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Perseverance, Even When

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When I got into program, I weighed about 240 pounds (109 kg), well over my target weight of 190 pounds (86 kg). I was bingeing and drinking too much alcohol, plus I was mildly depressed. I thought my spiritual life was okay, but really it was a cycle of small peaks and deep valleys. I’d get some abstinence, but then lose it, and this went on for about four years. I’m glad I kept at it, though, because I finally got a good run of abstinence forty days ago, and it has everything to do with the spiritual Principle of Step Ten: perseverance.

In the past, I had “mountaintop” spiritual experiences in recovery, during which I felt loved by my Higher Power, tender and compassionate—a deep, warm connection with my HP. When these exhilarating moments passed, in minutes, hours, days, or occasionally weeks, my willingness to stick to the program and do the footwork weakened.

Then I heard someone make a distinction between two concepts: the HP of our experience versus the experience of our HP. This means that, while my incredible moments of closeness to God—these wonderful experiences—may not be enduring, the HP I experience during these moments is enduring. I learned that I need to give up trying to relive the thrill of experiencing my HP and instead focus on seeking the HP I had experienced.

This distinction might seem too subtle to matter, but it is making a difference in my recovery. My HP is there, at spiritual high tide and low tide, whether my soul looks up and sees a foggy, gray sky or a brilliant sky of blue. Doing my HP’s will is the key, not trying to recapture the exultation I sometimes feel with my HP. Being spiritually fit, to me, means seeking my HP through prayer and meditation while realizing that a warm sense of God’s nearness is probably not going to wash over me every minute of every day.

Perseverance in prayer and meditation, even when I’m not “feeling it,” is working for me. Focusing on the HP of my experience, not on the experience of my HP, is helping.

— David P., Mill Valley, California USA

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