What I choose to believe

I don’t happen to believe the same things most people in A.A. do. One reason is I learned some things that you people don’t know. Another is that you people seem to have learned some things that I never did, and you say things that don’t make any sense to me.

I wish I could believe the things that you people do. Some of you seem real darn happy. And the comfort you must feel: believing that your God loves you unconditionally and thinks you’re special and has a place for you for all eternity… Damn! No wonder you’re so happy! I’d be happy if I believed that, too.

But I can’t.

As often as I say this, I hear: “Contempt prior to investigation”. Yes, and that’s exactly what it is, except for two things: 1) I have no contempt and 2) I have investigated it more than you can possibly imagine. So please stop saying it. Throwing out cheap-ass clichés that someone else came up with does not make you sound intelligent or witty. It makes you sound stupid. Stop doing it.

The truth is, I have probably investigated your religion (whichever it is) more than you have. You stopped looking into it — with the kind of urgency I have — when you began to believe it (probably at birth, when your parents told you what your religion is). You stop looking for something when you find it. Duh! I’ve never found what I’m looking for so I’ll probably never stop looking.

That’s OK, though. Just because I haven’t found God doesn’t mean I’m not as sober as you or that I’ll drink tomorrow. Quite the opposite! The reading from “How It Works” ends with “God could and would if he were sought”, not “found”. I’m still seeking, so maybe you’re the one in danger! You’re not looking anymore.

You can say all you want that I’m choosing not to believe these things, but I truly do not have a choice in the matter. My mind does not have the ability to control my mind. Sorry! I know how you people do, though; you people can stop thinking about anything you want, whenever you want, right? If you folks decide that the person you’re in love with is just not good for you — and you have to break up — you just do it and you never think about them again. Three days later you can’t remember their name on a bet! The only song on the radio you sing along with is:

”Ever since she left I ain’t been the same.
And I’ll never forget old ‘What’s her name’…”

If someone I love dies, I may think about them for a month or more. Or a decade. Sometimes — even though I know they are gone and that it won’t help me to think about them — I still think about them a lot. So, really, if I can’t control who I love and who I think about, do you really think I can choose what I believe?

I say this out loud because some of you say out loud that people can’t stay sober without having a Higher Power. It’s not true. Stop saying it. You couldn’t, but I have. There may come a man who matters. He may come here in complete despair. He may not be able to do business with God right now. If he believes we cannot help him he may leave. He may die.

Not on my shift. Not on my shift, motherfuckers. Nobody has to die. We can meet them where they are. We can help anyone. Stop saying it!

I say this with all conviction: If you can’t believe in God — or even in A.A. — because they’re way too complex and incomprehensible, believe this. A faith-less fool like me has gone all day without a drink. You can, too.


* Page 15 of the Big Book says “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.”

Page 35 of the Big Book says “… but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life… he found himself drunk…”

This entry was posted in Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What I choose to believe

  1. LOVE this one Jim Toler!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!! Really great……..

  2. And again…..just what I needed to read again…..you tell a fine story and make a great point……

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