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The trade off seems as though it is written in black and white. When we do the twelve steps or come to have a relationship with a higher power of our own understanding through different means, we are making an agreement. We agree to believe in this spiritual entity and surrender to the magnificent power it has over our lives. We are willing to work diligently on sharpening our relationship with this higher power so that we may readily be able to discern between our own will and the higher power’s will. In the case of the 12 steps, as well as in many spiritual and religious doctrines, we conform our thoughts, actions, and behaviors to a certain set of beliefs, morals, and values. As a result, our relationship with our higher power is closer, our ability to receive love and guidance is heightened, and our lives are sure to be better.

Then, something terrible happens.

Our will, our belief, our security, and our trust, are suddenly gone when it comes to our higher power. Instantaneously, we revert back to the empty feeling of faithlessness, the doubt that there is anything greater than us, something or someone that could be in charge and working all things for good on some kind of incalculable plan. This could not be part of the plan. After all we’ve done, after all we’ve given, after all of the prayers, the meditations, the reading, and the discipline- bad things still happen? We lose our faith and wonder what we did to deserve this, as if that would be part of the transaction that we missed.

Spirituality is not immunity from life. Whether you call your higher power God of a specific religion, a deity of another discipline, the Creative Intelligence or generally refer to The Universe, your belief in that entity is not immunity from life. Recovery focuses on building the tools and resiliency necessary to live life on life’s terms. Unfortunately, life’s terms include bad things happening. Rather than ask ourselves why we deserve bad things to happen to us or why we have to deal with bad things happening to us, we place ourselves in the reality of life. Bad things happen. How we cope with them, process them, and bounce back from them is what defines our recovery- it is our ability to live life on life’s terms that helps us keep our faith, stay centered in our spirituality, and continue on our path of recovery.