2009, man. It's already been as full as a year for me in many ways.
Yet I'm so glad it's only February. It feels like a year that bodes lots of trouble , but -- and this is the source of my gladness -- also lots of roots-deepening and rich, rich joy.
As disclosed previously, I am on a 12 Step journey. Recently, I "completed" Step 3 (since it's pretty much a daily, sometimes hourly commitment, it's pretty much impossible to "complete" but I have finished the work suggested by my sponsor through Step 3 -- next up: Step 4, which is a topic fit for another post).
Step 3 is one of the deal-breakers for a lot of people who walk into 12 Step program rooms and then leave them just as quickly. And mostly for this nasty little three letter word: "God."
The Step itself is: "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God."
It's easy, and common, for people to think that "God" means the same thing, in rough enough terms, for everyone who uses it. Usually something along the lines of an omnipotent, omniscient, more or less loving, more or less wrathful, deity who is responsible for the creation of the universe, and who metes out karma with a figurative or literal long pointed finger, more or less justly. I know there are plenty of people in 12 Step programs for whom this God works.
It doesn't for me. I can't understand God that way. But I don't understand God, either -- so then, there's that.
Here's what I have come to understand: I do not have, and cannot obtain, conscious access to the power or strength of character within myself to reliably make the right choices for myself. Certainly where food is concerned, but in a lot of areas of my life. I wish it were otherwise. I do. But take Facebook, as a trivial example. I will futz around on Facebook for hours while any number of things far more important to me are not getting done. I'd like to get those things done. I know that they need to be done. Often I even recognize how easy and more pleasurable they'll be to do compared to working myself up into an anxious tizzy about all the time passing while I "FB," but somehow, whatever mechanism it is that allows other people to choose their actions and implement them without delay is not functional in my life. I've got forty years of experimentation on this in various arenas, and feel quite sound about this claim. I'm not without self-esteem, or the ability to recognize that I have many lovely traits. But the ability to self-regulate obsessive-compulsive behavior is not one of them.
So -- all would be hopeless. I would be certain to die of morbid obesity or some other result of this character flaw except for the very strange fact that it works for me to allow myself to believe that a power greater than me, outside of my mind (or, at the very least, outside any part of my mind that I will ever be able to control), will not only help me to self-regulate if I ask, but wants to. Wants my freedom from obsessions of all forms which divert my attention from the business of living.
I don't ask myself what that something is, really. It kind of makes me nervous to ask -- like peering over a cliff-face down to the bottom of a very, very deep chasm. But I call it God.
And for the last several days, I've been putting my life in God's hands. I have a ritual for it. I gathered a bunch of symbols and photos of the things in my life that mean the most to me and put them in a little sack, and then every morning, and sometimes throughout the day, I pick up that sack and set it in a set of porcelain hands someone gave me a long time ago.
The thing about those hands -- they're so feminine, so graceful and open -- if I am developing my own new understanding about God, I like the image those hands convey.