Recovery’s Best Kept Secret: God

Recovery’s Best Kept Secret: God

If you live in Branson for any length of time, at some point a tourist may ask about the city’s best kept secret.  It might happen at a local retail store or restaurant, but more likely it will take place at the filling station.  The typical encounter begins when you spy from the corner of your eye a car with out-of-state plates rolling up to the gas pump next to you.  The occupant emerges and you both say hello.  Pleasantries are exchanged about the weather or recent big game.  You ask when they got here and how long they plan to stay, and the topic of conversation naturally steers to Branson’s best restaurants and highlights.  You hear the familiar questions: “What’s the best show?” “Where’s the best place to eat?” and of course “What’s Branson’s best kept secret?” 

These are common questions for travel destinations, for obvious reasons.  If we are traveling, once we arrive to our destination, we don’t want to miss out on what’s important.  After all, we might not be back for a long time, or ever again.  These aren’t trivial questions either even though some might mistake them so.  Moreover, any Bransoner worth their salt has a ready answer to them.  Our intuition tells us the tourist is looking for something grand, even compelling.  They want something real and extraordinary.  After all, by definition a best kept secret is some significant fact that isn’t appreciated by everybody.  The tourist is asking because we live here.  They trust our opinion.  If anybody knows, it’s us.  We at CORE who live in Branson have been asked these very questions by tourists.

CORE is about recovery from substance abuse.  That’s what we do.  It weighs on our minds and our hearts practically every hour of every day.  Our program is twenty-five years old.  We’ve helped thousands of people.  If anybody should know about recovery issues, it’s us.  Not surprisingly, in a variety of contexts, people often ask us the same sorts of questions that tourists ask – except – instead of asking about the best show, they ask about recovery from drugs and alcohol.  They might be asking for themselves, or a friend or relative.  It may be at one of our centers or at a social or business event.  But we naturally anticipate these familiar questions like “What’s the key to recovery?” “How do I quit alcohol?”  “What’s the secret to getting off pills?”  

As it turns out, there indeed is a “best kept secret” about recovery, and we are happy to share it.  In today’s $42 billion per year addiction industry, it has been often glossed over, warped, and sometimes denied for a variety of political, economic, and social reasons that really have nothing to do with recovery itself.  The best kept secret about recovery, to which every suffering addict and alcoholic should take heed, is God.

Too often we hear of certain 12 Step programs, run by the very individuals who should be guardians of the Big Book, claiming that God is optional.  Yet even a cursory review of the book reveals the opposite.  It was written by Bill Wilson, who was convinced of the “necessity of belief in and dependence upon God.1  

Bill himself was first approached by an alcoholic friend who previously had been pronounced incurable.  “His human will had failed,” Bill writes, but “my friend sat before me, and he made the pointblank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself.2  His friend seemingly had been raised from the dead.  Bill took note because he personally knew this man.  He saw the hopeless extent of his friend’s condition and knew the power to recover could not have originated within him.3  Moreover, Bill also wrote about his most desperate moment, when he finally followed his friend’s wise advice:

I humbly offered myself to God, as I then I understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction.4

He further adds, “I have not had a drink since” to punctuate the significance of the event.

The central theme of the Big Book’s 12 Steps, six of which reference God, is summarized in a single prefacing sentence, “There is One who has all power–that One is God.  May you find Him now!5  

The Big Book itself flatly says that God is what it “is about.6  “Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater that yourself which will solve your problem.  That means . . . that we are going to talk about God.7  And indeed, one of its most pertinent ideas is that “probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism,” but that “God could and would if he were sought.8  

The foregoing seems clear enough to us, but people wanting to minimize God’s role in recovery point to Big Book phrases such as “Higher Power”9 and “Power greater than ourselves.”10  These don’t ignore God at all.  They simply acknowledge the fact that if we ask a hundred people who God is, we invariably get a hundred different answers.  The 12 Steps don’t try to force anybody’s particular conception of God on members.  AA has never been affiliated with any organized religion or tried to enforce rigid conceptions about God upon its members.  The Big Book is careful to note that our relationship is properly with God as we – not somebody else – understand Him.  

Unfortunately, some have taken these “higher power” references to the extreme and run with them causing all sorts of mischief.  They even tell addicts and alcoholics who are new to recovery that one’s higher power can be virtually anything – a door knob, the group, or even a ham sandwich.  Even some of the general service’s approved literature published after the Big Book appears to acquiesce to some of these ideas. 

