I remember feeling so rebellious watching George Michael’s Gotta Have Faith video when I was a small fry. Those jeans, that hair, the rockin’ guitar strumming…man, was I confused come to find out (as I am sure a lot of ladies were), but my point of that reminiscing was the chorus of that song came back into my life many (well, not too many) years later and has been imperative to my recovery process. What I discovered was I had no faith, yet in finding it, I would fill a void I didn’t even realize was there.
Growing up, we didn’t attend church, and there was no God talk in my house. I remember always being secretly jealous of my friends who did attend church with their families, it was as if they had a special place with an entirely different set of friends; a club I desperately wanted to join. The appeal wasn’t because they were better people, didn’t live better lives, in fact most of my “religious” friends’ parents were the judgiest around; there was simply something about being part of something bigger than myself which peaked my curiosity. I loved how I felt after occasionally attending service with a friend, or after a week at Camp Lone Tree Bible Camp. I felt less anxious, more sense of calm. Something as a young person I couldn’t put my finger on, nor had an outlet to explore. I remember asking my parents about religion and church, they both attended growing up, but it was very casual and didn’t seem to hold much value to either of them so I always let it go. I didn’t want religion, I wanted someone to have my back. I did always pray as a child however, thinking this was the way for me to gain that feeling:
Thank you for everything, please keep us all safe and healthy, if you do __ for me, I’ll do __. Please, please let this happen, or turn out the way I want. I’ll start going to church if __.
It was a very quid pro quo relationship, and had zero basis in faith, hope, or belief. And guess what else, when God didn’t answer my prayers I would get super pissed. I would stop praying for a period of time because clearly it was a waste of my time and energy. I will just deal with things and take care of them all by myself was my attitude. This continued for years, and I have seen in self-reflection and working my steps that it caused me much anger, resentment, and anxiety, also lots of unhappiness over the years.
I laughed out loud at one of my earliest Al-Anon meetings, when a lady recounted her journey to faith, she referred to her pre-program God as a, “Credit Card God.” She couldn’t figure out why nothing would just go the way she wanted when she asked her God for it, she also described that same anxiety, constant fear, and anger, which resounded with me greatly. She, of course, continued on to talk about her step work with her sponsor working to create a relationship with a God of her understanding and praying only to have his will for her heard. That was my Eureka! moment. I had to rekindle that relationship I wanted to have so many years ago, I had to pray and meditate on finding a, “God of my understanding” who would guide me through my life. This was the beginning of faith replacing the fear in my life.
Many hours of step work and long conversations with my sponsor (and myself) later, I finally started to understand. I learned how to pray, learned how to have faith not fear, and not surprisingly felt that weird void start to fill. I didn’t need to ask for anything anymore, I had faith all I needed would be there for me. Now, it may not always come along the path I want, but it is precisely what I need at the perfect time. I still get frustrated when something isn’t going my way, but that is when I need to step back, breath, and remember my Higher Power (HP is his name) is working on it and let it go onto him. I always chuckle and give a mental fist pound to HP every time I see the puzzle pieces perfectly fall into place, even if it took hours, days, or months longer than I wanted for them to all fall together. His timing is perfect, I have absolute faith in that in my life today. I also have confidence that crappy times are supposed to be that way, every day is not full of rainbows and glitter; without the rain neither of those two could ever exist.
I did not find my faith overnight, it took quite some time. Still today, there are brief flickers when my faith is challenged, however I know that is fear trying to creep in, and I choose not to open the door for fear anymore. I am extremely grateful (there’s that gratitude action again) I had all the right people around to demonstrate how vital faith is to living a sane, serene life; it’s something they radiate, and I love having the opportunity of basking in that light of peace with them.
Of course I hoped for Chad to find some faith too, he had that same intrigued aversion to religion as me, and of course I subtly hinted around at it for awhile. I loved and admired how our step father said to Chad his main hope was that Chad would find God. It was a pretty neat experience to witness Chad’s journey, which did eventually lead to finding a God of his understanding. He had been through three rehab centers before he finally landed in the right place at the right time, and had a wonderful sponsor who explained and discussed a Higher Power exactly the way Chad needed to hear it (coincidence, I think not). I have seen finding faith make a drastic change in my brother as well, our God-shaped holes are now filled with hope and belief (mine also has sparkles, clearly).
I challenge you to sit down and be real with yourself about why you have anger, fear, resentments, etcetera, etcetera. I can’t say 100%, but I am fairly sure it will stem from trying to be in control all the time and run every situation, then getting raging bear when your way doesn’t work they way you demanded it should. You can do whatever works for you to get there, but Mr. Michaels was spot on with that famous line, “I gotta have faith.” I had to accept I didn’t have it, then find it, now I gotta have it every minute of every day.
Be Good, Do Good.