This lack of anchorage to any permanent values, this blindness to the true purpose of our lives, produced another bad result. For just so long as we were convinced that we could live exclusively by our own individual strength and intelligence, for just that long was a working faith in a Higher Power impossible. This was true even when we believed that God existed. We could actually have earnest religious beliefs which remained barren because we were still trying to play God ourselves. As long as we placed self reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God’s will, was missing.
I am not completely faithful and totally convinced. My thoughts about how God acts in our lives and God’s will for us spans the spectrum. A small piece of me holds out the possibility that we are just very highly evolved animals, and that there is no spiritual realm, no after life. A small piece. Mostly I see the miracles that have been wrought in my own life, and I feel these things do not take place in the material world. But honestly I don’t know.
I’ve decided to act as if there is a Higher Power and a greater good, inasmuch as that is possible. I remember reading the Eleventh Step St. Francis prayer to someone when I first joined AA. I asked him what he thought of it, and he said it sounded like the same old liberal Protestant crap. My religion and my AA are pretty clear about the fact that my purpose in life is to serve God and other people. If there is no God, it still makes me happiest (in a sense) to serve other people. This is when I personally feel most fulfilled, especially as it relates to my profession and to being paid to do something, and to supporting myself. So it’s no huge stretch for me to serve others, it’s what I like to do. What I’m trying to do is understand how that makes it a character defect of sorts, not just some altruistic wonderfulness on my part.
As for being self reliant, or reliant upon God, I do not understand this concept much at all. I sort of try to believe that our human existence doesn’t much matter to God. That’s how I make sense of it when bad things happen to good people, and when good things happen to bad people. My reliance upon God can’t stretch to things like my daily bread. I do not believe this is given to me by God. If it is, why does he withhold it from others? Every day, people, innocent and wonderful people, are stretched beyond their ability to cope and they die, sometimes awful deaths. In the rooms we often talk about being spared some alcohol induced tragedy, but why were we saved, and not the next person?
Perhaps I can make sense of this reliance upon God in terms of trying not to worry about my needs and my life. My needs will be met, or they won’t. I will live longer, or I won’t. It’s not for me to control, and maybe God does or maybe God doesn’t. The next right thing remains the next right thing, regardless.