Is it tacky to name drop?
It was one of those days when the unexpected happened. Due to a chance meeting I found myself sitting in a restaurant next to a very famous gentleman who is a two time Grammy winner, a song writer, movie actor, guest on the Tonight Show 48 times, a published author, the list goes on and on. He was keeping the table entertained with stories of his current projects, life adventures and his fellow Hollywood friends. After a while the conversation naturally turned to recovery and spirituality since he has 20 plus years of sobriety and the subject of prayer came up. The famous gentleman shared with the group the prayer he prays every morning and has done so for years—“God surprise me today. Lead me where you need me.”
At this point I need to pause and explain that when I got sober I was one of those people who come into “the rooms” full of vehement hostility against God, religion and I even bristled with antagonism at the generic phrase “higher power.” After 11 months into “sobriety” and refusing to address my resentments and outright hatred towards God, I was in a free fall towards relapse. All I had been doing for 11 months was sitting in 12 Step meetings—I had zero recovery, no spiritual awaking and nothing that could be described as anything close to a psychic change. I was beyond miserable. I had come to a place where I could not imagine life with alcohol, but I also could not imagine continuing to live in my current daily hell of life without alcohol. I was at the end of my rope where returning to drinking or suicide appeared to be viable options. In the middle of this internal warfare a series of events occurred and I ended up relocating to a different city, which is where I was thrust into a hardcore recovery community and introduced to a person who then became my sponsor. This sponsor saw my spiritual bankrupt state and the danger I was in and aggressively set to work guiding me towards the spiritual solution contained within the 12 Steps. I finally had to find, face and resolve all my old ideas, fears and prejudices surrounding this whole Higher Power thing—in fits and spurts I became willing to be wrong and in doing so I found freedom.
Fast forward three years to the table at the restaurant; as the full impact of the celebrity’s prayer sunk in I was completely flabbergasted. I turned in my chair and looked at him in horror. I am sure that my alarm was evident on my face as I asked him, “Oh my god, isn’t that a terrifying prayer to pray?” He turned his head my way and with a piercing gaze looked right past my eyes into my heart. Without skipping a beat he responded in a voice palpable with love and compassion, “oh no sweetie. God only wants your highest good.”
Simple words capturing maybe six seconds, but to me a significant spiritual experience. I felt like a baseball bat slammed into my chest and I was knocked back in my chair. No one was aware of the impact his words had on me and the conversation at the table continued buzzing around me. After all my Step work, after 4 years of sobriety, after thinking I had the “higher power” thing down I had a moment of clarity—I was absolutely terrified of God. It also occurred to me that it is not possible to willingly turn my life over to a power that I distrusted and feared. To entrust my very life to a power that deep down I firmly believed was not “out to care” for me but rather “out to get me” would be the very definition of insanity. Thus began a timid yet exploratory relationship which has actually continued to grow for the past year.
It may be tacky to “name drop” but in the least likely of times, in the least likely of places and from the least likely of people (my famous friend), I met—God.
A blessed mystery
For sweeter souls did not survive
But if you’re lucky, when it’s done
Somewhere deep inside
The dreamer’s still alive – Paul Williams