I received an email today that a bid I put out on a job was respectfully declined. It had the potential to be a really good gig – long term, diverse work which would have provided me nearly 30% of the income I enjoyed when I was working full time. On top of my other consulting work and teaching, it would have made for a very lucrative deal. I was excited about the organization, as well – a very reputable non-profit that does an enormous amount of good in the community. I had put a lot of thought into the proposal and felt like it was competitive and fully met their needs while also honoring the value I believe I have to offer.
So when I got the email saying they had gone a different direction, of course I was a little disappointed. I considered responding back (respectfully, of course) asking for details about why my proposal was declined. Was it the cost? My stated availability? Did they think the other organization was better than me? In the end, though, I simply thanked them for getting back to me, offered up my services if ever needed in the future, and wished them luck. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that if it was meant to be, it would have happened.
I am not religious by any means. While I’ve attended church off and on since childhood, I always felt a little bit like an imposter. As a young girl in Sunday school, I used to drive the teachers crazy by constantly asking, “But how do you KNOW?” in my imploring little annoying voice. I was a broken record of skepticism and doubt. And I was shamed for it; often times removed from the lesson for my persistently disruptive questions. As an adult, I never found a church or a program where I really felt relaxed and at home, and I think it was because I never really bought into the humanized concept of the “great being in the sky” who is omnipotent and omnipresent.
When I was actively drinking, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about God. I couldn’t, I was either too busy thinking about getting soused, actively getting soused, or hiding the negative effects of constantly being soused had on my life. When I started to get sober, however, I thought a LOT about God because in AA… well, it was a topic of conversation. One that I really didn’t want to have. In my early days in AA, I felt much like I did in church whenever the concept of the Higher Power came up – slightly uncomfortable and like I shouldn’t be there. It wasn’t until I was maybe 30 days sober that I could even wrap my mind around differentiating “God” and “Higher Power” and even then, I wasn’t sure what I would even DO with it.
One day, on my daily commute to the soul-sucking job I’ve since left, it finally hit me, a cool breeze that crops up on a stifling day – my Higher Power didn’t have to be some anthropomorphic representation of a human who had already written my story and now just watched over me to nod and say, “I told you so.” My Higher Power was natural order. Harmony. That sense that whatever is supposed to happen, happens. Not because free will doesn’t exist, but precisely BECAUSE free will exists. My Higher Power is like a kind friend who doesn’t want to come right out and tell me to stop being a shit and just do the thing. My Higher Power is the friend who will gently suggest a course and then hold my hand and jump off the cliff with me, even if they felt there was a better way.
My Higher Power is that thing that always made sure a little money would materialize when I was flat-ass broke and my water was turned off. Some unremembered loan would come due or a bonus would materialize. Heck, one time I was one day from pay-day with literally no food in the kitchen and found a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk that fed me until I could cash my check the next day. This same force brought me and my husband back together years after we had dated, in a magical, “Notebook”-inspired fairytale manner. And, when I finally decided I couldn’t continue to drink any more but didn’t know what to do, my Higher Power led me to podcasts – something I’d never experimented with before. The first podcast I found (hailing from a state I’d never visited) led me to an old classmate who had been interviewed about getting sober. That classmate, who I reached out to, encouraged me to attend my first AA meeting. How’s that for a sense of humor?
So, when I think about my Higher Power, I don’t see a man, or a woman, or even a smiling dog. I don’t see anything. I FEEL balance and peace and symmetry. And I know, for the first time in my entire adult life, that whatever happens, is supposed to happen. If I get the job, I’m supposed to get the job. If I don’t get the job, it’s because there’s something else I’m supposed to be doing. In this case, the job would have been nice – a hefty addition to my still meager income. But I can only assume that not getting it meant it wasn’t the right time or the right opportunity and that something else will be coming my way now because there’s still space for it. My Higher Power, in essence, is that soft whisper from my heart that says, “I got this.”