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I did a lot of research about OA before I walked in the door of my first meeting. The God thing had me worried because I had finally shaken off my religious upbringing. I considered myself a committed atheist. In reality, I was an atheist who should’ve been committed.
I knew some 12-Step folks, and they told me, to a person, that I didn’t have to worry about the God business. Later I learned this was a gentle way of saying don’t let your pride and your prejudices get in the way of a joyful recovery. Soon, you all showed me that it didn’t matter what my belief about God consisted of, so long as I believed three things:
- There was a Power great than myself
- This Power had the ability to change my food behaviors for me
- This Power would do so, if I created a relationship with It.
Nothing there about beards, lightning bolts, or afterlives. Nor anything about my character or that I had to fear punishment. Nor anything about any appointed person I had to go through in order to seek this power. In fact, the three points I learned told me that this Power loved me and wanted a direct relationship with me. Perhaps most important: I could believe anything else about a Power greater than myself that I wanted to and that helped me recover.
It took me about six or eight months to fully comprehend this idea, but when I did, OA opened up for me in an amazing way. Abstinence wasn’t something I had to fight for, it was something that I asked for, participated in, and gratefully received. It took me another year before I comfortably used the word God, but it’s faster to say than “Higher Power.” It took me a little more time yet to be willing to capitalize the G in God. I do so now because it reminds me that God is a real thing, and because It has helped me, so I owe the respect of an uppercase letter. A small thing? Yeah, but for a former atheist, a huge change.
In the end, I suppose that the organized religion of my youth might yet consider me an atheist because I don’t believe in its concept of god anymore. That’s OK with me nowadays; everyone has the right to their own beliefs. And today I believe in a concept that works for me and keeps me out of the food and in OA. The God thing worked out just fine.
OA.org recently added a page to its site called To Atheists and Agnostics which is well worth a moment to read.