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!

Member Experience #4: What About the God Thing?

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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:

  1. There was a Power great than myself
  2. This Power had the ability to change my food behaviors for me
  3. 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.