“Get a God,” I hear repeatedly in the rooms of A.A. “If you don’t get God… You’re wrecked. Your own ‘best thinking’ got you here, so you’d better get God and follow directions.” I’m told my God can be anything, anything at all with power higher than my own—“hell, even a doorknob,” an old-timer smirks, only half-joking. (After all, the doorknob clearly comports itself with greater sense than I do in my addiction!) As newcomers, we set about scrambling to “get a God”—it’s a life-and-death mission, and few of us (regardless of the doorknob’s indisputably superior sense) are willing to entrust the endeavor to a hunk of hardware. So having eliminated Home Depot as an option, where does one get a God?
I imagine a God-shop opening at the mall, where I could consult a knowledgeable salesman about the available features of the various Gods on the market, accessories (protective case for the pocket-God, color choices, belt-clip, charger) and downloadable apps. I’d be looking for a God-plan with unlimited messaging, a planner, an e-reader, an indestructible case (or maybe two—one in turquoise to match my favorite shoes, and the rugged outdoor model for travel). The GPS feature would respond automatically to the phrase “Where the hell am I?” with geographical as well as metaphysical directions. My unit wouldn’t have a “mute” or a “power off” button (I wouldn’t use those wisely), it never needs charging, and never loses its signal.
Abraham (you know Abraham—the fought-over Father of Bible, Torah, and Koran) grew up in just such a shop, courtesy of his father the Babylonian idol-maker. Mischievous Abraham told his mother one afternoon that the idols were hungry, then returned to tell her they didn’t like her cooking. After smashing all but the largest idol, he left his axe in the hand of the remaining figure and told his father the largest idol had slain the others when they reached for their share of the luncheon. His parents protested that these gods couldn’t talk, eat, or move, so Abraham challenged them: “Do your ears hear what your mouths are saying?” And Abraham himself left the culture of packed-around static household deities to find a truly portable God, one not tied to the geopolitical boundaries of his father’s teraphim—a dynamic God who could speak with him, and be everywhere with him.
As much as a tangible pocket-God appeals to my concrete mind, the intangible God is more accessible, and less limited. A doorknob may indeed serve as a starter-God, particularly if I choose the doorknob of an A.A. room. (The one message that doorknob delivers—“Enter!”—is, after all, a useful one.) But eventually I’ll need more direction than that. “Okay, I’m here… Now what?”
Finding God turned out to be much simpler than anything I’d tried to plot. (My Sponsor says she has a Great Forgetter between her ears; I’m realizing I have a Great Complicator between mine.) On my Sponsor’s insistence, I loosened my grip on the doorknob (I had to—I was blocking the door!) and put my Planner on pause. Imagining my life as a kitchen, I relinquished the recipe-rolodex, shopping lists, meal plans, and the heavy pipe-wrench I’d been forcibly applying to every aspect of my life (and which had not, to that point, struck me as an inappropriate kitchen tool)… No, let me be more honest: I didn’t set those things aside—my Sponsor confiscated them, and then pointed me to a quiet kitchen chair and commanded me to sit still. “Just wait, Honey. Just listen.” Minus my usual kitchen weapons, I sat still in my own mind. Not easy for me, but simple. As I spun recipes in my head, I began to pay attention when ingredients didn’t feel right—which gradually translated to “God would prefer I didn’t.” When groceries appeared that I hadn’t expected or planned for, I began wondering if the new dishes might be meant to be—which gradually translated to “God has a menu in mind for me, even if I don’t yet know what it tastes like.” When feasts fell into place—unmarred by my clumsy wrench—I began to accept them as gifts. My life was being shaped by Something other than my will and my thinking. A Benevolent Something—and a better cook than I!
If I didn’t find God with all my thrashing and planning and searching, it’s because I’d made the mistake of searching for God–elsewhere. God is in me. Even Jesus said as much–though his teaching has been widely misinterpreted as direction to find God by “believing in Jesus,” rather than a call to find God in ourselves as Jesus did. Or as one wise yokel pointed out in an A.A. meeting, “You know why it’s so hard for us to find God? ‘Cause he ain’t lost.”
I didn’t have to find God—I merely had to get out of my own way so I could recognize God, who had been there in my kitchen all along. We chat at the sunny kitchen table these days (I talk out loud, and I also shut up to listen!)… As Abraham imagined of the idols, my God still doesn’t much care for my cooking–but thank God my God has a sense of humor!
“I have a hell of a lot of fun with God. I think that the guy has a tremendous sense of humor, or he wouldn’t have hid himself in the last place we’d ever look!” ~Chuck C., A New Pair of Glasses
Published March 2011, Wagon Wheel