The Force Is With Us, Always

This weekend, the new Star Wars movie has opened with as much fanfare as perhaps any movie ever. One of the chief ideas driving the story of the Star Wars saga is “The Force,” an invisible spiritual energy that binds the universe together and gives people powers they wouldn’t otherwise have. Those who believe in it will give one another the benediction, “May the Force Be with You.”

In OA, we are also granted special powers beyond our own abilities. The Force is with us! This is most outwardly obvious in our relationship to food and our physical recovery. The first Step tells us that we are utterly powerless over food. We can’t control it whatsoever. Our bodies usually indicate this whether we are fat or too skinny or bouncing in between. The second Step tells us that we won’t be restored to any kind of normalcy around food without a Higher Power. For the Star Wars inclined, we must use The Force. Or more accurately, let it use us.

Of course, that’s not all there is to it. We are also powerless over our feelings and emotions. Our literature tells us that our physical compulsion to eat actually begins in our minds. We first obsess about food in reaction to our feelings. The disease centers in our minds, and we are activated before the first bite is taken. We need a Force to help us here as well, and the Steps show us how to call upon that Force when we need help conquering the fears and emotions that drive us to hurt ourselves with food. Because we obviously can’t cope with those things ourselves, or we would have done so already.

Of course, this all means that we have also had a spiritual sickness. We have shunned God and left the idea of a Higher Power to die on the vine. We need the Steps and the guidance of someone with experience to help us find our Higher Power and tap into Its amazing flow of positive energy. In the original Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker’s mentor Ben Kenobi says things to him such as “Feel the Force,” “Let go of your feelings,” and “The Force will be with you, always.” Sounds pretty familiar, right? Our sponsors and the program are telling us to feel the presence of a Higher Power; to let go of what troubles us and give them to God; and that our HP will always be there for us, no matter how grave the situation. Whether the crisis occurs in a galaxy far, far away or just behind our eyes, the answer is the same! Spiritual principles are the same everywhere: Trust and rely on God, whatever your concept of God is, whatever you might call God, no matter what the situation is. That’s what OA tells us that the essence of spirituality is. An idea that is shared through virtually every spiritual or religious concept out there.

Finally, the Jedi in the Star Wars saga use their Force-given powers unstintingly to help others. That’s exactly what OA asks of us. Think of others, ask God how we might be helpful to someone besides ourselves, and let our spiritual discoveries lead us to new ways to bring peace and goodwill to the world.

Hey, it’s fun to see incredible aliens, watch spacecraft hurtling through the stars, and enjoy the thrill of evil enemies meeting their match. But right here, in our own lives, we get to enjoy the benefits of a Force if not “The Force.” We aren’t granted superhuman powers, but rather the amazing power to be merely human. To walk among people with our chins up, meeting the world on its terms, and living happy lives instead of turning back to the dark side that our disease has chained us to for so many years. The Force is with us. Always!

Tradition of the Month: Tradition 12

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Many of us compulsive eaters do a lot of people pleasing. We share frequently about our dread of conflict, our willingness to do anything to avoid other people’s bad opinion. We seem in general to hurt ourselves with food rather than take it out on those who are hurting us.

The reasons why this might be the case are debatable, and we will each arrive at our understanding of those reasons as we take fourth-step inventory. What’s important as OA members is that we end people-pleasing behaviors, and the Twelfth Tradition points us in that direction.

Another way of thinking of people-pleasing, conflict-avoidance, and their many sibling behaviors is codependence. We don’t want to put anybody out because we feel overly responsible for their feelings. The reality is that we can hardly control our own feelings, so why in the world should we control another’s? Tradition 12 tells us that principles come before personalities, just as we learn in Steps 4 and 5 that feelings are not facts.

Tradition 12 is telling us something very, very important. When we deal with one another, we must put to use the most important life-strategy we learn in OA: Trust and rely on God. When we ask someone publicly or privately to keep the Traditions, we are taking right action and letting God handle the results. We are not in the results business. We can’t make anyone do anything. What we can do is speak gently and kindly about the importance of the Traditions and let the other person decide for themselves. Which is the other important aspect of all this. By letting people hear our suggestion and do with it as they will, we treat them as adults. We let them have their own feelings. We are not trying to shape or control those feelings like we used to. That’s old behavior we are trying to get rid of after all!

We need not worry that we’re being a “Traditions Nazi” or anything like that. What we are doing is safeguarding the program that saves our lives. Isn’t keeping OA going more important than our worries about offending or disappointing a single person on a single day? And anyway, we never know what can come of such an interaction. For example, that person may see the courage that making your suggestion takes as evidence that this program works.

Beside which, personalities are fickle. We addicts know that one day we can be hale and hearty and the next day fearful and paranoid. We can’t begin to know what someone else will be like from one day to the next. Our fellowship has survived not by trying to gauge one another’s moods but by giving us all structure and consistency within which to safely have those moods. That structure is the Traditions, and the consistency comes from the principles they embody.

Remember the old saying: The Steps keep me from killing myself; the Traditions keep me from killing everyone else.


Step of the Month: Step 12…A Small Word with HUGE Implications

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

There are three parts to Step 12 as you can see:

  1. spiritual awakening
  2. carrying the message
  3. practicing these principles

Today, let’s just look at the first of these by focusing on one very simple word that appears in Step 12. That word is the. As in “the result of these Steps.” If we remember back to our high school English classrooms, the expresses “definiteness,” while a/an are the indefinite article. So what? Consider these two phrases:

  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps…
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as result of these Steps…

Bill, Dr. Bob, and the early AAs were telling us very specifically what the Steps are doing for us. They are causing us to enter into a relationship with a Higher Power that will change our lives. Had they used the indefinite article, as in the second example above, what would they have been claiming were the other results of the Steps? Not drinking or eating, of course. Getting one’s spouse back? Or house? Restoring one’s health? Having one’s children move back into your home? Maybe money is coming our way? We could increase the list ad infinitum, which is precisely why the appears in Step 12. AA made no guarantees about circumstances and situations, rather they guarantee that, done honestly and thoroughly, the Steps will help us “enter into a new relationship with our Creator.”

Or we might say that they promise that the promises of the Big Book will come true. There are dozens of those sprinkled across pages i to 164, and they are not exaggerations if the experiences of millions of drunks, overeaters, junkies, gamblers, sex addicts, debtors, and others are any indication.

But what about our food??? The Big Book book has plenty to say on this. Here are three examples:

“The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.” (43)

“When the spiritual malady is over come, we straighten out mentally and physically.” (64)

“We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” (85)

In other words, our food is no longer our problem. It’s God’s food now, and God is the one who removes our insanity and our compulsive eating through this process. Step 12 need not mention the food because it is already covered by the spiritual experience.

And that’s why the is so important. Because no other possible result from the Steps conquers our problem with food. But this one does, and it takes care of all our other problems too. Now that’s a great result!!!