We can’t take them seriously.  Who really believes that a ham sandwich is the Spirit of the Universe who keeps them clean and sober?11  Who wants to turn their will and their life over to the care of a doorknob?12  Who seeks to improve conscious contact with their home group by praying to it?13  There are inherent limitations on how far the idea of a higher power can be stretched and still do the 12 Steps.  There’s really no justification for warping it any further than to what the Big Book plainly refers: God as we understand him.14 

Our intent here is to be perfectly honest with the reader. Our clients come to us for real answers and help.  They’ve been to therapists, counselors and support groups before.  They’ve tried things like cognitive behavioral therapy, prescription drugs, physical exercise, finding new social groups, and many other recovery strategies offered by America’s billion dollar industry.  If any of these things had been sufficient to overcome their addiction and alcoholism, they would have recovered long before finding us.  Notwithstanding, they come to us because they are beyond human aid, powerless.  Their options are whittled down to one.  They are “100% hopeless, apart from divine help.15

It is for addicts and alcoholics that the value of the 12 Steps really shines.  This is as true today as it was eighty-years ago when the Big Book was first published.  We have seen this proven over and over again.  God never fails.

The Big Book’s promises always materialize for people who work the program.  We know freedom, happiness, and peace.  Feelings of uselessness and self-pity disappear.  We lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in others. Self-seeking slips away. We no longer regret the past but rather see how our experience can benefit others.  Our whole attitude and outlook upon life changes, too.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity leave us.  We intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. 

In short, we realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.16  This is the miracle of the 12 Steps.  Our recovery comes from God.

A Conversation with Heidi Butler

A Conversation With Heidi Butler

Heidi Butler’s testimony is so moving that we cannot help but recognize her transformation as a miracle of God.  She exudes life, love, and laughter, and she is a joy to all who have the pleasure of meeting her.  

Heidi talked to us at the Branson Re-Store, which she manages for CORE.  She also was instrumental last December in putting together our holiday give-away at the Hollister School District.  “My heart was all there,” she says, thinking of her own humble beginnings.  As a child she had been blessed by the kindness of others: 

It was such a healing thing for me to be part of something that I had been on the receiving end before.  I was the kid that the churches brought gifts to.  So to be able to be part of this, where parents came in and picked out things their kids wanted and took them home and wrapped them, it was healing.  It was so rewarding for me to be able to be part of that.

Heidi’s done a marvelous job with the thrift store too.  The decor surrounding us is eclectic, with mixed patterns and textures that resist traditional sensibilities.  Yet the arrangements unmistakably reflect her personality, suggesting home and love.  The unique collection of items is a fitting backdrop for her story, which she began with memories of a bohemian father who could never manage to stay in one place for very long.

I lived in a school bus when living in one wasn’t ‘cool.’  Who does that?  Who lives in the woods in deer cabins when you don’t even know who owns them?  My father.  With four children.  We’d make homes wherever we were.”  

Heidi’s alcoholic mother abandoned the family when Heidi was in the second grade, essentially leaving her in charge.  “I’ve been a mother ever since,” she says.  So Heidi cooked and cleaned, dragging a chair to the kitchen counter to do kitchen work and dishes.  She remembers making spaghetti with barbeque sauce once because that’s all the family had to eat.  

Although the family was poor, Heidi took special interest in making good appearances.  In particular, she made up her mind that nobody would make fun of them because of the way they looked.  “I got up early and fixed [my sisters’] hair.  I always was scrounging around for clothes.  We always looked good.”  Local churches stepped in from time to time, like on holidays, to help.  But for the most part the family was on its own.  In the ninth grade Heidi took a job to help them make ends meet – all in addition to school and family responsibilities.

But for an accident of circumstances, Heidi may never have been introduced to drugs.  After high school, she worked for a telephone company in Arkansas and soon enough became a telecommunications engineer.  She married and had two children.  By the time she turned thirty-something, Heidi was living the life of a typical, suburban soccer mom, a long way off from her common roots.  She never cared for alcohol, and she knew nothing about illicit substances.  Unfortunately, her world was about to be turned upside-down.

Her second pregnancy had complications, resulting in multiple surgeries.  Heidi was prescribed pain pills.  Within a short time she was hooked.  “One day I realized it had been six weeks and thought, I don’t need these.  Then the next day I felt really bad.”  Her first thought was, “I’m not healed,” but a trip to the doctor revealed something else.     

