Accepting that there is a higher power than just ourselves is a big hurdle for a lot of people in recovery and I was no exception.
My Belief System
I grew up in a strict Christian home. We went to church every Sunday and participated in all the extra stuff like Wednesday night church, youth group and youth choir. I remember never wanting to go to church but I didn’t have much of a choice.
I also didn’t have much of choice when it came to what I believed. I was instructed to believe the same things my parents did. There was no room for doubt. I was meant to just accept it all.
The problem was with being in such a strict home, I wanted to rebel. And that meant partying, drugs and sneaking out a lot - typical teenage stuff. But then it also meant rebelling against my parents’ beliefs.
It was hard for me to just accept their version of God because it was theirs and not mine.
And although it made sense to me, it took me a long time to get over it and find my way back to God. I had to spend some time on the other side of the fence to truly realize how good it is on this side.
How To Change Your Beliefs
I had to go out on my own and question everything. I couldn’t just believe what I was told to believe. I had to experience God, or the lack thereof, myself. So that is what I did.
My God became drinking and eating. There was nothing else for me to hold onto. And all that did was lead me down a path of self-destruction. I ended up weighing 505 pounds and feeling like I was about to die at any moment from a heart attack. It also led to severe depression and anxiety. My existence seemed pretty pointless and I felt suicidal for a lot of years.
What changed it all was getting to a place with my drinking and eating where I HAD to change. I was physically in so much misery that I couldn’t take it anymore. Rock bottom. I was going to change or I was going to die. And the truth was, I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted to be free.
That is when I joined Overeaters Anonymous and started learning about the 12 steps of recovery. The genius of the 12 steps is that it brings you back to a relationship with God, one step at a time. If I could accept I was powerless over my addictions (Step One), then I could start to see that there is another power at work (Step Two). And here is the best part - I could define my “higher power” however I wanted to! That meant I got to choose what I believed. No one could tell me what to believe.
Choosing what to believe was the key that changed my whole life.
Now I was willing to look for God. I made a decision to look for him working in my life. And the minute I did that, I started seeing Him everywhere. He was working in my life in crazy ways. He always had been, I just never chose to see it before.
I was able to find my way back to God and this time it was MY God. I was able to choose to believe and to define who God was to me. I could take ownership of my beliefs which allowed me truly internalize them as truth.
It has been quite a journey and it took a while to redefine what I believe. The funny part is I still believe all the same things I was told to believe when I was a kid, but this time it was MY CHOICE and not my parents’. And THAT has made all the difference.