Thought of the Day: Struggle, Meaning, and Finding Your Higher Power

I slept for 14 hours last night.

Like I said, I work a strenuous job overnights. It kicks my ass, but it’s getting me back into shape. And I’ve been sore all week, but after long, LONG, night’s rest I feel completely regenerated.

But usually in such deep sleep, dreams can become quite strange. And VIVID.

I can’t say I ever have reoccurring dreams. But I do have dreams that occur at similar locations that probably don’t exist in real life. Yet more alarmingly, I have dreams of similar THEMES.

I’m almost always lost and trying to find my way somewhere. That’s the most common theme. But there’s a far stranger one that pops up on occasion: an unseen force tempting me to curse God.

Yet I never succumb to this temptation.

I’m not a religious person. Sure, I’ve had my phases. But in my adult life I’ve been largely uninterested, or ambivalent at best, about the existence of God. Yet somewhere in my subconscious, questions still arise.

I attended a Bible-thumping Baptist high school. I attended a religious institution for college. I have a largely religious education. So that would explain a lot of this.

But since graduating, I just haven’t cared. In my philosophical pursuits, I’ve concluded that if such a Being exists, that It would be so far outside our phenomenological field that we couldn’t know anything about It. It would be like an ant trying to comprehend our existence. It just wouldn’t be possible, and it’s highly illogical to think that this Being or Beings would have communicated to us through ancient texts. So I’ve largely abandoned the question of God’s existence.

Yet, the question lingers.

I’ve discussed before how the most contentious part of Alcoholics Anonymous is finding your “higher power”. I’m sure that step is the reason why many don’t find the program palatable. But there are many others that pridefully claim that they’ve never once struggled with their faith.

Perhaps I’ve always favored an existentialist interpretation of Jesus Christ. Think Nikos Kazantzakis’ The Last Temptation of Christ, which portrayed Christ as a figure that struggled with his own faith and the role He had to play. The fact that Jesus went through with His mission, despite His doubts and struggles, is the true triumph.

(For the record, I never read the book. Just saw the movie and sort of put it together)

In Kazantzakis’ story, Christ was more than just a blind follower. He had his doubts, angst, and struggles like everyone else. He was, at least according to the Gospels, both fully God and fully MAN. That part gets conveniently glossed over because it ignores the fact that Jesus too faced the same temptations and questions that all of mankind faces. That’s what it means to be human. That’s what makes Jesus Christ’s story much more meaningful.

That’s the triumph of faith.

Although I claim that I’ve found my “higher power” within AA, I actually just glossed over it. I honest don’t even know what that means to me yet. So I guess that I haven’t passed Step 2.

Many agnostics and atheists simply use “the group” as their “higher power”. Whatever works, I guess. But that doesn’t quite work for me. The group won’t keep me sober. Some supernatural force that I don’t believe in won’t keep me sober. Only I can keep me sober. So am I my own “higher power”?

That doesn’t make any sense. (Plus that’s doomed to fail)

So I’m back to struggling with my pseudo-philosophical pursuit for the existence of God. Clearly my subconscious believes in this Higher Power, but my active mind can’t reconcile with it. It’s been burned out and made cynical through its many ponderings and disappointments.

But without struggle, there can be no REAL faith.

A person that went their whole life without questioning the beliefs handed to them will have no understanding of what that faith means to them. Their faith is frail and shallow. But the person that had to endure the doubt and temptation will find that their faith is the strongest.

I don’t know, maybe I’m struggling to find meaning where none exists. Maybe my brain is just firing random neurons when I dream. Maybe I’m just motivated by fear. Who knows?

But it’s through the struggle where we find meaning.

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