Growing up I was taught to believe in the Christian faith and to revere God. I didn’t do much of that though and I always questioned why I could never bring myself to fully trust God. My reasoning was time after time again he never showed up for me when I needed him. He wasn’t there in my pain, my grief, my loss and my shame. The only place I could ever feel at peace and have a sense of belonging was in nature. To me that was my church, and it's one of the reasons I vowed to never return to a real church. In church I saw the hypocrites, the bible thumpers, and I saw a lot of people who didn’t have my struggles. I felt like the people around me didn’t know the meaning of struggle, they couldn’t comprehend the hate I felt, the pain I endured, and it only reinforced my negative image of religion and God. They lived such sheltered lives, and only worshipped God when it was convenient and things were good. That the perspective I saw and why I walked away.
I still struggle with this narrative, and I don’t regularly attend church. I see religion as a means to divide, not to unite. People choose to spread hate under the guise of religion and I refuse to partake in this charade. Instead, I chose spirituality, and faith. My faith can be whatever I need it to be and that’s all it needs to be. I have been able to explore the world, cultures and my spiritual existence because of this. It opened my eyes to new and different possibilities. It helped me come to terms with my higher power, my God. To me he can be a friend, when before God was something out of reach, someone I could never communicate with. In recovery, my higher power guides me, loves me, and walks alongside with me every step of my journey. The God of my childhood never could, and that’s why I was finally able to make the change and work the steps of recovery. My God is here besides me always, even as I write these words Hes beside me, guiding my hand. I find my compatriots in the lost, the ones struggling and the sinners. I'm right where I need to be and my higher power guided me here. I struggle to find my place in the church, but I am more open to it than I was before.
Coming from this twisted narrative and view I had of God, it made it very difficult for me to ask for help. I had to have complete faith and trust in something I could no longer see or feel and I was wary of that notion. I finally reached the point I could no longer move forward on my own and fell to my knees to ask for God to come back into my life. I opened the spiritual door, and invited the light back in. Every day when I wake up and before I go to bed, I still get down on my knees to pray. To thank God for my sobriety, and for his will to be done, not mine. I could not have made this journey without the men and women in AA who shared their strength and hopes to me as a newcomer. To tell me how they chose to accept their higher power, and something inside me just clicked when I heard that God could be a friend. Huh I thought, now that’s something I can work with, I can accept that and go from there.
Every day I try to do the best I can in my own life and to listen to my higher power guiding me. Once again, I don’t always get it right, my ego gets in the way and life stops me in my tracks. I'm learning to grow along spiritual lines to better understand Gods will for me in my life, and to share my testimony with others. God gave me the gift to tell my story a long time ago, but I never decided to use it. God gave me the chance to tell my story on my own terms rather than let someone else tell my story. I think that is one of the greatest gifts God gives us, the gift to tell our story how we choose to. We can choose to tell of the good and the bad while focusing on the good and the real changes that have happened. Or we can choose to tell a story as a victim only, how these bad things kept us trapped within our own minds and we chose to seek self-pity. As for me, I want to share my story and shine light where there was darkness in my life. To illuminate the parts that were hard, that were painful and left an imprint in my soul. Thank you for allowing me to share my story with every one of you, and I hope in some ways you can relate. So, I pray for this, that you illuminate the shadows of your past in order to heal. I pray that you find the strength to tell your story and to let your story bring hope to others. I found hope in those rooms, in those meetings, and I'm here to tell you your past experiences have enormous worth.
With Much Love, Mack