Her physician advised her to go cold-turkey and get off the medication.  It was easier said than done.  “I tried it, and that did not work.  It was amazing,” she said.  Then the obsession kicked in. “I lay there in bed thinking, I can’t do this, I’ve got to have something.  Then I remembered, my friend just had surgery, I bet she has some.” 

What followed was a five-year nightmare in search of pills.  Driven by obsession, Heidi applied all her instincts in pursuit of her addiction, “a whole nasty web of deception, lies, and manipulation.”  Heidi eventually entered a thirty-day treatment program.  Upon completing it she was confronted with two, new crises.  Her husband wanted a divorce, and her employer was shipping her job off to India.  

At this point Heidi clearly was headed for disaster, although she did not realize it at the time.  She left for Nebraska for a fresh start but became disillusioned, homesick, and desperately missing her children.  A chance meeting on Facebook with an old highschool sweetheart seemed to offer hope.  She returned home to Arkansas, and they married shortly thereafter.  The marriage was not the answer.  

The new spouse had a drinking problem.  He also used methamphetamines, which soon became a problem for Heidi.  Within two months Heidi was full blown into an addiction to meth.  Her life was spiraling out of control.  

Significantly, Heidi was almost completely isolated by this time.  She had nobody to talk to about the “thoughts that went on in my mind when I put drugs into my body,” and those thoughts were dark.  Her relationship with her husband became more toxic as he became more abusive.  She wasn’t working, had no social contacts, and had been cut off from her children.  With her entire world imploding, Heidi decided that it would be best for everybody if she just ended it all.  It somehow sounded polite to her, and she didn’t know what else to do.  Her only guidance was her own meth-corrupted thinking:  

I didn’t want my kids when asked, how’s your mom doing, to have to make up some story, like she’s off working somewhere or whatever.  It would be better off them being young saying, my mom died.  I knew I was going to be locked up.  Instead of them saying she was in a mental ward, they could just say, she died.”  

There was an old shotgun in the house.  Enough was enough.  With calm resolve, she picked up the loaded gun and walked out onto the patio so as not to make a mess.  Pointing it at her face, she pulled the trigger.  Click.

In that instant things looked undeniably bleak for her. But, as she came to understand later, Heidi Butler has an awesome God.  He’s always on time, never late.  God arrived for her in the moment she hit rock bottom, the only point she could be reached – when inside of herself she had given up and abandoned reliance upon herself and upon all things human.  

The gun didn’t fire, either.  Overwrought, she fled her home and ended up in Hollister.  Finding a church, Heidi sat in the back of the sanctuary sobbing.  “I know it was God who pushed me,” she says.  A woman seeing her distress went to her: 

She came in the back and handed me a napkin and said, you look like you could use a hug. That’s the first hug I’d had in – I can’t tell you.  I cried like a baby.  So she took me out to the lobby and said, I know you have a story.  I poured it out to her, I didn’t leave anything out.”  

Even better, the woman had a helpful idea for what Heidi should do.  As the two had lunch together later, she told Heidi there was a place for her to go that was close, right down the road.  It was a year-long addiction recovery program called CORE.

At CORE Heidi blossomed into the woman of God she was meant to be.  She arrived to find like-minded people with whom she had a connection, who had been there before.  She was impressed by the simple gestures of kindness shown upon her arrival, such as her house manager offering her a meal.  “I’ll never forget that, ever,” she says.  Heidi initially made a personal commitment to stay for four months, which enabled her “to start doing the things they told me to do.”  That entailed doing the Twelve Steps, which saved her life.  When the four months were up, she says, “I couldn’t believe the changes.  And I wasn’t ready to leave.”  

Heidi discovered that the Steps weren’t simply about healing from addiction but were a program for life.  She found balance and learned how to take care of herself.  She also reached out to her children, and she became an important part of their lives again.  She grew in her love for the Lord and eventually was asked to become a house manager.  Heidi ended up running three separate houses, and she acted as a mentor in CORE’s EDGE program for young adults.  And then one day CORE’s Program Director Kevin Hunt called with a job proposal:

He said, would you be interested in working at the [Branson] thrift store?  I was like, wow, I’ve never done anything like that before.  I said yes.  I just knew it was the right thing to do.  I started working for CORE in August 2019.

Still later, Heidi began running the Branson store when CORE opened our new Hollister location.  She could have gone back to her old career, but she decided to stay here.  “I’m here because I’m happy,” she smiles, “I have joy in my life.  It’s fulfilling and important.  I get to mentor these women and give back what was given to me.  I always want to give back to the newcomer who comes in.  I’m able to give back, and still have contact with clients.”  

