As We Understood Him

Before my second time around in OA, the God of my life was vengeful, punishing, unloving, and terrible. God demanded that my parents abuse me verbally, physically, and emotionally through beliefs such as “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

When I first came to OA, God was a huge stumbling block for me. OA is a spiritual program, but all I heard was the word “God” and not what followed, “as we understood Him.” It took almost two years of reading OA and AA literature, not going to meetings, and relapsing into overeating before I finally heard and understood those words.

My Higher Power today is forgiving, loving, kind, and gentle. I describe my Higher Power as mother earth, father sky, and nature, in all their beautiful wonder and awesomeness. I now have a deeper understanding of my own spiritual side as well as OA’s spiritual program.

I returned to the OA rooms after a two-year absence that included a long relapse with a weight gain of over 50 pounds (23 kg). Now I have been abstinent since October 2012 with my Higher Power’s help.

Thank you, Higher Power and the Fellowship of OA, for being patient and there for me always.

— Chris L., Bloomington, Minnesota USA

Fallen Star

I was the self-appointed poster child for OA: I had physical recovery, I performed a lot of service, and I had several sponsees. My phone rang day and night. I was asked to speak at marathons and retreats. I wasn’t anonymous, and I didn’t want to be anonymous – I was a star.

I was lacking in self-esteem, and OA offered a platform where I could succeed and show my worth. When I attained a normal body weight and performed more than my fair share of service, recognition came my way. People looked up to me! I was finally perched on a higher rung of that imaginary ladder of worth. Self- righteousness only strengthened my grip.

Members began to look my way whenever a service position needed to be filled. By then, my life was full to bursting with service, family, work, and the fixer-upper home I’d purchased.

Then at one business meeting, a question hung in the air, needing an opinion. I always had at least three opinions on the same issue, but this time I didn’t oer any of them – I leaned back in my chair and remained silent, letting someone else take the lead. It was the start of humility.

Building a persona at meetings takes a lot of energy. I imagined myself better than others because that was the only way I felt good enough. Imagine the effort it took to keep up such a sick standard! How you continued to love me defies all reason, but you did.

When the inevitable fall came, I tossed away my abstinence and sank into a three-year, 70-pound (32-kg) relapse. I continued to come to meetings, fearing what would happen if I didn’t. My shame must have been palpable to others in the group, and it took every last shred of courage to show up. Ironically, the only member who ever sneered at my relapse was the other “star” in the group. The rest of you loved me through it.

When I see other OA members repeating my mistakes, I appreciate their willingness to give, and I hope they learn balance before they fizzle out and fall away from our Fellowship, unable to sustain endless service commitments and perfect back-to-back abstinence. I am aware that some members (the “experts”) want to influence decision-making based on the length of their membership. I only know because I did that too.

We can only love the stars blazing in our meetings, make our own decisions, and keep our “expertise” to ourselves. We all have one voice and one vote, and none is more substantial than another. We are all trusted servants, not self-appointed leaders. I’m grateful that OA taught me the difference.

— Cynthia W., Wickenburg, Arizona USA

Sea to Sky Intergroup Update – August

Happy BC Day!  Here is an update from your Sea to Sky Intergroup for August –

Check out the  August Newsletter for all the latest information about upcoming events and workshops plus two great feature stories on Step Study Groups and Sponsorship. Feel free to print extra copies for your meeting or share by e-mail. Submissions for the June newsletter can be sent to seatoskynews@gmail.com.

The August Meeting Directory is now available to help you find meetings throughout the month. Are you starting a Step Study Group soon? Please let your newsletter editor know by e-mail so we can put the details in the newsletter We are getting inquiries from people looking to join a study group!

Out-of-towner looking for OA fellowship – Gitte will be visiting Vancouver and Vancouver Island from Denmark starting on August 7th and is looking for OA people who are interested in spending some time together after meetings or to contact in case of “emergency”. If you are interested in connecting with Gitte, e-mail oaseatosky@gmail.com and we’ll put you in touch.

The North Vancouver meeting is planning a workshop exploring the OA definition of abstinence and how to work your program to maximize your abstinence over time. It will likely be in September. Please contact Jennifer if you are interested.

