Does the mention of God make you a bit nervous? And does that remain true even as you seek more spiritual connection in your life? This paradox defined my own journey for many years. Religion turned me off -- the more people talked about it, the more I shut down. Many who practiced some form of organized religion didn't walk the talk and I figured I didn't need whatever they were offering anyway; I was smart enough to handle life on my own. Because they weren't perfect spokespeople for God, I minimized his role in my life.
A miracle happened when a beautiful woman named Barbara told me God doesn't like religion either; he likes relationships. That made me curious. As I stopped letting humans speak for God and took responsibility for getting my own information, my ignorance and judgment fell away. I began to pursue God and immediately saw that he had first pursued me. Many of my struggles and adverse circumstances over the years were the times God was knocking. Knock, knock, knock. Hey, Sharon! Need some help? In my mind's eye, I see myself lifting my arm in a dismissive, arrogant wave and replying, No thanks, I got it!
I know that many people still feel that way. As a life coach, I began to search for a fresh way to talk about God so I could share the power of knowing him with my clients. I also wanted a simple plan of action. How does someone get to know God anyway? The steps I took to reach out to God grew organically from a very messy time in my life. My way worked for me, but it didn't seem very easy to replicate
Recently, I was introduced to Adam Jablin, a successful Florida businessman and recovering addict, who allowed God to help him in his recovery from addiction. Adam now bravely speaks and writes about his experiences. Not being a big fan of small talk, I immediately started asking him deeply personal questions about the role of faith in his recovery. Amazingly, he answered me, a complete stranger, with refreshing, ego-free frankness.
"For me, it's a constant letting go, a surrendering," Adam said. "My faith started with a belief that if I go to meetings, find a sponsor, work the 12-steps, and be of service, then I will stay sober. It built from there. When I prayed for something, miracles happened and I noticed that every time I let go, God did all the work! Before I knew it, my faith was about much more than just staying sober. God helps me to accomplish all my dreams, and then some. I am a co-creator."
Since Adam had confessed that he hadn't always been a fan of religion, I asked about the words someone used to first open his mind to the idea of a powerful, personal relationship with God. Adam sent me the following excerpt from his book, Confessions of a Lotsaholic, describing a meeting with the spiritual advisor at the rehab center he went to.
I felt drawn to Father Ron immediately. As I entered his office, he shook my hand and grasped my arm. After a time of getting acquainted, he said, "Adam. Do you see that mark I left on your arm?" I stared at my arm looking for ink or markings of some sort.
"No, Father. I don't."
"Please look again...look deeper."
I stared at my arm seeing absolutely nothing. "Sorry. I see nothing."
"Adam, I am going to begin to open your eyes now, so you may actually see God."
NO WAY! Whoa. See God?
"I did leave a mark on your arm there. I left my fingerprints, and even though you do not see them, they are there. If we had a UV light we could easily spot them on your arm, and all over this room," he said. "It's the same way with the Higher Power you and I refer to as God. Even though you cannot see him, he is there, son. You have to...are you ready?" he paused, "Trust. You have to trust that he is always with you, around you, inside of you ... and in everything this Universe offers."
That moment changed my life forever. In my entire life, except for my daughter's birth, I had never felt so connected and aware of a power greater than myself. I had also never been so conscious of that same power inside of me. My body and mind stayed in the room with Father Ron while my spirit opened its arms and welcomed in the light.
"Let's begin with prayer. First off, God knows you, Adam. He is you. He is inside you, so you may speak to him any way you want. I see your strong muscles. I bet you eat a healthy diet. Three square meals a day?"
"More like seven."
"Perfect," Father Ron said. "Now, the way you got those muscles is exactly how we are going to get you more spiritually aware of God. I want you to have three meals a day of prayer to get this connection big and strong like your body.
Father Ron went on to create a spiritual diet for Adam that was complete and accessible. Here at last were some steps to God I could share.
Thank God. Be as specific as you can. Like a good thank you note, let God know what you are grateful for and why; let him know how his gifts make you feel. If you can't think of anything to be grateful for, be glad for the air he gives you to breathe. Think of where you'd be without it. Feel the gratitude seep into your bones as you talk to God and find more things to be grateful for. Now offer to share yourself. Say something like, "God, you've given me so much. How can I help others?" Seek opportunities to be God's hands on earth today.
Look for God. He is all around you and in you. If you aren't seeing him, it's because you aren't looking. Be observant. Look in nature. Look in inspirational literature. Dive into the beautiful mysteries and truths of the Bible. Look for God in other people. See God's work in acts of kindness and create some of your own.
Thank God. Find three reasons to be grateful. He may not have given you all that you wanted today, but he gave you all you need. He always does. Be grateful for all of the good that you are. Ask for forgiveness where you might have fallen short. Forgive yourself. Forgive those who have hurt or offended you. Let it all go. Ask for blessings and protection for your loved ones.
These steps are simple and only take a few moments a day. Simple, but not easy. Like any new habit, it will require focus and discipline to make God a part of your life. It's supposed to be that way; God wants us to stay focused on him even as the world tries to distract us in a multitude of ways. You always have free will to make a choice: Will today be a day of living toward God or away from him? Try both and see which you prefer.
As you begin to reap the benefits God has in store for you, you will want to talk to him longer, more often, and in your own way. There is no way to do this wrong for God knows your heart and he knows what you need. He has always been there for you. The moments of prayer are more for your own discovery than his. Follow your intuition to make your relationship with God personal and true for you.
Inspired by Adam Jablin, author of Confessions of a Lotsaholic (soon to be published)
(c) Copyright - Sharon S. Roy. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
If you would like to talk to someone about your spiritual journey or how God can help your recovery from addiction, you can find Sharon Roy at http:http://www.succeedhappily.com -- Sharon is a Certified Life Coach specializing in helping alcoholics, addicts, and those who love them most create strategies for spiritual healing. Adam Jablin can be reached by writing to 6100 Park of Commerce Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33487