A spiritual, not religious program

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Like many before me, when I first came to NA I was exhausted, beat up and empty. I did not trust my own instincts, and I had no idea how to ask for help. I was confused when first confronted with the 12 Steps and all those references to a Higher Power and God … I did not grow up with any religion at all, so I really did not know what to make of all that. Would I have to become a Christian to stay clean? Would I be expected to go to church? My family is Jewish, maybe I should go to temple?? So many questions! Thankfully I found a sponsor early on who helped me find some answers. Getting in touch with my Higher Power is not the same thing as believing in God, although that’s what many choose to call their Higher Power. For me, my Higher Power is the force in my life that does not want me to suffer in active addiction any longer. It’s the sun on my face, the hugs I get when I walk into a meeting, the joy I experience in helping a newcomer. It’s about being a part of a bigger whole, which then fills the hole inside of me. No one in NA has ever told me to go to church or to follow the teachings of any religious organization. I have been advised to pray and meditate. For me this means taking time out of a busy day to sit quietly with my thoughts, allowing myself time to be grateful for all the good things that have happened in my life since I’ve been clean, thankful for the love and support I have received. My prayers start with saying thank you to my Higher Power, and end with asking for the honesty, open mindedness and willingness to know what my Higher Power’s will is for me and the power to carry it out. Sometimes what comes in between is a hot mess of sorrow and pain, sometimes it’s more gratitude, and sometimes my only prayer is “God damn it!” I don’t mind if others want to talk about the importance of God and their own religion in their recovery journeys, just like they don’t mind if I don’t.   I love that NA is a spiritual program and has taught me how to feel connected to something greater than myself, without ever making me feel like I had to follow any religious teachings.   I’d love to hear other people’s experiences with the spiritual nature of our fellowship, so that newcomers can see that they don’t have to be afraid of “the God thing” that still keeps so many from taking these steps. Please leave a comment below!

3 thoughts on “A spiritual, not religious program

  1. My mother was Catholic my father was Jewish so I grew up resenting pretty much all religions because if I chose one religion the other parent was damn I thought if there was a God it was crappy god. Through my life I’ve been in search of some type of spirituality which to me means a connection. Through my recovery I’ve grown to believe that we are all connected and that there is a power that connects us all and that power can be tapped in to. I believe that Power brought me into NA and helps me stay clean every day. I also believe that connecting with people and the environment surrounding me is mostly what life is all about.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I can relate to this article so much. My mother did not force me or my siblings to choose a religion and I very grateful for that. I decided one day to attend a religious ceremony and the experience left a bad taste in my mouth for years. Narcotics Anonymous opened the door to true spirituality for me and for that, I will be forever grateful.

  3. I came into the program an atheist and I’ve slowly come to believe in the universe, or a universal power that I call God (rather than explain it every time i pray). I feel the power most in NA meetings and when I’m connected to nature.

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