Essential Things to Consider When Choosing Your Higher Power

Everyone in my family is an addict. I’m not trying to one-up anyone by saying I’m the DNA goldmine of a predicted junkie – I’ve beaten those odds, so far, somehow, maybe – but by the end of reading this, through the sheer notion of a higher power, you will somehow believe in those closest to you more than ever.

Pretend I put an equation up on a chalkboard: 2+2. “Four!” you would shout, proud and confident. What if I said, “No?” You would be sure I was wrong. But then, what if I wrote you a paper explaining why 2+2 didn’t equal 4, and by the end of reading it, you agreed. This is that paper.

Question everything, even the smallest things you’re sure of – but especially the big things. Through my experience with addiction, if I had to choose which was more powerful, mathematical science or simply believing, I would choose believing. There is no universal equation as to whether a higher power exists or not.

A trick or a treat?

A trick or a treat?

A Higher Power and the Truth

Every Thursday under my local church, a gathering commences in a room with metal foldout chairs where He’s labeled on every wall: God. He’s in every AA meeting, every recovery program, and, well, everywhere – the elephant in the room – large and never-forgetting.

One day, at church, I was praying (a rare occasion) and heard the meeting taking place downstairs. With each repetition of told aloud, desperate thoughts, I grew curious. As I walked down to the basement, I could feel myself tumbling through sheet after sheet of a mirage, finding faith by tripping over a cavernous well. The meeting suited me – again not an addict – but an observer, a Fight-Club-esque seeker of skewed hope.

They talked of a higher power and I listened.

Men in the Sky

We all remember when told Santa wasn’t real, the exact moment, the piney smell that lingered in the air. Time slowed. Eggnog went sour. Christmas was so close, but Johnny blew it for all of us after his older brother spilt the beans. Faces dropped as breaking news trickled down like bad hand-me-downs – wearable defeats of being younger. Hidden from parents, we hushed our newfound awareness, for the presents of course. Would gifts From: Santa turn into… none at all?

The Man in the Sky

It’s raining men

Santa was made up for enjoyment, and while on the subject, God isn’t a man in the sky handing out checks and balances, inquiring, “Have you been naughty, or nice?” I’m not saying He’s not real – the presents involved in this scenario are ones we still keep to ourselves: faith and spirituality… presence. The piney smell hasn’t dissipated – He’s tied to our senses, the ones of joy, of belief, of innocent faith – keeping simple pleasures like eggnog fresh. As kids we were told men were in the sky, and as adults we are left to think on our own.

God is real. God is the deodorant on your bathroom sink you trust to make you smell good; God is the TV in your living room that, just for one minute, lets you escape from reality; God is each twinkle in each star housing each wish you make every time you look up. God is you. God is me. God is everyone we know. God is bigger than addiction. He is the only one who is.

My Experience with a Higher Power

My sister is in recovery (three years sober). Her and God have a close tie, but first, I want to talk about our tie – her and me. Blood to blood. We are opposites. She always dreamed of living in Florida, and I in New York. She studied hard, and I didn’t. The artist she chooses to hum her tunes to is Britney Spears and mine is… not Britney Spears. She is an extrovert – her personality lights up a room. I am as introverted as they come, hidden, I gather thoughts to report back later (a writer). She was popular in high school, all the boys wanted to date her, most would say, “You’re sister is hot,” followed by, “it’s weird, you guys don’t look anything alike.” You’re allowed to laugh at that, I still do.

I’ll just state, wisely, with an anonymous quote, “You can pick your nose but you can’t pick your family”– a saying used to settle minds of those frustrated in the midst of family dysfunction and seemingly unresolvable differences. I bring this up with meaning (I promise) to explore a more settling antidote: you CAN pick your family, and you do, with good reasoning.

So three years ago, Poof! My sister the addict became religious, and everything changed.

Turning Over the Power

Find power in being powerless

I visited her on a scorching hot day in Florida. I hated the heat (the snow bunny that I am) and she wasn’t even fazed by such caustic burning (the super sun soaker that she is). We went to an AA meeting. In this particular meeting, the discussion of God (a higher power) came up again, like it always does. Each person justified their credence, own versions of higher powers, and rationalities for their faith. The room boiled as the conversation turned to me. I, of course, opted out of sharing, and my sister, of course, shared.

What she said taught me more about her than ever before: she believed in love. I cannot quote her exactly, too much time has passed, but she believed love was bigger than herself. She called that concept “God” – a strong force making sense of her world.

The Higher Power of Us

The Higher Power of Us

Us together > me alone

Religion is faith in something bigger than yourself, no matter what it may be – self-imposed or tripped upon. I asked myself what I believed in, and came up with very little at the time, but I know – I truly know – I don’t make the sun rise and set. I do not choose how the world functions as a whole, but am able to address my feelings about it with the concept of family. This time I will share with the group (you):

There are multiple ancient, avant-garde beliefs and theories suggesting that we as spirits choose the family we are born into. Documented in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Celestine Prophecy, many Native American manuscripts, and even some modern day spiritual guides: the first child chooses the parents, then, each sibling after chooses the family as a whole. Our relating spirits, like in marriage, make vows to family members to be in each other’s hearts unconditionally – to form an interminable family. Now everyone probably thinks I’m irrational for entertaining such ideas, but what makes this unalike believing in any higher power, God, love, or all of it? Families are dysfunctional, the bickering seems unending, but I chose my opposite to be my sister. Rivalries push us to grow. I believe in her and us together as something much bigger than myself, a power higher than us as separates.

What if our souls choose who we are supposed to be with before we are aware of it, and that is the exact definition of a soul mate?

I told you to think about the old and wise saying, “You can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family.” I have been able to come full circle with that. Yes, we can pick our nose, but also, we can pick our family. We do. We pick our faith. We pick our God. We pick our higher power.

2 + 2 Doesn’t Equal 4

An addict + an addict doesn’t equal an addict; we are the sum of our experiences. I should be an addict, the chances are high, but the addicts I chose to be in my family made me not one. My argument for 2+2 not equaling 4 is that life is arbitrary. The only thing that’s definite is death. Drugs cause death, but recovery has numerous, lively outcomes. Recovery isn’t an equation you memorize to always get correct, but a solution you must believe in.

Maybe God isn’t an elephant in the room, but someone we can all talk about and accept – especially for addicts – to find love in our hearts. In the recovery world, you will get numbers, statistics, and religious facts thrown at you (many are useful, scientific, and logical) but scientists focus on the external, and artists focus on the self. Don’t forget about the self. Don’t forget about a higher power. The answer to recovery is infinite – an equation with no answers and a million of them all at once. You just have to find which answer you want to pick, you probably already know what it is.