Perhaps best of all, Heidi’s children now live locally because their father relocated to Hollister.  “If they had stayed in Arkansas, I don’t know what God’s plan would have been for me.  But I was here, right where I needed to be.”  So by happy circumstance, her children are now here too, and she is able to be with them all the time.  She concludes, “God just had his hand in all this – my story.

CORE and Hollister School District’s Holiday Store Spreads Christmas Cheer

CORE and Hollister School District’s Holiday Store Spreads Christmas Cheer

In December CORE and Hollister School District shared the joy of Christmas by holding a holiday giveaway for families in need.  Hundreds of people had the opportunity to shop – for no charge – in a “Holiday Store” specially created at the school district and stocked with thousands of retail goods supplied by CORE.  The week-long event was an unmatched success.  Participants described their experiences with glowing superlatives.  The Holiday Store was the brainchild of CORE’s CEO Cary McKee.

The driving force of innovation is need.  In mid-October McKee found himself looking out the window of his office at CORE’s headquarters pondering a problem created by the pandemic.  It wasn’t related to money or clients – McKee already had made moves earlier in the year that assured the welfare of both program and clients.  Rather, McKee had a warehouse full of retail goods waiting to be distributed to people in need.  The year had been full of trauma and turmoil for the community, and many were becoming desperate.  As related by McKee, “So much hope has been robbed from us this year.  Families may struggle with being able to afford gifts for their children.  Because of the pandemic, through no fault of their own, now they’re struggling to make ends meet let alone worry about gifts.  What can we do to bless them and bring them a little bit of hope?”  He knew that they could be greatly helped by the items in CORE’s warehouse, but the pandemic severely limited the methods for getting them into the proper hands.

Throughout the year CORE had been making pickups of donated items from area retailers under an agreement with Good360.  They included items of all types – automotive, bed and bath, clothing, electronics, hardware, home appliance and furnishings, kitchen, lawn and garden, living room, and toys – nearly anything one might find at a big box retailer.  McKee originally intended for periodic giveaways to happen throughout the year, but the pandemic put a stop to his plans.  Bans on public gatherings and social distancing made such events impossible.  McKee had been mulling over ideas, but nothing appeared ideal.  He then asked himself, “What programs are already in place where we can maximize our giving to the community?”  The question quickly led to Hollister School District.

McKee’s own children attended the school district, and he knew that the district held an annual holiday event whereby families were “adopted” and blessed with Christmas presents.  The district would surely have identified hundreds of people who would benefit from what CORE already had in stock.  McKee thus envisioned a much larger, perhaps even improbable, event whereby the resources of CORE and the Hollister School District would combine synergistically.  The plan was huge, but families in need would be blessed beyond anybody’s imagination if they could pull it off.  With this in mind he called Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson, and scheduled a meeting at CORE’s warehouse.

As the two toured the facility going room to room, Dr. Wilson saw a genuine opportunity.  He’d heard people come up with ideas over the years and learned to moderate his expectations.  But what he saw at CORE’s facility was the real thing.  Commenting on his visit, Dr. Wilson said, “I saw that, and I was moved.  I saw what it could do for our families and our community.  I’ve known Cary for many years and we’ve partnered on things before, but this was just overwhelming.”  A new partnership was made, and the two principals called in their lieutenants to help make it happen.

On CORE’s side, McKee called upon Gary Osborn, whom he describes as a mastermind in logistics, to coordinate the monumental task of moving the inventory and reorganizing it at the school district.  Dozens of CORE staff and volunteers would be enlisted to accomplish this over a period of weeks using CORE’s vehicles.  Of their contribution, volunteer Bret Taylor, who also is a Hollister police officer regularly assigned to the school district, said, “They were phenomenal.  They came over here and worked, stacking and organizing, making sure things were clean and that everything was presentable.  It looked like a store.  We helped and directed, but it was definitely CORE.

For the school district’s part, significant space would be needed to create the Holiday Store.  For this they set aside rooms in the Early Childhood Learning Center.  More particularly, two parallel rooms, each the size of a school cafeteria.  Dr. Wilson also called upon his counseling staff led by counselor Sandra Brown to coordinate an entirely new kind of holiday event.  In past years, hundreds of people receiving assistance would come and go at their own convenience.  This year, each of the individuals and families would be scheduled to arrive at specific dates and times.  They not only would pick up the customary assistance, but also they would be invited to shop in the Holiday Store for whatever they needed.  School district personnel would be needed to help organize the store, coordinate appointments, and be on hand while people shopped.

