It began with the Preamble of Alcoholics Anonymous and ended with the chairperson announcing, “We will close in the usual way.” This simply meant greeting each other with a few encouraging words and exchanging phone numbers.
As a minister, I walked into my first We Agnostics meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous knowing that I belonged because the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking and, I had (and grateful I still have) that desire. However, I was unsure of what I would receive, which made me question: How would I be helped and what could I contribute? How could I fit in with a group of people who believe that the power that I believe keeps me sober today doesn’t even exist? How could I even feel a sense of belonging with people who don’t acknowledge the reality of the most important relationship in my life? As I asked the God of my understanding these questions, I quickly remembered the directions I received when I first became a member…”Sit back…relax…and listen…with an open mind.” I also needed to remember our primary purpose—our number one reason for being…my number one reason for being—to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety.
There are lessons in everything. Think about what you want, not what you don’t want. Look at what you have, not what you don’t have. And finally, live from love and not fear.
I walked into that meeting living from fear and not love. I was too busy fearing our differences instead of loving our common bond. I left that meeting feeling inspired, grateful and humbled—blessed by our fellowship and our fellows.
My friend Chris B. often inspires me. Chris believes in the non-existence of God. I believe in God. Although we come from opposite ends of the belief spectrum, we meet happily and gratefully in the middle for our primary purpose—to stay sober and help others. We share many more commonalities than differences in our fellowship. In the past few weeks I have learned how important it is...for my own recovery and for my ability to help others…to accept and honor our differences and to seek, accept, honor and embrace the beautiful things we share.
I have come to believe that the Infinite Creator will forever infinitely create and express Itself through all of us, as all of us. For me this means that each one of us has great value, purpose and ability…if we use it. To use it we must stay sober…to create lives full of meaning and beauty.
Our agnostic and atheist friends derive purpose, inspiration and love from our fellowship and from us.
Our shared pain, fear, guilt, regret, sadness and loneliness heal us.
Our shared experience, strength and hope give us power beyond words and create miracles beyond understanding or explanation for many of us.
Our language may be different but our pain is the same. Our beliefs may be varied, yet our needs, desires and purpose are the same. We all desperately want to stay sober and we need each other to do so. That will never change.
My friend Chris thinks of GOD as a “Group Of Drunks” or “Good Orderly Direction.” Both express a power much greater than me alone; both carry a sense of hope and belonging—a solution.
“Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny” (Big Book page 168).
Whatever you call the Spirit
doesn’t matter. What matters is that you feel the strength, acceptance and hope from your fellows
. What matters is that you feel a sense of belonging…a sense of purpose…a sense of meaning in your life. What matters most is that you feel love as you trudge that happy road
one day at a time.