Step 2 of 12: A Greater Power
"Religion is not understood. Those who wish themselves pious, in order to admire themselves in this state, are made stupid by religion. What is needed is to lose ourselves completely in God; what is needed is perfect silence, supernatural silence. Pious talk has something revolting about it." --Julien Green
Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
My favorite definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Our ego or false self tells us that our willpower, our intelligence, and/or our work can save us. In my case, those attributes just kept digging an ever deeper hole of despair. Any illusion I had of self reliance and circumstantial mastery was eventually shattered. Transformation, however, comes through other characteristics, which are more challenging for me, like honesty, humility, vulnerability, and surrender.
When Bill Wilson co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, as a desperate alcoholic, he knew first hand that the life changes he needed weren't going to happen overnight. "We came to believe" implies an extended process or journey, not an immediate transformation. Often with addictive or compulsive behavior, it takes multiple attempts to finally BELIEVE. The process is not unlike a dense fog that is gradually cleared by an ever warming and powerful rising sun. Eventually there is light and clarity, but neither are instantaneously created. It's what Richard Rohr calls the work of spirituality that "is the ongoing liberation of head, heart and body, toward full luminous seeing and living, and not a mere mental 'decision for Jesus' or the one-time insurance policy of sacraments received." (Breathing Underwater, p. 14).
The power greater than ourselves assumes there is a spiritual force in the universe that is available to us. I believe this force is inside us; that God breathed it into us. All that's needed is a willingness to call on that force and to believe that it, and only it, brings the healing we desire. It's simple, but not easy. If Step 1 is the realization that our lives have become chronically self indulgent, then Step 2, as Gerald May says, is a "True God" experience that really does save us, because it's always better than we thought we could expect or earn. That saving experience alone can restore the sanity that we will need as we work through the remaining 10 steps.
That saving experience of restoration can be realized in Step 2, but is expanded and clarified in Step 3 and deepened in Steps 4 and 5.