My understanding of my Higher Power can be as flexible as I want it to be. This idea made me acutely uncomfortable when I first encountered it. But it helps to place it within the framework of the story of the elephant and the blind men. One, touching the creature's tail, said “It's a rope-like beast, frayed at the end.” Another, catching hold of the elephant's trunk, cried “No, it's a thick snake.” A third, touching a tusk, declared the animal was smooth and hard, much like a spear.
I am blind to all the wide world, with only a thimbleful of awareness about my own self at best. With my limited, all-too-human perceptions, I will never know the extent of my Higher Power, if I were to spend every day of the rest of my life trying. I still believe even to imagine I can fully comprehend Her is awfully presumptuous. But within the loving guidance of my twelve-step recovery group, I am encouraged to explore my understanding of the force I choose to call “God.”
When I was new to the program, my sponsor told me I could borrow her Higher Power if I didn't have one already. If my own HP wasn't working for me, why not try another source? She also made an assignment that seemed remarkably forward: define the God of my understanding. The exercise was difficult and revealing. I discovered that the God I called on was all-loving, and all-knowing. But I didn't really believe this entity was all-powerful. My perceptions of the world's great pain and its effects on all living beings made it impossible to believe God had the power to end suffering.
With my sponsor's help, and through the alchemy of the group's experience, strength and hope, I began to see how God's power permeates all of existence. A word in a meeting, a chance phone call, a stray beam of light: just the right thing, at the time I needed it most. I witnessed HP's strength lifting and sustaining my fellow 12-step members. I am beginning to see, dimly still, how pain and suffering differ: pain is a human condition and inescapable, but I can choose whether or not I suffer.
Now, I have an ever-growing understanding of God, and I often envision myself as a simple electric plug. All I need to do to experience the power of God's grace is push the prongs into the outlet and the power flows through me, along with HP's limitless love and unbounded wisdom. But when that analogy fails me, as it probably will at some point, there is another perspective, another way to look at it that will carry me through the pain and relieve my suffering. My HP is all-powerful, and my life is touched by grace every moment I allow it to be so.