There’s no point in addressing a problem if you don’t have a solution. But before you even dive into the solution, there’s a force that drives you there- hope. Hope is the fuel to the fire of recovery. The second you lose hope, the solution doesn’t matter anymore because “it’ll never work for me”, “I don’t deserve another chance”, “I’m too sick to get better”, “…but I’m so much worse off than they are”. In A.A., we derive our hope from Step 2. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (Alcoholics Anonymous).
A Reason to Believe
The beauty of Step 2 is that it pulls us out of our misery, even if only for a second, and makes us ask the question, “Is recovery possible?”. Some may argue that it sounds too much like magic, that some Power (God) bringing us back from the brink of insanity simply by the work of his power is unbelievable. But if you’ve ever sat in the depths of hell, battling mental illness or addiction, you know “magic” is the only thing that is going to fix the broken person living inside of you- you’ve tried every other option.
Belief still leaves room for doubt though. Some people come to the rooms of A.A. without ever believing in God or have a very negative, distorted view of him. And the best thing about Step 2 is that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that everything has to be perfect for this “magic” to work either. All the process requires is to entertain the idea that there could be a loving God who has the ability “to restore us to sanity”. That’s it.
At this stage in the game, it really doesn’t matter if you believe it with 100% of your heart or 10%. Obviously, the more belief you have the better, but it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed if you can’t believe it 100% this very second. We’ve all gone through various hard times in our lives that cause us to doubt God or question his love. I would argue even more so for those of us with mental illness or addiction issues. God meets us where we are on our journey. We have to be open to the idea of his existence, but we’re not in charge of all the work.
The Power of Faith
There is mystery surrounding faith. Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20-21). Likewise, when you open up your heart, things that were once impossible become possible. You will find that once you first allow yourself to believe, even if it’s just a small sliver of your heart, it will begin to grow, and God will begin to work in your life. A time will come when you realize your whole heart now believes, and you’ll be baffled on how it got there.
It is true that you have to have some kind of desire to quit drinking or using to recover, but it doesn’t take much. Miracles do happen inside the walls of A.A., but you must at least entertain the idea of Step 2 in order to see them happen. When I got sober, I had just turned 21 years old. Alcohol was already causing chaos in my life, but I still struggled with the desire to drink. How am I ever going to quit so young? How am I going to have any kind of a social life without drinking? I had somewhat of a desire to quit, but still had a part of me that wanted to wait until I was in my late 20s or early 30s to do so. But I knew I may not get that chance at the rate I was deteriorating. I really just had to push forward regardless of how I felt, but I was still torn about my decision for the first six months or so. And one day I found that the desire to drink was no where to be found. It wasn’t anything I had done. It was simply the effects of taking Step 2. God’s grace had been working everyday inside of me and now the hope of recovery was much stronger than my desire to drink.
A New Vision
One of the most powerful aspects of Step 2 works by taking our focus off ourselves. We usually don’t spend much thought on the idea of recovery until we’ve tried everything under the sun to control our drinking or using. You’d think that after years (decades for some of us) failing to recover by our own power, pride would no longer exist. But pride is one of our strongest character defects, as least it is for me. Step 2 begins to counteract that pride and lets us know that recovery is possible, but not by our power. We still have to be open and put in the work that recovery requires, but we can’t change our insides- that’s God’s job. That admission or discovery shrinks our pride down to a manageable level and gives us the ability to recognize that we’re not in control. Pride is the greatest enemy of recovery and Step 2 begins the process of battling it.
More than anything though, Step 2 should be a source of great news and joy. Step 1 diagnoses the severity of our condition. Step 2 tell us that our once fatal illness now has a treatment option. I think few of us really appreciate this. If you had terminal cancer, lying on your death bed, and the doctor bursts through the door and announces that they just discovered a treatment option, wouldn’t that completely fill you with gratitude and completely change your perspective? Why is it any different in recovery? That hope should propel us forward and give us comfort during the “surgery” that needs to be performed on our bodies and minds to release us from the terminal bonds of addiction.