HP’s Handiwork

“I have a whole lot of faith, but very few beliefs.” at is how I describe my relationship with my Higher Power. But this hasn’t always been the case. When I first came to OA, I had to make my start from just a willingness to believe. I came to the place I am now by “acting as if.”

My first program prayer was something like, “God, I don’t know if you’re there, but if you are . . . .” I don’t recall what I asked for, but I distinctly remember that prayer worked. So I tried it again and again, slowly growing into a concept of a Higher Power that “has my back.” Once I asked God to help me in a grocery store;

I was there late at night to buy coffee and was inundated with smells from the bakery. I said “God, help me; don’t even let me look at food the rest of the way through the store.” And that is exactly what happened. My eyes landed on cards and shirts and a variety of other nonfood items till I was safely out of the store.

I believe my faith has really grown by facing life abstinently. When I don’t pick up the food, I have to deal with emotional upheaval, and turning to God is a viable option. My divorce after thirty-four years of marriage was a case in point. The process was very slow-moving, and my ex and I were not always on the same page. It required a lot of waiting and trusting, and during this time I observed that HP was not particularly forthcoming with answers to my questions. So I learned to do what I could on any given day —even if that was nothing — and set the divorce aside. In the end, I felt such peace. It was then that I began to see faith as a walk in the dark, with just enough light to see the next step.

Today, my life is richer and fuller, mainly due to the partnership I have formed with God. I turn to him more and more, seeking guidance in most of my decisions. I know God’s way is always the best way, and if I can align my will with God’s, then things should work out. Being human, I still find myself acting on self- will, but I have learned to recognize those times by the lack of peace I feel. It may take me a while to let go, but eventually I get tired of doing things my way and let God take over.

When I was six months abstinent, I was so amazed at the miracles that had transpired in my life that I started using the phrase “Go God” to express my gratitude. Eventually, I even put it on my license plates. I still use this phrase today whenever I see HP’s handiwork somewhere. Thank you, HP—and Go God!

~ A.P.R.

A Big-Enough God

When I was new to recovery, I would call my sponsor and complain about circumstances and how hard it was to stay abstinent. My sponsor would suggest that I get a bigger God. It took me a while to really understand what she meant; I believed in God, but realized I wasn’t able to trust him. Through working the Steps, going to meetings, and talking to OA members, I learned to allow my HP to love me, just as I learned to love myself, and I did find a bigger God.

I set aside my old way of thinking of God for a new way of thinking: I now call my God “love.” This helped me get around the limitations and expectations of the God I was raised with. When I renamed him, my concept of God grew. True love has no limits, no judgements, no shame. When I pray, saying “love” instead of “God,” I feel a deep connection. It works for me. I love the fact that we all get to have our own concepts of a Higher Power, and I have never had a problem working with people of different faiths.

Currently, my husband and I are living in Delhi, India. There are few OA meet- ings here, so telephone meetings are my lifeline. I am blessed to have a new sponsee in this country. She shared with me her frustration with food and weight gain, so I shared about my OA recovery and abstinence. She asked me to sponsor her.

When I first told her about the Second and Third Steps, she said she could not do them, because she had lost faith in her God long ago. I said, “Let’s just start with Step One.” We worked through the Doctor’s Opinion (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. xxv–xxxii) and Step One in the literature, and then I had her listen to recorded meetings about Steps Two and Three. She realized she had been treating her HP as a Santa Claus — not the same as having faith. We had some very interesting conversations about God, so I learned a lot about her religion and its teachers. We didn’t have any conflicts in discussing our faith in our loving Higher Powers. We have plans to go to her temple together so she can do a ceremony there to turn her will and life over to the care of her God as she understands him.

I love the fact that we all get to have our own concepts of a Higher Power.

If you are struggling to nd a concept of a Higher Power, don’t give up. Listen to your heart. Listen to others. Spend time in nature. Be willing to go to any lengths to find your own Higher Power. We are told to be honest, open, and willing. When I did this, I found a Higher Power big enough to keep me abstinent, one day at a time.

~ Bonnie O., Gig Harbor, Washington USA

Fortune Telling

Who would have thought, when I entered my first OA meeting six months ago, that my life was going to change in every conceivable way? After almost forty years of yo-yo diets and spending most of my adult life on diet pills, I was about to discover my weight problem had nothing to do with willpower.

What an eye-opener that first beginner’s meeting was. There were ideas like “a compulsion of the brain and an allergy of the body” and “a plan of action.” Wow, my head was spinning with all this powerful, exciting information! I was trying to digest it all. OA had literature to read, sponsors to help, and Tools and Steps to work. Nonstop positive solutions could bring sanity into my life at long last.

