Friday, May 9, 2008

Addiction and Grace

I have recently read the book, "Addiction and Grace" by Gerald G. May, M.D. and was so touched by the ideas presented in the book that I'm re-reading it. What surprises me is that many of the ideas Dr. May represents are parallel to the ideas presented in the 12-step model, which you know I have little use for. But for some reason the way Dr. May presents them makes them more palatable to me and I find myself nodding in affirmation, feeling the words and ideas as a truth my cells know something about. This is how the book begins:

1. Desire: Addiction and Human Freedom

After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people's hearts, I am convinced that all human beings have an inborn desire for God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is our deepest longing and our most precious treasure. It gives us meaning. Some of us have repressed this desire, burying it beneath so many other interests that we are completely unaware of it. Or we may experience it in different ways - as a longing for wholeness, completion of fulfillment. Regardless of how we describe it, it is a longing for love. It is a hunger to love, to be loved, and to move closer to the Source of love. This yearning is the essence of the human spirit; it is the origin of our highest hopes and most noble dreams.

From the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Chapter 4 - We Agnostics

Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself. We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us.

I wonder a lot about this idea - that a desire for god is part of our DNA as human beings. What I've stopped wondering about lately is whether it's a part of mine - it surely seems to be. This is where all my images and representations and constructs become confusing, where religious education proves futile. It is not a longing I can attach to anything, it just is - a longing for something that defies definition, a longing that has always been with me, that is much more a part of me than my eyes or the color of my hair, or even the breath of spirit that gives me life in the present moment. It is a longing that I have finally decided to honor.

I also wonder, do you feel this longing?


thailandchani said...

Yes, I do have that yearning.. but not in the way most western religionists see it. I don't yearn for an individual god who knows every hair on my head - or is the arbiter of justice.

I yearn for community. I yearn for the end of the age of separation. I yearn for a return to the knowledge that we are all one - and need each other.

That's my hunger.

Diva Carla said...

When I read the part you quote, Angela, I am reminded of what my son's pastor said in his wedding sermon, and I may have quoted here before:

God' love for us is Erotic, that is: God desires US!

How does this perspective land inside you, that Divine Longing, Divine Desire is TWO WAY!

It explained even better than DNA the relentlessness of this desire to me, cause even if I take a break, or think for the moment I am satisfied, Mother/Father Creator, Divine ONE does not cease Desiring ME..

Oooh. Awesome.

PS, Love your posts on recovery, and I also hope you will finish telling us about your trip, and soon have pictures of Kayaking around Flathead Lake!

Anonymous said...

Dido to thailandchani . . . that is what I was thinking about myself. Western religions turned me off to God. . . frightened me! Because I knew I was bad and was going to be dammed!
We are all one, we all are good, our ego seems to separate and dominate us. Self awareness brings likeness and if we are alike we can't judge, therefore we can't do wrong, just be . . . human.
I believe community is what we are missing it has slipped away in this generation and with community, support, love, comes faith.

Lydia said...

My blog post of April 29, titled "Who Weeps for God" might interest you in light of your question.

Because I was so repelled by the Christian right in the 1980's I had shut all that out of my life. Then one October morning almost 23 years ago I was driving to work along hilly country roads. No room now for descriptions of the beauty I saw or the deadness I realized was inside of me. I said out loud, "Oh God, I've lost all the joy." That was it and that was all. Late that night after massive amounts of booze I checked myself into detox. In no way do I see God as having an erotic yearning for me (sounds just like a minister to say that). God's yearning was for me to be well and to re-establish joy for His/Her creation and for my creative gifts.

Angela said...

Chani, I do yearn for a god specific to me while at the same time realizing that's probably my ego talking. :)

Carla, I think if god gave us that longing, it is probably an extension of her longing for us.

Island Girl, I think the yearning can be satisfied in community as much as anywhere - loving one another as ourselves.

Lydia, Sounds like you were touched by grace in a very profound way. I'll get over and read that post.

Rick Hamrick said...

Angela--the yearning is there, and yet the answer for each of us can be different, and right at the same time.

For me, it is my own quiet time, allowing my connection, my spirit, to advise and counsel.

What does my experience mean to you? Perhaps nothing! There are, in my most-expert estimation (?!?), as many paths to God or enlightenment or to that place where folks who are not certain that either of these even exist, go, as there are individuals.

It's all okay, because we all are empowered to choose for ourselves. Even better, we are all able to change our minds and choose another path at any point.

We will all get there. Some will have all kinds of wounds acquired on the way, and some will look as if they just emerged from a total makeover. It won't matter, in the end, as all that ego stuff falls away.

claudia said...

It's funny because I think before I got into recovery and even long after, "God" really seemed like about the last thing I "yearned for." Someone had to tell me I might think about desiring a God of my own understanding to help me solve my problems, to restore me to sanity (which to me simply means " a way of thinking that doesn't hurt me and everyone/thing else!"). First I had to be drug and alcohol free long enough to realize how badly I did need power of some kind to make life tolerable. I'd been using the power of alcohol and drugs to do that for a long time -- I didn't see until many years later that it really was about power for me -- power = what moves me from one thing to another...just power, you know? Pretty much personality-less! Like gasoline. But then I started to hunger for a Loving power -- one who gave a shit about me, who might care for me and have an interest in helping me. And that's where it started, for me, with the steps. There are so obviously many paths to God, to me the steps were the perfect path -- for me they led without prejudice or dogma or anyone wanting anything back from me -- no deals, just relationship, just love and help.

I think it is so amazingly fucking excellently COOL that you found these two quotes -- proving once again your "authentic open-mindedness."

Pretty cool, Angela.

Jane said...

I used to go to support meetings for my ex's addictions way back when. I remember having a hard time with the God part because back then I was very agnostic. Years later, and many battle wounds to boot, I know how big a role God plays in my life.

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