Shaughnessy Group members are planning a Step Study Group for mid-September startup based on the new (green) step study guide. No exact details yet. If interested, email rspersonal@rsctele.com for more information.

The Intergroup Sponsorship Committee is hosting a workshop on September 23rd from 1pm to 4pm at Ladner United Church (4960 48th Avenue, Ladner, BC). For more details, please contact Calen.

The Seattle OA Region One Convention “Best Value” deadline is August 15th! If you register online or your mail-in registration is postmarked by August 15th, Convention registration & banquet is $150 US/$197 CDN. After August 15th, convention registration & banquet goes up to $165 US/$217 CDNReserve your room(s) at the DoubleTree Inn and Suites. The room block is 2/3 full so don’t wait too long! Click here for hotel information.

Do you have 3-4 hours a month? Intergroup open service positions include: vice-chair, marathon & retreats coordinator, and 12th step within coordinator. All OA members are welcome at Intergroup meetings. Join us! Check out the position descriptions and feel free to attend the next Intergroup Meeting on Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 10 am (1630 Edinburgh Street in New Westminster). All are welcome.

Responsibility Pledge
Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.

Honest-to-Goodness

I love reading and learning about the Steps and Traditions through our Twelve and Twelve literature (I am brand-new to any Twelve Step program). When I read Step Five for the first time, this sentence really stood out for me: “Honesty is a key factor in our recovery from compulsive eating, and so we will want to develop this trait” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, p. 51).

To fully understand that honesty is a key factor in recovery and something that I need to develop, I need to look at my past to see both when I was honest and when I was dishonest. I am amazed when I think about just how much I lied — to myself, to my Higher Power, and to those around me.

For today, I am learning how to react to current situations in a mature, honest way. Self-honesty has opened a new door in my life. It has given me relief from anger, resentment, and other emotions that were completely in my head.

At work, I used to lie to potential customers about why I did not finish their proposals, hoping they would relieve me of the trouble I would be in for being late. I did it again and again and again. If I had just told the truth about why I was late, they would have had more respect for me and understood me a little better. Then I would not have had the internal guilt and shame that led me to binge again and again and again. Let’s face it … addicts are the world’s best liars. We have been doing it for so long that we should be considered professionals.

Sure, I can be honest about what I ate today, but to be completely honest in everything I do and say is a tad bit scary. I am not used to living this way. I do not even know how to do this yet. Honesty is a new experience I embrace with an open mind every day. Since beginning in OA, I have found that the more honest I am – with myself, my Higher Power, and others — the better I feel and the happier I become.

It has been difficult, but the times I have spoken honestly, I have felt extreme relief. If I use the Tools laid out for me, I can succeed.

Keep coming back. It works when you work it, and you are worth it — so work it!

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Area Inter- group, May 2016

God on Board

About three years after I became abstinent, I was driving to a meeting when I felt the presence of God in my car. Peacefulness and calm came over me. It seemed as though God was guiding my driving, there in the car with me. I shared in the meeting about this experience, and someone whom I considered very spiritual asked me to sponsor her that day. (Later, I learned it was because of my share.) This image of having God in the car has stayed with me, and not only is my life saner, but my driving is saner as well.

I feel God’s presence throughout the day when I begin with prayer and meditation. I journal, often writing a letter to God, and read several daily meditation books. I have a box of more than one hundred prayers on little squares of paper which I divide into seven stacks, one stack per day. I read them slowly and concentrate on a few. I also have a variety of meditation practices and even a meditation app on my phone. During the day, whenever I have a few minutes of free time, I listen to guided meditations.

They take me to peaceful places — beautiful beaches, desert oases, mountains, or lush green valleys. I visualize myself being there, calm and relaxed.

For my first twenty-two years in program, I did not have a personal God. I knew it was the solution I was missing because I worked the Steps and used the Tools, but long-term recovery still eluded me. In 2002, I became abstinent when I made a spiritual connection and developed my own concept of God. It wasn’t the religious God my son and his family worship, so I still struggle with my God being good enough or authentic enough. But with my God’s help, I feel more comfortable and accepting with every passing day. I believe God is within each of us; I can look for him in each person as well as in nature and the universe. God is infinity. I know he is on my side, cheering for me, wanting me to live happy, joyous, and free. Having my God has made my life more meaningful and purposeful.

