A Study of Step 2

The 12 Steps of A.A. and Al-Anon

Chairs in a circle
Step 2 Is About Having Some Faith. © Getty Images

Many who suffer from the family disease of alcoholism find hope again once they place their faith in a power greater than themselves.

Step 2
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Many members of Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon Family Groups come into the program with a strong faith in God, and with the encouragement of other members of the fellowship soon learn to apply that faith to the situations in their lives created by alcoholism.

With the wisdom provided by the program, the friendship and support of other members, the healing process begins with the help of a loving God, as they understand him.

Others who are introduced to the twelve-step programs are agnostics or atheists, who reject the concept of a deity. Many are turned off by even the mention of the word "God" and some bristle at even hints of anything spiritual.

But, as it says in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, in the chapter entitled We Agnostics, "we beg you to lay aside prejudice..." and give the program a chance.

The twelve-step programs are spiritual not religious -- there is no mention of religious beliefs, doctrine, or dogma - in the meetings or in the approved literature. Members are not required to accept someone else's concept of God, only to trust that there is a power "greater than themselves" however they wish to describe it or understand it.

It seems to be a spiritual truth, that before a higher power can begin to operate, one must first believe that it can.

You have to believe it, to receive it. Millions of program members through the years, who finally "came to believe" have found themselves amazed to find that power at work in their lives in miraculous ways.

Visitors to this site who are members of various 12-step groups, have shared their experience, strength and hope on each of the steps.

Here are some of their stories:

Step 2: New Way of Living

Step 2, for me, was a return to God. My childhood was spent in a religious home and one without drinking. My family attended church services, prayed, read the Bible, sang in the choir, taught Sunday school. My Dad was a lay minister; my Mom the musical director.

And their two children became drunks!

When I first attempted sobriety, I became active once more in church -- and got drunk again. Slowly I found that the God in my religion has a special face he shows only to drunks. And I found Him in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is there, shining, waiting for us to ask for his help. Faith is the foundation of my AA life.

Oh yes, my brother now has 15+ years in AA. And my date of sobriety is 4-25-89. We are not only restored to sanity by His grace, we are shown a grand new way of living.


Came, Came To, Came to Believe

As I look back at the beginning of my Sobriety I can plainly see how I took Step 2 piece by piece.

First, I came to AA -- beaten, bankrupt in all areas of my life, and not knowing how I got to that point.

Then I came to after about 3 months of 2 meetings a day and 3 on Sunday, if I hurried, and counseling with an alcoholic counselor who was a PHD and in recovery herself.

I came to believe that the people of AA really knew what they were talking about (and it wasn't me).

I had sought a Higher Power ever since I was knee-high to a grass hopper so I had no problem with that, except I discovered I didn't believe Him/Her/It. Then I came to believe a higher power.

I had been terrified for a long time that I truly was insane and would be locked up at any time, so you can imagine my relief when I found that this Higher Power that I had always called God, for lack of another name, could restore me to sanity. It wasn't until Step 4 that I saw that my insanity was in my drinking alcohol believing that with each new episode "it would be different".

Today I can say I have been restored to Sanity. Not by myself, only through God as we understand it and all the "eskimos" of Alcoholics Anonymous who spent hours sharing their Love, Experience, Strengths, and Hopes.


A Message In a Pamphlet

I paced the floor in my apartment for several hours, not able to sit down and relax. As I paced amidst the piles of newspapers and the layers of cat fur on the carpet (my apartment had not been cleaned for four months, and I had three cats, so clumps of fur were accumulating on my socks), I kept noticing an unusual pamphlet sticking out from a stack of newspapers.

I kept pacing, and now I estimate that it was about five hours of pacing back and forth. Finally I pulled the pamphlet out from the stack. It was titled "This is AA", a pamphlet I had picked up six months before during a search for an old girl friend in the rooms of AA. I read the pamphlet and said to myself "These people know what they're talking about, don't they?"

I called one of the major clubs in my area, and went to a meeting that night. But it was obvious to me that I had turned to God first, and then took Step 1. I knew that my life was insane and I knew there was a power greater than myself, but until that moment, I had always resented God for butting in where He wasn't wanted. Now I wanted Him, and sure enough, He led me to where I needed to be.


A Christian's View

When I first came into Al-Anon, I already had a personal relationship with the God of my understanding. I was a Christian. My God had a name: it was Jesus.

All this talk of a "higher power" rather than "God" caused me some problems. And when I heard people say that the group was their higher power --or it was okay to use a doorknob for a higher power if that's how you understood it --I found that hard to accept. And to be honest, some of that kind of talk offended me.

At my first meeting, after reading some of the literature, I made the comment that I had a problem with the "higher power" references. After that meeting, a long-time member came up to me and said. "I'm not saying to forget your religious beliefs, but just put them on hold for a while and give Al-Anon a chance!"

There was great wisdom what she told me. And if she had not taken the time to tell me that, I proably would have never come back and it would have been ME who missed out on so much that God had in store for me.

All the wisdom, help, friendship, encouragement, and spiritual growth that I have found in Al-Anon, I would have missed because of my own religious prejudices.

So, my suggestion to newcomers is the same that I received: put your religious beliefs, or unbelief on hold and give the whole program a chance. Because Al-Anon is not a religious program, but a spiritual one!


Index of 12 Steps and Traditions Study

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