My Difficulty With Finding A Higher Power

by Dick on February 3, 2012 · 12 comments

in 12 Steps, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Alcoholism, Recovery, Sponsors

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“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” –Step 2, Alcoholics Anonymous

For my Step 2 work, my sponsor told me to write a blog entry on my ongoing difficulty with the Higher Power concept. Like most new AA members, this is very hard for me. And as an attorney, I’m definitely guilt of over-thinking and over-analyzing the entire concept! Whoops, occupational hazard.

First a little background. I grew up in a secular Jewish home. I went to Hebrew school three times per week, synagogue on High Holidays and had my Bar Mitzvah, but I never connected with God.

There was no God or a Higher Power in my household. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite. My grandmother was Holocaust survivor, living through Auschwitz and other notorious concentration camps. My mom was born in Germany in a displaced persons camp after the camps were liberated. Her father was also a survivor, having escaped a Siberian labor camp during World War II. My grandfather was a baker and they struggled financially. With my mom the best English speaker in the house, she became sort of like a de facto head of the household. I don’t think my mother had much use for God, although due to my recovery she is rediscovering her relationship with a Higher Power. My dad never spoke of God to me, but he tells me now he believes in the concept.

Personally, I’m a firm believer in science, logic and rationality. What do you expect? I’m an attorney! I studied religion and theology in undergrad. Arguing about God and theology is fun for me, actually!

Right now, I just don’t believe there is an Almighty-Power-Of-The-Universe-God. I cannot prove there is a God. And I recognize that I cannot prove there is not a God. (Pardon the double negative).

Why does AA suggest such a strong reliance on a Higher Power? Is it necessary? Is it effective? Do you have to embrace a Higher Power in order to achieve a healthy sobriety? These are some of the questions I ask.

Sometimes I think that since a lot of alcoholics are so lost, they need something to hold onto to ground them, and a Higher Power or God fills that void. Sometimes I think the whole Higher Power thing is just one big mind-f*ck, used to reverse brainwash alcoholics into a healthier way of thinking. And sometimes I just cannot fathom that people actually believe that God or some “higher power” has so much control over their daily lives and destiny. Inconceivable!

I understand that AA does not require a belief in a Higher Power, as all the steps are merely suggestions.  And AA does not require a belief in God per se. Step 2 speaks only of a “Higher Power.”

My sponsor and a lot of successful recovering alcoholics stress the importance of finding a Higher Power. I know it’s important. It has worked for a lot of people. I cannot debate that. It will be a progression for me.

They say the group can be your Higher Power; as long as it’s not me. I can buy into that, for sure. I’m a big believer in the power of the AA fellowship and the group itself. At some meetings, especially smaller circle meetings, there is definitely this positive energy in the room which flows throughout and I can feel that.

The AA program works. I see it every day. It’s working for me now. Group Of Drunks. G O D. That’s cool with me right now.

Maybe someday, I will have more of a refined concept of a Higher Power. Maybe someday I will accept God in my life. I’m open to it. I’m just not ready for it right now. That’s ok.

The Step says “came to believe,” which implies a journey to find a higher power. My journey has only started.

One day at a time…


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  • CoDA Codie

    Thanks for your honesty.  It took me 7 years to unlearn all that I had learned about “God” and come to comfortably know and trust a Higher Power of my understanding.  I will say, it has made a HUGE difference in my ability to work the 12 steps.  They mean more and I am able to grasp more with the help of an HP. Thanks for letting me share.

  • Zach W.

    Good blog!  The ‘Higher Power’ stuff can be a tough one for some people. It’s not something I had a problem with, so it’s tough for me to relate. But the friends I have in the program who have had difficulty with it talk a lot about it not being important to say ‘yes’ to believing, so much as to stop saying ‘no’.

  • Sober Lawyer

    Thanks for the nice comments! It’s definitely a work in progress…

  • Anonymous

    I’m a practicing Buddhist and I’m in Recovery. This issue is tricky for me. I don’t identify with a separate God entity and I find some discussion of God and prayer to sound very servile.

    That said, I absolutely surrendered my will when I came in. Today I *rely* on spiritual principles, as well as other people, and I know there are powers beyond myself. As a practicing Buddhist it’s hard to think of myself as a minority in the rooms of Recovery (because then I feel separate) but that’s when I try to recognize, likely members are more concerned that each one of us has faith in something, and that I am joyous and free, than prescribing to any particular concepts of God. If anything I’ve seen more thoughtful discussion and respectful “Live and Let Live” re: the G-word in those rooms, than anywhere else.

    Thanks for sharing!

    (I liked this video – “God Can Be A Person” –

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  • Miss D

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve literally spent the evening googling “finding a higher power” because I’m working the 1st step but know what’s right around the corner. I was also raised in a secular Jewish home and come from a scientific background. I love what you said about the group and the energy between people too… I feel it, but I can’t bring myself to pray to it. I have a lot of work to do!

    • Dick

      Your welcome Miss D. Thanks for the comment!


  • Kathryn Z.

    With only 11 and 17 meetings behind me, the group is my scaffolding right now. That’s pretty powerful. Outside of meetings I look to nature and the enormity of the universe as being more powerful and substantial than my single soul. Right now, that’s enough.

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  • Cheri

    I googled “how to find my higher power” I’m
    Not the only one ! Lol! Raised in a Jewish home also by a scientific agnostic father and a spiritual liberal mother, it’s confusing. I also felt an energy in the room, maybe that is my higher power for now. I’m
    Really stuck . Can anyone tell me what a higher power is? Who it can be? Can it be my mom who
    Passed away, or not a good idea because I had issues with her?help!

    • Weirwolfe

      I had a really hard time connecting to a Higher Power. One night I desperately looked up at the stars and suddenly realised that whatever can hold all there heavenly bodies in place is more powerful than me and would do just fine as my HP.

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