door to my heart firmly closed, and then plastered it over - you couldn't even tell there used to be a door there. I was an atheist from quite a young age.

When I came to 12-step, the spiritual aspect of it was the most difficult for me to accept, as it meant opening my mind and heart to a God I didn't believe in. My sponsor suggested I try to pray anyway, to "act as if," and see what happened. For a long time - nothing. And then one day, I was granted serenity when I prayed for it, and nothing has ever been the same since.

When I am about to undertake something - large or small, part of daily life, or life-changing event - I don't fear the way I once did. I have that base serenity and belief to build upon, and nothing in life is ever quite so terrifying, when I know that all I have to do is reach out, and God will be there to comfort, and console, and encourage, and sustain me.

My first sponsor once said to me, in exasperation, "Do you think God has brought you all this way safely, just to open the window and hurl you out now?" I burst out laughing, and the thought stayed with me. I used it to remind myself that I was safe, when fear began that predatory circling.

God has always been there; I was the one who turned my face away.

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