Was I willing to go to any lengths to recover from being a food addict? You bet I was. From the very start I knew what my trigger foods were. My God gave me abstinence from my compulsion to overeat from that very first day, as he knows me better than I know myself. If I hadn’t jumped into our Fellowship with both feet from the get-go, I might not have stuck around. That was my rst miracle. It was not that I lost 40-plus pounds (18-plus kg); it was that I found the willingness to surrender not only specific foods and food behaviors, but also my self-will to my God.

I have found serenity in every facet of life. My relationships with my husband and adult children have never been healthier. I no longer feel the need to run everyone’s lives. I no longer merely hear, because I’ve learned to listen. Releasing all my old resentments was definitely the turning point in my recovery. That’s when OA became a way of life.

Seven months ago, if someone gave me a prediction that I would become a person who prays daily, is spiritually connected to God, and would experience miracles in all aspects of my life, I would have thought that person was the worst fortune-teller ever. But today I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams, one day at a time.

~ Ilene H., Centereach, New York USA

Sea to Sky Intergroup Update – June

Here is an update for June from your Sea to Sky Intergroup –

Check out the  June Newsletter for helpful information on creating an effective sponsorship relationship and thoughts on Step Two and hope. Still lots of retreats and events to consider attending for a boost to your recovery and fellowship. 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 June Meeting Directory is now available to help you find meetings throughout the month. Remember, if you can’t make it out to a meeting, there are loads of virtual meetings (telephone and on-line) and podcasts full of experience, strength & hope.  If you have changes/edits to the meeting directory, send an e-mail to seatoskymeetingdirectory@gmail.com

Questions about Sponsorship? World Service has a nine-part podcast series, “Sponsorship Success” featuring members from various regions sharing their experience, strength, and hope with using the Tool of sponsorship. Learn more about: What is a Sponsor? Why should I get a sponsor? Why be a sponsor? What is the “job description” for sponsorship? What are different sponsoring styles? And more. PLUS, download the Sponsorship Success questionnaire with thought-provoking questions for writing exercises, discussion, or meditation to complement each podcast. Find out more at https://oa.org/podcasts/

Use the new Uniting with Diversity trifold to strengthen unity in your group and service body. Download, copy, and share this new, free resource created by the Unity with Diversity Committee to support the strength and hope we find together in fellowship.

Person to Person – Carrying the Message is the topic for this virtual OA literature workshop. A member maintaining a 200+ pound weight loss shares her journey in recovery and how the OA literature, Steps, Traditions, Tools and a sponsor guide her recovery. She discusses sponsoring, the difference between a suggestion and advice, and how her sponsor’s suggestion to pray and has helped her with the dilemmas of life. To unselfishly share our experience, strength, and hope is the message of the pamphlet Person to Person: Carrying the Message, Our Special Gift. Listen to the podcast <here>.

Do you have 3-4 hours a month? Intergroup open service positions include: archivist, public information coordinator, marathons/retreats coordinator and 12 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, June 24, 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.

God Shows Up

While I was raised with a concept of God, I used to wonder how God could exist in the chaos and fat that surrounded my life. I must have been cursed!

I am thankful God knew better than I did. Over and over, it was as if he were saying, “It’s okay, honey. I’m here for you when you are ready.” While I was busy not believing in him and running the show, he sent me bright green flashing arrows guiding me to different people, places, and things. He guided me right into these rooms. By working the Steps, I became convinced that, as the Big Book says, “God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough” (Alcoholics Anony- mous, 4th ed., p. 12). I wanted him!

God shows up for me quite often, especially when I show up for myself. When I had been in program almost six months and was in the middle of my Fourth Step, I decided to go to an OA women’s retreat. The women I met blew me away with their knowledge, support, and love. Again my eyes were opened.

On my way home, I stopped to grab my abstinent lunch and decided to pull into a park that overlooked the ocean. I sat on one of the benches along the edge of the cliff. On the bench was a memo-rial plaque with a man’s name and his birth and death dates, with the inscription “Happy, Joyous & Free.” I sat frozen and crying. Not only were the words from the Big Book staring me in the face, but he and I were almost the same age, 26.

It became clear that God was telling me I was where I was supposed to be and I was going to be okay. I wish I had known that man and his story, but I took comfort in him. The bench reminded me I am here for a reason. I am in this program to thrive, not just survive.

I went back to the same spot after my second women’s retreat. This time the bench had been carved and the plaque didn’t stand out as it once had, but when I looked around, the people, places, and things were vibrant, matching the life I now have in program.

