Early influences in my life led me to the conclusion, at a very early age, that the idea of God and the function of religion are as distinct as reason and emotion and that the path to God – whoever, whatever, he or she or it might be – was hidden from me, and probably hidden from everyone else too. This was to remain a real and unchallenged conclusion through which every religious overtone, for many years thereafter, would be filtered and ignored.
Thus begins the chronicles of my drug use and and alcoholism. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on one’s perspective, addiction is often both the necessary consequence of a life devoid of meaning and purpose, and the necessary impetus to take Step Three in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”
One may think my story is typical. That it is a story of conversion, rebirth and a life renewed in all forms of religious trappings. Not. My personal and even my political views on organized religion really haven’t changed all that much. If anything, my disdain for all things religious is still strong and my views, if expressed to Christians or even other religious zealots are received as vapid at best. But the chapter title is catchy….
One of the typical signs one finds in A.A. rooms around the globe says, “Expect a Miracle.” Over the early course of my recovery, I experienced many strange and powerful events that while fortuitous in some form or another, we’re both unlikely and wholly unexpected. I began to refer to these events, as the Chapter title implies, as Almighty Coincidences. This seemed particularly true as various books materialized and began to connect the dots as it were, providing a strong and lasting spiritual foundation for my life.
One of the most profound experiences of my life, one which can only be explained as an Almighty Coincidence, came about at a time of great emotional anguish. It is said that if a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it. I once allowed myself to become involved in just such a relationship. Although I desired the relationship to be made public, and had made it public in all areas of my life, the other person succumbed to tremendous pressure applied by her future ex-husband (from whom she had separated at the time), her parents, her children and her Church of Christ congregants to preserve her family and her religious affiliations (otherwise she was to be ex-communicated for cleaving from her lying and cheating husband). She broke down and made a clean breast of our entire affair in front of her congregation, and promptly thereafter, from the parking lot of the church, called and ended things with me.
I was driving back into town from somewhere, emotionally spent, in heavy traffic, and noticed an SUV in front of me with a license plate that referred to some scripture. I was not amused, and completely discounted the occurrence. The vehicle turned of the road I was on. Then, a few blocks later, it reappeared in front of me. How could this be – heavy traffic, SUV turns off, me still driving home, SUV reappears, once again, directly in front of me? I made a mental note of the scripture. I went home and read the scripture and it struck me as the final confirmation that I needed to at last feel certain there was a God. A few weeks later, that same vehicle once again appeared in front of me. Again? No way! Worse, I had gotten the scripture all wrong. It was Romans 8:28 being touted on the license plate. If I had read that passage instead, I may have read no further. But Romans 8:24? Well, that was altogether different.
And here, in our final chapter, I relate my past, and current, though evolving spiritual state of being. I’m no longer spiritually out of balance. My faith in a God of my understanding (a trick question I think) is quite sustaining. This chapter is not the end of my story, it is really the beginning. I explain how fear and faith are necessarily mutually exclusive states of mind. I explain why the notion of free will is an illusion. I explain how 18 years of continuous sobriety has not made me a a particularly better person, but has led me to understand that “Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s universe by chance.” I am still in recovery, but I don’t call it recovery: I call it discovery. Every moment I am here, I may cower in disbelief, or I may discover, through resolute faith, one moment at a time, God’s Will.