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Fresh and Vital

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While doing some writing about the “vital spiritual experience” described in the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th. ed., p. 27), I had a brand-new thought. I identified with the person being described: someone wanting very much to be free of the addiction that was making his life impossible, puzzled and despairing over why he couldn’t stop. For myself, I’d given the passage about that spiritual experience a quick nod: “I got that.”

But have I got it? I’ve had powerful encounters with my Higher Power—of that I have no doubt. I have felt the love and presence of a Divine Being. But the passage continues, “Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.”

Does that describe me? Does that describe what I’ve done so far with my ideas about food? Portions? Special events? Trigger foods? Up until now, I’ve clung to my old ideas, clearly not casting them to one side. Instead, in numerous areas, I’ve negotiated, debated, and flat-out refused to change my mind. Can I offer up all my thinking—on God, food plans, diets, and recovery? Am I willing to let new ideas dominate me?

The Big Book goes on to say, “while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience” (p. 27). Gulp. His convictions were not just average or okay or good, they were very good, yet still insufficient! Then I realized: at some point, I’d decided that if I’d ever had any spiritual experience or conviction at all, I could tick this point off my recovery list and move on.

It is time for me to let go of old ideas and let a fresh new set of ideas be blown through the dusty channels of my mind. Do I really think God has only one spiritual experience to give? My previous ideas about God—what is good, what is normal, what I think I know—all must be pulled out and exposed to the light and fresh air of recovery!

— Edited and reprinted from The Northern Lights Newsletter, Anchorage Alaska Intergroup, May 2015

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