The Power of Acceptance: Embracing Change for a Brighter Future
12 Step recovery programs offer many promises. A particularly great one is the promise of receiving a 'kit of spiritual tools'. These tools help keep us sober, one day at a time. AA literature actually tells us this simple kit will be ‘laid at our feet’ (p. 25 BB). The toolbox is not thrust into our face or hands but rather offered as a gift. Significantly, that means we can use them if we want to, but we never have to.First, let’s be clear about the word GOD. In 12 Step Recovery, and most treatment centers, it is explicit that GOD is as ‘you understand Him'. And, we expand 'Him' to the more all-inclusive Him/Her/It/Them. Whatever you want to call your ‘power greater than yourself’ will work. 'GOD' is just the English word we use to name and refer to this concept we are talking about.
One of the biggest and often most difficult concepts in recovery is that of Surrender. We 'Surrender to Win'. It is a complete paradox. We 'Let Go and Let God'. We 'Turn it Over'. The GOD Bag can be seen as a physical and symbolic way to let our Higher Power take care of our ‘problems’.
In our Art Therapy sessions at Serenity Vista, the creation of a personal GOD Bag is always a favorite activity. Each guest is given a brown paper lunch bag. There are paints, markers, crayons, pastels, glue, glitter, feathers, etc. The intention is that each person makes their own unique creation. In other words, they make a physical representation of their very own concept of a Power Greater Than Themselves.
Making the bag is the first part of the project. However, the rest of the project becomes a spiritual tool to use indefinitely. Now, each guest writes down on a small piece of paper all those ‘problems and difficulties’. Most notably, the things rattling around in the mind. Over and over. And over and over. You know what that is like? They are usually about difficult relationships, financial complications, the troublesome health of self or a loved one. And of course, the biggest request in early recovery, "please remove my obsession to drink and/or use other drugs”.
Then they fold up the papers and place them in the God Bag. The problems are symbollically given to GOD, in an act of surrender. By placing a problem in the bag, we agree to let GOD take care of it for us. In other words, there is a release of the distressing issues into the care of GOD. The results of using this simple spiritual tool are profound.The God Bag is usually placed on a dresser, someplace close by. Consequently, the God Bag becomes a consistent visual reminder of who is taking care of things. There is a remarkable thing about the Bag. Because the Bag is really handy, each person is welcome to take their problem back out anytime. You know the feeling when you pick up an old problem – ya, that one. It’s available anytime. Therefore, guests are advised to keep a pen and paper right next to the bag as 'troubles' crop up.
However, miraculously, people find if they leave the ‘problem’ to GOD, it is taken care of. Weeks or months later, open the BAG. You'll find when you explore the contents that GOD really did look after your problems. That huge ‘trouble’ you had? It may even seem to have belonged to someone else.There are many other spiritual tools because it is a really big Tool Kit. There is a tool for anything you may face. We’ll teach you many of them at Serenity Vista. 45 –90 day residential programs offer you the time you need to practice the tools. Consequently, you will leave the program ready to engage in life. You will have the means to deal with life on life’s terms.
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