We all have our own idea of God, and I am not offended by anyone else’s. What works for me may not be right for you. Just as our food plans, triggers, and behaviors are all different, so too are our Higher Powers.

Thanks to my God, I have sanity around food today. I am maintaining a weight loss of 90 to 100 pounds (41 to 45 kg), and I have been at a healthy body weight for fourteen years.

I became abstinent when I made a spiritual connection and developed my own concept of God.

My life is beyond my wildest dreams when I am spiritually connected. I am forever thankful to our program for urging me to form a loving, vibrant, and enduring relationship with God.

~ Roberta L.

Practice Prayer

When I came into OA, I desperately needed to lose weight and gain sanity. All my life, I had made lists and plans and schemes. I was the queen of to-do lists and loved checking them off. But no matter how much I accomplished in my career and in other areas of my life and no matter how expert I became through self-help books and courses, I could never consistently check o my “be healthy” list. I felt helpless. What was I doing wrong?

At first, I looked at OA as a diet club. I went to meetings to lose weight, so I mostly paid attention to how people ate and ignored the God talk. But the more I watched people, the more I realized I wanted what they had. I wanted sanity and serenity in life.

My sponsor encouraged me to try prayer. I had heard of its benefits. I began practicing prayer in my car. On my way to work, I would turn off the radio and just start talking to the windshield. I didn’t know to whom I was speaking or even what would happen, but I kept practicing.

I can’t say there was a magical moment when I realized that prayer was changing me, but I kept doing it.

I realized that a kind of peace was coming over my life, and I liked it and wanted more of it. I was also grateful to have someone to talk to about things I did not talk about to anyone else. My secret feelings all found a place to be heard. It was inspiring to begin to think that maybe I didn’t have to gure everything out on my own, that maybe God would help me.

Prayer became a practice for me. I wasn’t perfect. I went through seasons of not praying at all, but God continued to pursue me once I opened that door, and I kept coming back. After several years, I landed in a group that was just right for me. Their unconditional love taught me more about my Higher Power and how much I was loved, no matter what. I was transformed by going to the rooms of OA and practicing prayer.

I am now six years into OA and two- and-a-half years into recovery. I can spend hours with God when I need to feel love or make a big decision. It is so inspiring and healing. I do this by reading inspirational material, listening to music, taking walks in the woods, and even praying with friends! Answers and ful llment always come. I don’t need to make lists or become an expert today. God helps me do the right things.

Today I continue to practice prayer and meditation. Meditation is a bit more chal- lenging for me, but when I do practice it, I feel so much better. I have learned through my OA experience that prac- tice, not perfection, is the key to making change. For today, I’ll keep on practicing.

~ Sera S.

Eager to Grow

keys

My experience of finding my Higher Power is not like finding buried treasure with a map; finding my Higher Power is much more of a process and a journey. It’s more like finding my balance when learning how to walk, or finding my strength when I first begin to exercise.

In the beginning, I was so angry at the idea of God that I complained about the religious language in the Big Book. “Thee” and “Thou” seemed insulting to me, and all that talk about God and a Higher Power was off-putting. However, I did have a map of sorts (the Big Book) and some very important guides (sponsors) along the way.

I tried different ways to help myself find a Higher Power. I wrote a want ad, I wrote down all the characteristics I want in a Higher Power, and I talked with others about how they found theirs. But, two particular things I tried helped me most.

First, I “acted as if,” by following suggestions and the spiritual Principles of the program. I started to rely on the idea that if I do the next right thing, even when I’m scared, things will turn out all right. Now, they often do go the way I want, and I am taken care of.

Second, I found my Higher Power by spending time with him/her by meditating, taking quiet walks, humbly asking in prayer that I may see and feel this presence, and being open to the experience.

Shortly after getting abstinent, I rode on a roller coaster. I have always been afraid of roller coasters and am usually the person holding on with a death grip, eyes closed in the camera portraits. This time, I sincerely prayed for God’s help. After the scary and thrilling ride, I saw a photo of a smiling and happy person, and a picture is worth a thousand words.

In my fear, I talked with a God I barely knew. I asked for help and was brought a sense of peace. I am so very grateful for the relationship I have now with my Higher Power, and I’m eager to grow this relationship in the future.

~ J.C.