Self Will vs God’s Will

At my 12 Steps meeting last night, we each shared our thoughts about Step 3.

Step 3 of the 12 Steps states:

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

It was really interesting to hear other people’s interpretations of what this step means.

For a lot of people, the use of the word “God” is problematic. I agree – for me it’s a significant intellectual hurdle.

As I progress on my 12 Steps journey, I’m constantly trying to walk a fine line of incorporating 12 Steps ideas into my set of beliefs, but without selling out or fooling myself into accepting ideas which, in my heart, I know I can’t accept.

Here are a couple of interpretations of Step 3 which I liked (I’m paraphrasing):

  1. It’s about learning to do the right thing, as opposed to indulging our impulses.
  2. It’s about learning to think of others, being self-less, rather than always thinking about ourselves and our own interests.

Both of those interpretations remind me of Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Rule 7:

Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)

In other words, do the right thing, rather than merely what’s fun, easy, interesting, or in your own self-interest.

That reminds me, I wrote a post about “doing the right thing” a few weeks ago.

12 Steps Without God

In previous blog posts, I’ve explored different ideas about what God might be (according to my own personal understanding).

Most recently I settled on a definition of God that’s something like this:

“God is something like the combination of 2 things:
1) The divine spark which resides in each of us – our potential for greatness;
2) The power of the community of people at 12 Steps meetings.

Bollinger, R. (2019)

… Buuuuut… I have to admit, in the last week I’ve really been losing faith.

I’m now finding it hard to believe in any kind of God at all, even one as loosely and generously defined as above.

It’s not God that got me where I am today, it’s me.

Does that make me arrogant? Does that make me full of self-will? These questions genuinely trouble me.

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think I’ve got everything figured out. Not by a long shot. Every single day I learn something new in my 12 Steps journey.

I’m trying hard to always be open-minded and humble. I want to always be ready to admit I may have been wrong about something. I want to learn from everyone I talk to.

But that doesn’t mean I have to believe in any form of God, does it? He just seems superfluous.

I believe in me… my ability to learn and change and grow.

I really hope that doesn’t make me arrogant. Personally, I find it empowering.

It reminds me that I’m not a useless, broken, unworthy soul. It reminds me that I am capable of greatness… if I put in the hard work.

The Dogma of 12 Steps

I knew something needed to change…

For the last week, I’ve been wrestling with certain aspects of 12 Steps again.

I’ve tried “surrendering” to my Higher Power and to my program…

… but that’s simply not who I am. I’ve always been someone who questions everything.

Some people can simply accept things on faith, ignoring stuff they find problematic. I’m not like that.

But I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I didn’t want to quit 12 Steps altogether. If I could find ways to make it work for me intellectually, I wanted to keep going with it.

Well, the good news is that I’ve found ways past all my sticking points… For now!

I wasn’t comfortable with anthropomorphising my disease of addiction. “Your disease is trying to trick you,” just didn’t make sense any more. Now, I see it merely as a need to stay aware of unhelpful thinking patterns.

I was struggling with the concepts of God and Higher Power. But now I see that God is in all of us. We each hold a divine spark. We just need to get in touch with it and manifest it in the world to the best of our ability.

I’m not happy with the traditional 12 Steps. So I’ve been researching alternative, secular versions. And I think I can find a set which work for me. I may customise them to be uniquely right for me.

It’s really important to me that I stay intellectually consistent. If I feel like I’m fooling myself then 12 Steps isn’t going to work for me.

I’m also fed up with the dogmatic nature of the “step work” workbook. I want to tackle the 12 Steps in my own way, with no pressure to adhere to dogma.

I’m aware that I change my mind a lot. I’m not very consistent over time.

But at least I’m not burying my head in the sand to things I find problematic.

I’m being true to myself. I’m honouring the divine within me.

And it feels right.