What was my understanding of a Higher Power when I first came to Al- Anon?
Fuzzy at best. I had some sort of spiritual belief, but I was good without God, especially the Judeochristian God.
I believed there was some sort of guardian or deity out there. "he/ she/ it/ they, I don't care." I didn't believe in a personal god, but at the same time I did. I think I envisioned God in much the same way my parents acted: helpful in moments of extremes, but usually pretty hands off and inaccessible. The insistence of God the Father or Goddess the Mother really didn't help. Why would I want some ethereal parent to do the same damn thing my parents did: punish me when I was bad, offer me some vague platitude of "yay" when I accomplish something, and ignore me most of the time. "A loving God is always in your life." Yeah fucking right. Nobody is always there for me, and God seemed not to hear my pleas. Even when he sent me what I most wanted and most feared (A CPS investigator), I chickened out (and coerced my youngest sister to corroborate what I said) and blamed God for not sending a good one. God the Son, who died to abolish my sins before I did them? Pfeh. A joke. No one can remove everything I've done wrong. That's too big a list and some of them are too big (and too deep) to just be forgiven. I kept my sins in an ongoing mental list, everything I did wrong, everything I fucked up. I absorbed other people's sins to be my own, as obviously they weren't doing anything about it. I was fucked up, just pin another sin on the scapegoat and send it to it's happy death. God the Spirit was a cop out, in my eyes. It was just another name for the God I had vetoed, the one that wouldn't hear my pleas or couldn't do anything, hardly a worthy God.
I chucked that God out of my life. I still vaguely believed in God, just not that one. More some all encompassing spark of life and energy. The Universe (or 'Verse, ala Firefly.) The All, ala Wicca. Nothing you really prayed to or beseeched for anything, more something that was always there and that worked you to your final destiny. I believed in destiny, but not fate or predetermination. You had a clearing at the end of your path, some final lesson, but how you got there was your own business. In my darkest or most painful moments, I would get horribly close to prayer, a "God, please, please, God," begging for release from whatever I had done to myself.
How has my understanding of God changed over time?
I still believe in the 'Verse, the All. I've incorporated bits and pieces from what I read and experience. "Thou art God," after all. The power in the 'Verse, God, if you will, is like a great furnace. What I have is like the pilot light for that furnace. If I blow it out, God appears to vanish. The instant I relight it, God reappears. God has never vanished. He seems to go into nothingness, but there is still gas, waiting for a spark. God is within you and outside of you. You are God, I am God, everything with a life is God. I don't grok God, but I have a fair understanding. I don't know that it's within human capacity to grok God. There are just too many facets to that diamond to see them all in one lifetime. But by being loving, compassionate, and serene, you can feel God and be God.