Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Faith replaces fear
In the days of my using, I had no real belief in any kind of Higher Power, except myself. I had faith in my own abilities, but as my addiction deepened, even that began fading away. My Higher Powers had become Lady Cocaine and John Barleycorn, and I worshipped at their altar. I had faith that they could solve all my problems.
My first inkling of a practical faith came early in my recovery. When my chemical coping skills were taken away, I was left with no answer to my anger and an overwhelming resentment. That resentment had driven out every other thought in my head, and I was beside myself with rage. Then a friend shared a prayer with me.
I thank you for taking away my resentment,
and replacing it with the faith that
no matter what happens
everything will be alright."
I told him I wasn’t sure I believed in God, and I certainly didn’t know how to pray. He said, don’t worry, just do it anyway. So, I did, twice a day, and to my great surprise in about a week, my resentment had been all but taken away. It wasn’t completely gone, but it no longer filled my aching mind.
As a scientist, when you perform an experiment and it works, you want to repeat it, to see if your observation is real. It wasn’t long before I got the chance. And, lo and behold, it worked again. Then again and again. Without my knowledge, I was acquiring the faith that this prayer really worked. It was a practical tool I could use whenever I needed it. And it wasn’t just good for resentments, it worked on my anger, my obsessions, and my fears. Especially my fears, which is critically important.
Fear is a powerful emotion, and a negative force that can drive our thinking and which fuels all our character defects. It is, in the simplest sense, the opposite of love. But, like any other emotion, it has no reality to back it up. (Next time you are at the grocery store, pick up a bag of fear; its next to the apples. NOT!). But today, I know that my friend’s prayer will dispel it from my mind. I have faith in this, for it has been demonstrated over and over in my life.
So, what is faith and where does it come from? I believe it is part of my inheritance as a child of God. (Your idea of God will be different from mine, maybe wildly different, but that doesn’t matter.) My conception of a Higher Power cannot easily be described in words, but it goes something like this—a being completely beyond my understanding or wildest imagination. Unlimited, creative, boundless unconditional love (and the subject of a later post). Everything that was, is, or will exist must, by definition, exist inside it. All of existence, as I think of it, depends on it for its existence. We live and take our being within the heart of God.
The most profound principle that springs from this idea is that we are all the same. All our electrons, enzymes, and thoughts arise from the same source. We are all children of God, however, you may conceive of it/him/he/she. We are each and all enmeshed in all of creation. As a child of God, I have a status, an inheritance, an intrinsic worth that no one can take away. This connection with my Higher Power cannot be broken by anything in the material world.
Faith, at least for me, became a faith in this unshakable connection, and the necessary consequences that followed. That love is more powerful than hate, that kindness if better than enmity, that honesty is better than any lie. These are some of the spiritual principles that can solve all my problems. Most importantly, I have faith that these principles override my worst fear. And, like in the prayer, no matter what happens, everything will turn out all right in the end.
As I sit here typing, at the age of 72, in my life today, everything has in fact turned out alright. The deaths that I have witnessed, the financial and moral bankruptcies I have endured, the worst storms ever, as I sit here, they all turned out alright. I have no reason to believe that in the years I have left, it will be otherwise.
We all have faith in something, whether we realize it or not. My friend George will agree that in his life so far, everything has turned our okay, but he can’t accept the idea that that will always be the case. The fear he cannot see will not let him be at peace. His belief, his faith, is that his fears will be realized in the most horrible of ways.
I have friends who believe they are bound to fail, that God has abandoned them, or that disaster is surely just around the corner. They have a faith in their own fear. Happiness is not something they expect, and, not surprisingly, they are correct in their belief, and they live that belief in their world every day of their lives.
A dear friend once told me that “You are a child of God, and your job is to bring God’s love into the world.” My Higher Power, at least today, is unconditional love and by its very nature only desires the best that life can offer, for each of us. But when I hold onto my fear, when my ego blocks the flow of this unconditional love through me, I am in a Hell of my own making.
Inherent in the idea of faith is that God’s world is perfect just the way it is. My perception of bad and good and evil is just that, my perception. Shakespeare said, “There is no thing good or bad except my thinking makes it so.” When I can see the goodness that the universe is built upon, I have an inescapable faith in the goodness of life, including mine.
Fear is an emotion; it is not real. It drives my character defects and blocks the flow of God’s love through me. It is a negativity that clouds my thinking. Fortunately, it is vanquished by faith; faith in the universe, my Higher Power, or God-as-I-understand-Him. Life is good, life is easy, and if it seems otherwise, maybe I’m doing it wrong.
“Overcoming substance abuse through the use of the spiritual principles behind 12-Step programs, to find long-term recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol and to live a sober life.”