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Beside Restful Waters

“If you comprehend it, it is not of God.” -St. Augustine

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” -Step 3 of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

So, who is correct, Dr. Bob and Bill W. or St. Augustine?

I’ll offer a bit of frustrating wisdom from my readings of Richard Rohr: both.

I have struggled greatly with the thought that I can understand God. I don’t understand how the elements of creation can be beautiful beyond description in a sunset, mountain vista, or a child’s laugh, and then offer the forces of death and destruction in a hurricane or tornado. Are each not of the same origin? Following the tragedy of a storm, people come forth by the hundreds and thousands to offer assistance, and aide from the depths of their love. We also hear or experience pure terror in our own neighborhoods and across the world.

Those of us in the agony of addiction experience personal destruction to ourselves and to our loved ones. Then, we meet the voices of experience, strength and hope which carry us to sobriety. Further, as we continue in our recovery communities, we learn that our story has been the source of hope for another seeking hope for their shattered life.

If I were to re-write the third step of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, it would be something like this: Made a decision to turn our lives over to the care of God as we experience God.

A man named Mike brings this to mind. Mike and I started our recovery journeys about the same time. Mike admitted that he was an atheist. In his experience there was no God. Over the first few years of recovery, I heard Mike share that “if there is a God, He is here among us in these meetings.” I didn’t see Mike for a few years. When I shared a meeting with him after these years, he spoke of the growing intimacy of his relationship with God.

So what changed?

Who changed?

I have certainly changed. Mike’s story reminds me with the staggering and awesome reality that God will meet me where I am. If I do not believe in the existence of God, He will offer me His grace and love in ways that I can experience Him/Her. God has come to me, in my place of fear, pain and hopelessness. Like a child seeing beauty in a dandelion, God will be and has been where I can see Him. As I allow my heart and spirit to open to God’s presence, the relationship grows and I become more and more aware of grace and love.

I do not understand why.

I struggle to accept that I am loveable.

I am coming to recognize that we are all of the same source.

I am growing in my appreciation that I cannot escape the love and grace of God. I cannot escape that love and grace of you. We who are willing to share our experience, strength and hope are the very hands and hearts of the healing gift of God. Some of us experience this in addiction recovery. Others experience this in other fears and pains of life. Either way, God is the hearts and hands of each of us.

So, who is correct, Dr. Bob and Bill W. or St. Augustine?

I am quite content to simply ignore the question and accept your experience, strength and hope knowing that God is, we are, and that’s enough for me.


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