Last Updated on 12 February 2024
12 step spirituality through SLAA has wonderfully enriched my concept of and trust in a higher power. It is very important to me that the 12 step programs speak of ‘a higher power of our own understanding’. There is an openness about that. It shows great respect for the range of spiritualities that exist among people and among addicts. However, I have been a Christian all my life with a mostly stable belief in a higher power who I choose to refer to as ‘God’. At the core of this belief has been a conviction that it is in the person of Jesus Christ that I see God most clearly. Over the seven decades of my life so far, many experiences have deepened, matured, and made more real the presence of God in my life.
Nevertheless, I was stunned recently when I found myself writing something in my journal that had come to me in a way I could not resist. Part of my morning spiritual disciplines involves listening to and journaling about a daily reflective devotional reading. This includes one or more prompts to consider where the reading might intersect with my own life. On this particular morning the prompt was ‘what does God mean to you?’ My first response was that God means a great deal to me. Then I paused, pondered what I had written, crossed it out, and wrote in its place ‘God means everything to me.’
I haven’t ever thought like that as far as I can recall. Why? Because I believe that God wants everything in this world to mean something to me. People (notably my children and grandchildren), the natural world, food, music, literature, sport, and so on. To declare that God means everything to me would require me, I thought, to deny the value of all of those gifts of life, indeed gifts from God. But then it struck me that the 12-step program has wonderfully helped me to recognise how everything in my life is connected; that God is involved in it all, in both the gloriousness and the messiness of the world and of life – of me.
And so, to regard God as meaning everything to me is a declaration that God is with me in it all; that God will help me experience genuine fullness of life even in the addiction itself. That is why I am able to surrender to God, and invite God to be with me in my addiction, and in my recovery (which, by the way, is lifelong). And that in turn allows me to declare so counterintuitively that I am a grateful sex and love addict. Simultaneously sad about the harm my addiction has done to others and to me, but grateful that God working in that addiction is helping me to grow in ways that I could not have imagined.