Friday, January 02, 2004

Our Way to God

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I grew up in an alcoholic home. It took years for us, the family, to sort through and understand what that meant, and each of us, in our own way, still carries the legacy, challenges, hurts, and gifts of our unique and sometimes chaotic family life. But as is true of all difficult things in life, I moved through that time with tools and learnings and sensitivities I might not have had otherwise. And one flower of understanding I carry with me today still blossoms because of the strong roots it has in my childhood: the Serenity Prayer and the beautiful accepting philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When I was 13, my mother wanted me to go to Alateen and participate in the groups, but I was both shy and independent and preferred to go it alone. At the time, I didn't really think the alcoholism affected me much because the alcoholic in my life was my stepfather and not my biological father. I didn't learn until 20 years later that patterns are patterns and that what I grew up with I would expect from the world. And so it was.

But I think knowing the 12 step philosophies at an early age gave me a blueprint for life, an understanding of the way people can stand up and take responsibility for themselves and their situation, while developing a real, vital partnership with God. I still live by the Serenity Prayer. I still read, every morning, a little devotional book called In God's Care, which is published by the Hazelden Foundation. Today's devotion was so touching to me that I wanted to share it with you in its entirety:
    Each of us sees and experiences God in a way somehow unique to us. No two people see things exactly alike. That's why our program has no dogma. Each of us is encouraged to follow a spiritual path that seems to have been created for us. And we need not worry if we're on the right one, because every path leads to God. Would God let us lose our way? Of course not. We will know if a course correction is needed, and God will lead us to it.

    Each of us understands God in a way no one else does. There's a place in God's love for each of us. And out of that place we bring light to other people, just as our own special people have brought their light to us.

It's amazing to me that something that was so hard to live with then has such power and grace to comfort me now. Only God could ensure there's always a candle burning in the dark for us somewhere. No matter what our circumstances, good will come of it. We have God's promise.

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