The Gotta Have


One word carries a lot of power. Nations and economies have been built upon it. Wars have been based upon it. It has been relied upon, lost, gained, believed in and blamed.

One word. 5 letters.

“Faith”

I am a definition guy. I thought I knew what it really meant. I looked it up to be sure. I ended up with more questions than answers.

Dictionary.com defines the word with 3 definitions.

faith[ feyth ]
noun
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

So what this tells me is I need to have confidence or trust in a person ( a god), or thing ( teachings of religion i.e. the Bible), and believe in them even though they are not based on proof.

Huh?

I grew up as an occasional holiday church goer…..and that was forced.

My exposure or experience with religion came from Sunday morning TV, which I endured until cartoons came on.

I would watch these guys preach in front on thousands of people in the audience and millions worldwide about the teachings of God and the Bible in their expensive suits.

They would prance confidently about the stage, sweating and fervently relaying what the book was saying to them.

There would be cheers and “hallelujahs” and “amens” from the audience. Their faith would be strengthened.

A handful of these big name preachers were later ousted by sex scandals and misuse of church funds and the like.

My faith was weakened.

Yet, still, I would pray. Even though I didn’t know why. I would listen to people when they would speak of “God”, even though I couldn’t tell you why.

I wanted to believe….but why?

In my teens, my Dad got sober through the program of AA. He found a belief in a “higher power” and stayed connected.

My Dad was and still is my hero….faults and all.

He stayed sober until his death from cancer at 12 years sober. I blamed his higher power, and the morning he passed away I told his higher power what I thought-

“You allowed my Dad to be sober for years, get his life back, be the man he wanted to be for his family…and then take him away with this? How dare you! I am done with Gods. You leave me alone and I will leave you alone.”

That was more or less what I said.

The next 5 years were very dark for me.

Is it because I was faithless and angry?

I don’t know.

In 2006 I got out of jail and rehab and started over in a place I had never heard of and joined AA.

For the next 6 years I worked the program, got connected with a higher power, stayed sober and regained my faith.

I still don’t know what I believe my faith is in….but its something.

During my first few years of being in AA, I got the religion bug. I went to various churches of various faiths and tried to find where I fit in.

I went to the library and read various books on various faiths and religions to try to find some sense on why it worked for many for not for me.

I found a lot and disregarded a lot. There is so much information based on that 5 letter word that it was and is hard to get a handle on it.

My findings were that religion is not for me. I have tried honestly, dishonestly, forcingly and willingly to give it a go….and I just can’t.

AA taught me about believing in a “higher power”. That worked for me for a long time.

Until, once again, things started to happen that I couldn’t understand.

My bosses wife had 2 strokes. She was 24 years old, sober for roughly 3 years, mother to 2 small boys, going to school to be a nurse.

She is now 25, living in a nursing home.

How does this happen?

My wife at 8 years sober, works at a prison as a drug and alcohol counselor. Last October she had her life anonymously threatened by an inmate. He then threatened the lives of our family the next day.

Our lives have changed.

And faith is supposed to carry us through…..

I left AA a few months ago, but I had quit working the program long before that. Still sober.

Do I blame my leaving on God?

No.

I just can’t listen to people talk about faith when I see faithless things going on everyday.

I have to have confidence and trust that everything will work out the the way it should.

Even though I have no proof that it will.

That, it itself, defines faith.

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10 thoughts on “The Gotta Have

    • Thank you. I believe that any struggle that results in me going back to who I was means the struggle wasn’t worth the fight. Everything is worth it. Going back is not.

  1. Having faith in yourself is a good start, and it sounds like you have that. Having faith in nature and what is bound to happen, will, no matter what is another. Acceptance of this, which it sounds as though you have also, is definitely a step in the right direction. 🙂
    Nice post.

  2. This post really speaks to me. As a very satisfied customer of AA, i totally get what you’re saying. Fortunately, i got the religion bug way out of my system before i came into the rooms and was reassured when someone shared, “Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there.” My program is not a religious program, but it is a spiritual program.

    Meaning, i don’t necessarily believe in a specific Higher Power in a God Sense–for me the Rooms / Meetings are my Higher Power–but i have to believe in something outside of myself. As we say, “My own best thinking got me into the rooms,” which is to say when i try to control everything, i mess it up.

    That’s the core of my ‘faith’, that i don’t have control. Is there another entity that does? i’m not sure there’s a master plan with a benevolent man in robes and a beard calling the shots for the universe on a day-to-day basis. Personally, my spirituality more like what you wrote about in your most recent Shine story: i’m a kid wearing headphones to drown out the noise of my own, defective thoughts. What are my headphones plugged into? Nothing? i don’t know. But Faith, for me, is the belief in “It doesn’t matter what they’re plugged into, as long as i keep them on.”

    i was sorry to hear about your personal struggles, brother, and will keep you and your family in my thoughts with the hopes that things will get better for you.

    Keep the faith. 😉

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