I am a member of OA who is successfully working the program, and I am an atheist, or maybe an agnostic, but I’m not concerned with the label. I consider myself a spiritual person, but I do not have a Higher Power to whom I pray.

I have been in OA for twenty-eight years. My current abstinence is six years. I am maintaining a 50-pound (23-kg) weight loss. I practice all the Tools. I attend several meetings a week. I sponsor and am sponsored.

When I first came to OA, I had a Higher Power whom I prayed to and felt protected by. My life was going well, and I thought this was my HP watching my back. I lived in a spiritual community where I ate healthy food, felt accepted and appreciated, and even found a husband. Unfortunately, the community broke apart, and I had to leave.

I found OA in my new location, but it was harder to stay abstinent. It was also harder to stay married, and my marriage ended. I resumed my career but was not successful due to character defects. Eventually, the career challenges became insurmountable. I gave up trying to be a psychiatric nurse, panicked, and relapsed.

It was not losing my spiritual community, my husband, or my abstinence that convinced me there was no HP watching my back. It was the loss of my career. At that point, my HP seemed punitive.

Fortunately, I forged a new identity, one about neither being a nurse nor being special. Stuff happened, even to me; my HP was not punishing me or singling me out. I came to believe there was a Power greater than myself who was not an entity but something like the laws of physics. I don’t understand the laws of physics, but I don’t need to. I am attracted to the concepts of Good Orderly Direction (GOD) and “do the next right thing.”

This way of living works fine for my OA program. For example, I work the Eleventh Step by clearing my mind of thoughts and words. I receive guidance during meditation, while swimming laps or walking my dogs, from listening at meetings, and at times when I don’t expect it. It feels like this guidance comes not from outside my body but from a place of higher consciousness that can only be accessed when I am calm and open-minded.

— Mercy F., Austin, Texas USA

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