The day I found God
I was in rehab. For the 3rd time. And I was resolved to only 1/2 of Step One- that I was powerless over alcohol. I still had reservations that my life was truly unmanageable (by me) and was adamantly opposed against the idea that the “higher power greater than myself “ could or even would help me. I really hated God at this moment in my life. I blamed Him for everything bad that happened to me in my terribly dysfunctional life. I truly despised Him.
I was in group. In “the circle “. And lo and behold the subject was God. I sat there hearing (but not listening to) the other people spouting their praises and joys at the relationships they had with Him. But I couldn’t connect. I couldn’t relate. I was aggravated and becoming more irritated with each minute passing and each person sharing. This was bullshit!
The counselor (I guess) noticed my body language and noticeable disgust with this particular subject and decided to call on me. I told her I didn’t have anything to share. She persisted and expressed my noticeable discontent of this particular subject and her own observations of my behavior when it came to the God topic. She asked me, “I would like to know what you really think of God.”
I exploded. I became so angry. It’s not like me. I replied to her. “You really wanna know how I feel about God?!! FUCK GOD!!! That’s how I feel!”
It really was a pin drop moment. More so was the shocked look on the group members’ faces. I had no regrets of what I just said. I was justified. He never was there for me. Never. I was 33 and never once related to these joys and praises I heard with deaf ears and closed mind. God wasn’t for me.
I can’t remember the counselor’s name but she was the least shocked in the room; I could tell. She calmly asked me to stay after the meeting and speak to her. The meeting went on for just a little bit longer but I blotted out the remainder with my own destructive voice cursing myself for being stupid enough to be honest especially in a way that might get me kicked out of rehab. I knew the “hot water” game. I knew how to lie, manipulate and “play along”. My career was on the line here. Yes, that’s what I was really thinking.
After the meeting the counselor took me in her office and talked frankly with me. I really had no respect for the woman. She was a country bumpkin. Uneducated. An ex-meth head. Simple and plain in appearance and manner. I truly believed there was nothing for me to learn from her. I looked down on her. Looking back now, I truly believe she knew how I felt and didn’t let it deter her.
“Joel, why are you here?” She began.
“To get sober” I replied. (Easy enough)
“Do you REALLY wanna get sober?”
“Yes” I said. (It really was the truth)
“I’ve watched you for the past couple of months and I know how you feel about God. But I really need the truth about you wanting to be sober!”
I thought for a second. About my last drunk. The terror of my bottom. My life up to this moment.
“Yes. I really want to get sober” I said.
“Then you’re gonna have to trust somebody other than yourself,” she replied.
I guess she saw the disappointment on my face. This was impossible! I truly felt like I’ve never trusted anyone in my entire 33 years of living. Other than myself. It was a sad thought but it was the truth.
“Where has it gotten you to, Joel? Trusting only yourself.” She asked.
She had a valid point. This little bumpkin had me over a barrel. A very realistic moment. I had to wonder what was the harm in trying. I was thinking of ending it all not long ago. It wasn’t what I had planned for myself.
“Nowhere” I heard myself reply.
“Will you just try trusting me for a few minutes? I want to really help you.” She inquired.
I was suddenly scared of what was going on here. I was in unchartered territory. What was she talking about?
“Ok” I said.
“I know this isn’t easy for you but I wanna try a little exercise with you. But you really have to trust me.”
Another moment of reflection. I really wanted to get sober but was never successful. I tried on my own hundreds if not thousands of times. This is where I got me to. To this one weird scary moment with a woman I would have never trusted. Never. But I did at this moment.
“I do.” I said.
“Okay!” She began. “Now I want you to close your eyes and just listen to me”
I did as she asked.
“Now I want you to take all them thoughts in that big ole’ head of yours and empty them out! I know there’s a lot in there but I need you to empty your head completely for me”
[Side note: in previous groups and meditation exercises I had a pretty good idea (from previous rehabs and self searching for knowledge) of ‘exercises’ to complete such a task. And she knew this.]
“Ok” I said. And used imagery (thoughts in balloons, lol) and breathing to achieve her request. I was trusting her.
“Keep going, I know there’s a lot in there. I need it all out.”
I was exerting some serious mental energy now. It really was as if I was falling into a semi-trance state at this point. My brain seemed as if it was becoming an endless void of blackness. It really was pretty empty now.
“I’m there” I heard myself whisper. It sounded like a voice in the wind from miles away.
“Okay Joel. Keep your eyes closed. I just want to ask you one question. Where is God at in your life right now?”
An image immediately came into my mind.
A very disturbing image. I was standing at the rear of a car. A big old car like from the 70s. And the trunk was open. And I was looking into the trunk. It was an image I’ll never forget as long as I live.
Inside the trunk was a man. He was alive but it seemed like only barely. He was old with thick scaly grimy skin which was layered with dirt and filth. He was dressed in raggedy filthy clothes tattered with holes and wear like he’s been in them for years. His long gray hair was matted, unkempt and mangled. The smell was repulsive. He hadn’t bathed in years either. I then noticed the duct tape. It was new. Shiny. Strong. Secure. It was wrapped around his wrists behind his back. It was wrapped around his ankles. And it was over his mouth.
But the eyes were what got through to me. Again I’ll never forget them. They were pleading. On the verge of tears. They were begging. They were so full of knowing and in the same so full of sadness and pain. It was the strangest moment in my life with a single thought of at first thinking he was begging for my help and then coming to realize he was begging me to let him help me.
This was my conception of God. This is where 33 years of self dependence tormented by dysfunction and addiction has led me in my belief of him.
I felt so ashamed. So guilty. I hurt physically all over even though I was still standing in this room with eyes closed with this little lady who led me here. To this point. To this realization. To God.
My eyes snapped open. She was still there. In front of me reading my eyes like a shock novel displayed to her in its entirety in a split moment. I wish I could’ve seen my own eyes at that moment just by the look in her eyes. She threw up her hands quickly in a halting gesture.
“Don’t answer that! I don’t want to know the answer!” She had a half shocked half grin on her face.
“Just know that now you have a place to start. To begin your relationship with Him.”
I was truly stunned. I was mentally outgunned by this woman who I was looking down on only moments earlier. Now I was suddenly full of admiration for her. The only thing that came out of my mouth was “you bitch!”
This is one of my truly defining moments in not only my sobriety but my life. Many of my stories take place inside of my head but they really are the truth as I understand it. These ‘spiritual moments’ (especially this one moment) have led to more and more trust in God over the years. I’m still practicing. But I can truly say when I think about God and a car now He is the one doing the driving and I am so happy to be a passenger on this journey with Him.
And I now have a deep desire to achieve a life of simplicity. To be the simple one. To look at the world as a passing in which I now have a chance to help others. I hope this story will help someone. If it even helps one person to find God then I would honestly be satisfied with that. Thanks for your time reading this. It been affectionately called my “God in the trunk story” by many fellow members in recovery.