Friday, May 14, 2010

“One of Us?”

Spring is in the air! Flowers are budding, the ground is thawing, and nature is waking up from a long winters nap. Many people are doing some spring cleaning to get rid of the old and bring in the new as summer approaches. This is a time of change, of rebirth. In a another sense, it is reminds me of how many of the world’s religions speak of death and rebirth, being lost and found, and rising from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix.


As people move through recovery, one important step they must take is Step 3 which is essentially a decision to, “turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand God.” And for many people, all progress halts at this step. Talking about religion can be scary to many people. It brings up bad images of mean nuns, overbearing priests, powerful caliphs, and esoteric monks. Consequently, many people avoid the discussion like the plague. It is intimidating. It is irritating. It is downright difficult.

For some, belief in a high power was how they were raised so the decision is not a huge stretch. For others, they have never considered the concept of a power greater than themselves or find the entire idea anti-scientific and stupid from the get go. This poses a problem for many when they arrive at Step 3.

Without waxing “theologic” (i.e. thinking Higher Power type stuff), I’d like us to take a look at a pop song called “One of Us” written in 1995 and made a hit by Joan Osbourne. We’ll look at the words of the song in light of the decision that Step 3 requires.

Osbourne sings a series of questions for the listener to cogitate asking, “If God had a name what would it be? If God had a face what would it look like?” Certainly huge questions for a pop song to ask! In the catchy chorus, she continues,

“What if god was one of us,
Just a slob like one of us,
Just a stranger on the bus,
Trying to make his way home.”

The song never really gives a direct answer but it hints at the idea that perhaps the divine is closer than we think, available to talk to, desiring relationship, and more understanding of our plight than we once thought or imagined. The writers of the A.A. Big Book hinted at the same thing, “When we drew near to God, God disclosed himself to us” (p. 57).

As winter turns to spring, lets us embrace the newness of the season. Let us turn away from the old and embrace the new. Let us open our hearts to the questions we must ask in order to recover. Maybe the important question is not is God one of us? Perhaps the question is who are we to God? Finally, may you take Step 3 and find it’s just the step you’ve always been looking for and never knew would feel so right.

Chris Newcomb

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