In addition to CORE and the school district, several other organizations volunteered time too, such as the teacher’s union (MSTA), Rotary Club of Hollister, and The Connell Insurance Group.  

In a mere six weeks, the Holiday Store was ready.  Even as the first families arrived, it was apparent that the event would be successful. Everyone was touched by an outpouring of gratitude and joy.  As Sandy Brown observed, “What’s Christmas about?  It’s about giving hope.  It’s been a rough year, so the hope coming from this is huge.  Just seeing the families come in and being excited about taking home things they never could afford.”  Fellow counselor Ben Miller agreed, adding, “In previous years there were times where families sought support and there weren’t enough resources.  This year’s different.  We’re just over the moon to have the support this year because of the families who really need it.” 

In addition to hundreds of persons receiving support, all who helped make this happen felt equally blessed.  They were reminded that some of the most important Christmas gifts can’t be wrapped – like the giving of our time and helping fill someone’s heart with joy.  As McKee remarked, when CORE’s clients recover and become sober in mind and spirit, they are filled with gratitude and just want to serve and to give of themselves:  “What we teach here is a God-centered life that naturally leads a person to give of themselves without us even pushing them.  It’s a beautiful thing.  They found joy in it!”  School district staff agreed that Christmas indeed is the season of giving.  Dr. Watkins said “Our ultimate goal is to bless people.  Covid-19 has robbed us of things we normally do and take for granted.  This event has allowed us to make a difference in another’s life by being able to bless them.”  Counselor Jennifer Miller further added, “It’s been a blessing not only for the families but for all of the people working on it!”  

Everybody commenting on the Holiday Store expressed genuine interest in seeing it continue in the future.  Officer Taylor summed up everyone’s feelings when he said, “If CORE’s got inventory, we’ve definitely got the people who need it and the space to give it out!”  McKee further expressed his personal thanks to all of the CORE staff and volunteers who gave of themselves to help make Christmas a little brighter for the community during this event.

A Purposeful Life

A Purposeful Life

People have been making New Year’s resolutions for thousands of years.  The practice is older than our Julian calendar.  These days, so many resolutions concern mundane matters, like losing weight or washing one’s hands every time one goes to the bathroom.  The more ambitious ones involve a self-improvement project, maybe learning a new skill, or kicking a bad habit.  There is a sliding scale of New Year’s resolutions, after all.  As we get to the higher end of the scale, the goals become grander and progressively more difficult and unsure.  At the highest end we find what many consider to be the singular apex and mother of all New Year’s resolutions: discovering their purpose in life.  It’s the one aspiration worthy to claim the title of New Year’s Resolutions par excellence.  Only those with courage have their sights set on it.  Yet, at some point, many will find the drive within themselves to at least try.  Factually, success is uncertain, but it’s widely considered the ultimate, crème de la crème of undertakings – a truly commendable commitment. 

As we might anticipate, there is an entire industry of life purpose gurus out there waiting to help.  They hold so-called spiritual retreats and journeys that promise to show seekers how to “align role and soul,” “find purpose and reset your mind,” and even experience “shamanic life purpose rebirth.” A simple internet search yields dozens upon dozens of offerings like this.  They’re located pretty much everywhere on earth but tend to be clustered around scenic locations.  One can attend retreats nestled among Sedona’s monoliths and spires, Spain’s snow-capped mountains, or Peru’s Andean slopes, for example.  Each location boasts otherworldly touches in keeping with the gravity of the mission.  Sedona, we are told, has balanced energy vortices.  In Spain the journey happens among the Basque people whose language and origins are forgotten by time.  And in Peru there are the mysterious Nazca Lines and adorable alpacas.  The whole idea here is that both the geographic and cultural settings must be in keeping with the importance of the lofty undertaking.  When one is searching for their raison d’etre, a Motel 6 conference room won’t do.  Moreover, for those who need extra help, most of these retreats promise “psychedelic plants” to facilitate the pilgrims’ spiritual journeys.  All of these getaways basically share two things in common: big promises, and big price tags.  You want to spend 5 days with the alpacas searching for the ultimate meaning of life?  $8,000 reserves your place.

