The Second Step of AA: A Softer take on Spirituality

“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” There is a great deal of ingenuity and cleverness to be found in the way the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are composed and ordered. The second step is a great example of the brilliance of Bill W., founder of AA. It asks not that an addict or alcoholic immediately accept the idea that there is a power greater than oneself who can restore our mental clarity and perspective. Instead, it only asks us to seek a belief in a higher power, to make an honest effort to accept the idea of a higher power in our lives.

This softer stance on spirituality has opened the door to hundreds of thousands of addicts who begin their journey in recovery firmly rooted in the belief that there is no god. If you count yourself among the millions of atheists in the United States today, you need not feel that recovery through the 12 steps is inaccessible to you. An examination of the second step offers those resistant to accepting the existence of god a measure of comfort, as they are not asked to swallow this belief whole in order to work the steps.

So how should one thoroughly work their second step? In the simplest terms, you should keep an open mind when it comes to the concept of a higher power, and maintain a willingness to believe in a god of your understanding. This is not much to ask, especially since in return you are offered a life beyond your wildest dreams and lasting sobriety. To fully work your second step and be able to move on through the other ten, you need to hold on to this willingness to believe, keeping an unwavering commitment to open mindedness when it comes to the idea of a higher power. Only then will you be able to successfully work the program of AA and receive the gifts spoken of in the AA promises.

The second step of Alcoholics Anonymous is structured so that all those in need of recovery can receive help from the program, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. All it asks is that you remain open minded and willing to accept the existence of a higher power. You are free to form your own concept of god, unbound by the definitions set forth by organized religion. To thoroughly work this step, you must maintain your open-mindedness as you proceed through the rest of the 12 steps. You may be surprised just how quickly you come to accept the existence of a higher power in your life and rejoice in your newfound connection to spirituality!

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