Today I am 96 pounds (44 kg) down from my top weight, imperfectly reaching out to others instead of isolating with my food. I have an intimate relationship with my Higher Power, and I have even come to appreciate the religion of my child- hood. All of that, to me, shows my Higher Power working in my life. My old idea about God not being there for me could not have been further from the truth.

I thank God every day for keeping me here and letting me know I am always right where I am supposed to be.

~ Krista S., Los Angeles, California USA

Step Two and Hope

Hope. When we come to OA we see that despite the failures in our lives – the broken promises, hard feelings, failures, disappointments, destructive behaviours, self-hatred, anxiety, depression or guilt – there is still hope.

Hope is the spiritual principle that supports Step 2 (“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”). It is a big step towards the God of our understanding. In Step 2, we begin to realize that such a Higher Power exists. We begin to have hope this Power can set us on the road to recovery and freedom.

Many of us have struggled when we first came to OA (and some of us since) with the idea of a Higher Power. Surely if there is such a God, we knew nothing of Him/Her/It. Have we not suffered alone in our compulsions? Where was God then? In our darkest days, one thing most of us lacked was any relationship with a Higher Power, let alone a working relationship. Most of us had no trouble admitting that food addiction had become a destructive force in our lives. Our own best efforts resulted in ever greater destruction and despair. At some point, we realized we needed more help.

As we continue our journey to recovery through the Twelve Steps, we take Step 2 by simply admitting to the possibility of a Power greater than ourselves. The Step 2 phrase “came to believe” suggests a process and a progression of faith that evolves over time.

In A.A.’s oral tradition this is defined as a three-part unfolding: first, we came, that is, we showed up and stumbled through the meeting room’s door. Then, we came to, that is, we came to our senses and began to experience emotional sobriety. And third, we came to believe. We began our real recovery process and our spiritual growth.

Through believing that a Higher Power can help, a person formerly eaten up with raging fear, anger, shame, doubt, guilt, and frustration becomes calm. We begin to grow spiritually by focusing on some simple steps, going to meetings, reading the Big Book and other OA literature, and talking to a sponsor.

We discover we are not alone; there are other caring OAs who understand because they are dealing with the same problems we have! The simple belief that a Higher Power can restore us to sanity leads us into the OA family.

In OA, we learn we can trust others with our deepest shame, we are lovable and we must take care of ourselves. As we gain friends who can help us get through and then even enjoy most days, we start to feel we can trust ourselves again. Hope for the future starts to bloom. We can start to see a new life is possible, as we trudge the Road of Happy Destiny!

~ Jennifer S with thanks to 12step.org



Always a Beginner

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over food – that our lives had become unmanageable.

When I came into OA, I met a long-timer I particularly admired. She was slender and energetic. She shared wisdom and love with everyone in the rooms and had an irresistible sparkle about her.

When we passed around the phone list, though, she did something that confused me. In the “Comments” column, she wrote, “Always a beginner!” Why on earth, I wondered, would she claim to be a beginner when she clearly had it all together?

Now, ten years later, I think I understand. We never have it all together in OA. We are always powerless over food and this disease. I can never control it, and I can never manage my life, at least not by myself. The best thing I can do for my recovery is to keep being teachable and follow instructions, like a beginner.

From the example of this member and others, from working the Steps, and from using all the Tools, I’ve learned that a beginner’s attitude as expressed in Step One is a very good place to be. When I remember I am powerless over pretty much everything except my own response in this moment, I can stay abstinent. Here’s how I use Step One every day:

  • Every morning when I wake up, before I even open my eyes, I pray Steps One, Two, and three to remind myself of my true relationship to life and my HP.
  • When something doesn’t go my way or when life hurts, I remember I’m powerless over it. I am not supposed to control it, so I don’t need to be frustrated or disappointed when I can’t.
  • I ask for help and support from anyone at a meeting, no matter how long or short their time in program.
  • In OA, I’ve walked through drastic changes in household income, going back to work after twenty years, raising kids, my father’s dementia and death, and kids moving out—all abstinently— by remembering I am powerless.
  • As I write this, my elderly Labrador seems to be dying—he hasn’t eaten in days. Since I’m powerless over this, instead of trying to force him to eat, I am doing what I can to make him comfortable. He is peaceful, and I get to feel my sadness and grief without eating over it.

When we pass around the phone list at a meeting, I often write the same thing as that longtimer did, because it works for me:

I am “always a beginner.”

~ Joan P., Mountain View, California USA