We at CORE sympathize with everyone wanting to find meaning and purpose.  The longing appears to be universal and not caused by an addiction or other misfortune.  We initially came from all walks of life and nearly every economic strata imaginable.  At one time many of us bragged about spouses, children, and lucrative careers and businesses.  Even with all of that, there still seemed a hole in our lives that couldn’t be filled.  Something vital was missing.  Importantly, things dramatically changed once we recovered.  We enjoyed peace of mind and discovered we could face life serenely, successfully, and purposefully.  It’s no exaggeration to say that every recovered alcoholic and addict knows their true purpose in life.  Therefore, we believe here that we can offer practical direction about this topic.  

As the reader may surmise, we have difficulty taking the spiritual retreats seriously.  Many of us at CORE, before arriving here, actually went on our own retreats involving psychedelic plants, among other things.  Our retreats, minus incarcerations and hospitalizations, often lasted years.  We didn’t find what we were looking for until we worked the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and found God.

Too many people today sink into what philosophers and mental health experts call existential crisis.  They think that finding purpose in life means always moving towards some significant goal that aligns with their personal values and passions.  Their efforts may be rewarded with victories.  Yet the sweetness of these victories isn’t what they hoped for and doesn’t last long.  In quieter moments, they wonder what all the fuss was about and, over time, they begin asking themselves, is this all there is?  This line of thinking inevitably leads them to question what life is about.  They may even ask if life has any real purpose and wonder why they’re even here.  Such existential moments happen even though they adore their families and outwardly appear successful to everybody around them (remember – it takes a lot of money to go on a pilgrimage to Peru.)

Such persons find themselves wrestling with the same dilemma as King Solomon while writing the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Been there, seen that, done that – that was Solomon.  He had the moxie and the means to accomplish all of life’s dreams and become wildly successful.  He saw and did, in his own words, “all things that are done under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:4.  From education to entertainment, romance, and successful business ventures, Solomon had it all.  Living almost three millennia ago, Solomon checked off all of the categories and achieved everything that people today pursue in search of meaning and purpose.  

Despite success after success Solomon was stricken with the same recurrent thought.  “Meaningless, meaningless,” he said, “everything is meaningless.”  Ecclesiastes 1:2.  We believe that Solomon’s conclusion is the natural collision course awaiting everybody who hasn’t accepted God.  The English philosopher Bertrand Russell famously said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”  On this matter, Russell may well be right. 

The alternative to God is a random universe without purpose, with our lives running solely on self-will.  When this is our paradigm, it doesn’t matter how many successes we achieve or how much property we acquire.  Even the significance we may derive from our families, careers, or diversions may become overshadowed if we think that ultimately, in some cosmic sense, existence isn’t really about anything.  The fact that something might be personally important to us in the moment doesn’t sustain us.  If the universe really is random, and if nothing in our transitory existence matters, then it’s easy to see how one might question and ask what’s the point of it all anyway.  There may be some who claim that living in a pointless universe is comforting, or even liberating, but we think they are few in number.

The Big Book teaches a simple prayer: “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.” Id., at 85.  All manner of ills are settled by the singular change in focus brought about when we acknowledge God and dedicate ourselves to live in accordance with His will.  We remember the old days, the disarray brought upon by trying to find purpose in our own self-will.  We had chosen “to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all.”  Big Book, at 49.  Where did that leave us?  More often than not pursuing vague plans that lacked true focus, passion, and fulfillment.  We often were paralyzed by doubtfulness and indecision.  The universe rarely lined up with our intentions.  All of that changed in Step Three when we asked God to be our Director.

As the Big Book relates:

Here are thousands of men and women [who] flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking. …[T]hey found that a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction flowed into them. …Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life.

Id., at 50-51.

The search for the purpose of life has challenged people for thousands of years. Too often we begin at the wrong starting point – ourselves.  We ask self-centered questions like, what do I want it to be?  What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future?  By focusing on ourselves we never reach our life’s purpose which, as Solomon concludes, is to “fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of all mankind.”  Ecclesiastes 12:13.  Practically speaking, every purposeful life carries the “vision of God’s will into all of our activities.” Big Book, at 85.

We say these things because this is our experience and our perspective looking at the world and people around us.  We do not want to be seen as fire and brimstone preachers pounding the pulpit.  At CORE, we are a testament to the fact that consciousness of the presence of God is today the most important fact of our lives.  It is in God that we find happiness and freedom, empowerment and self-worth, and the heart-felt desire to be of service to others.  Our hope and fervent prayer is that everyone will find the One whom we have so happily discovered: God – our true purpose in life!