Many Forms

4 min read

I am an atheist with a spiritual life. I reconcile the spiritual side of OA by using the concept of acceptance and by not judging others. If I don’t know what’s good for me, then I don’t know what’s good for anyone. My best thinking— knowing it all and happy to share—got me to OA.

The concept of a guy named God with a plan does not work for me, but I am not the type of atheist who says you shouldn’t believe in God. I think you should do what works for you, including believing in whatever helps you abstain from compulsive eating. I have to do what works for me.

The idea of only one right way to think or believe, one true religion whether with no God or thirty gods, is black-and white thinking I have discarded. I think the universe has provided us with many forms of religion and spirituality because we need different things. Despite what some religious people say, we get to pick and choose.

I take my beliefs and practices from a variety of religious and nonreligious sources: feeling like part of a greater whole and going with the flow, from Taoism; believing a spark of God is in everyone, from the Quakers, and in everything, from physics; being in harmony, from the Navajo concept of walking in beauty; meditation, from Buddhism; happiness, from a favorite children’s book; and prayer, from the Third and Seventh Step prayers in Alcoholics Anonymous, a major spiritual work of the 20th century in my view.

I know I have had a spiritual awakening because as an OA friend put it, “The sun is still coming up in the morning, even though I am no longer pulling on the rope.” Life used to center around me, and if I didn’t pull on the rope, the sun probably would not have come up to my way of thinking.

Now my thinking is different. Life is much easier when I am not trying to run the show. I sponsor people who struggle with the concept of a Higher Power. I tell them to find what works for them. I also sponsor committed religious people. We don’t have to think alike to work the Steps together, any more than we have to be on the same plan of eating. Because I am working the Steps, I can learn from every experience. One thing I do know: I no longer know it all!

— P.M., High Springs, Florida USA

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