Asking God for signs and other dubious undertakings

I love talking about spirituality and the things that bring meaning, passion, and purpose to people’s lives. Doing this as a clinician invites a lot of questions about God, the Universe, and Everything.

I’m no expert on faith – I’m pretty sure that’s an oxymoron. I do enjoy people like Anne Lamott and Richard Rohr who seem to have some pretty great ideas about people loving each other more.

I talk to folks who are trying to “find the answers” but they’re asking questions that people have asked for thousands of years. I tell them they get to pick what works for them. This is scary because faith is the most personal of choices.

Most of us are afraid to choose. We’re anxious – if we get it wrong, we’ll end up in an eternity of hell fire that an all loving, all forgiving God created for people like me who make a ton of bad choices.

I just don’t buy it.

I don’t believe in hell as an afterlife. I believe in the kind of hell that Pat Benatar sang about in “Hell is for children.”  I spend my days trying to help folks get out of very personal forms of hell like addiction and trauma.

My efforts are geared toward helping people believe in themselves but in the context of recovery, I know that having a Higher Power makes all the difference. That can be anything – whatever works for you, but when asked, I’m happy to share the answers that work for me.

I have the simplest belief system. I believe there is Something, that It cares about us. So, I talk to It. In the worst-case scenario, I’m only talking to myself which is still a healthy thing to do.

I ask my HP for peace, love, grace, and to be of service to others. I keep getting those things. To the skeptic, I am mindful and my efforts are geared consciously to seek what I most want. To those with any type of faith, something more powerful than me is running the show and saving me from myself.

My favorite question:

“How do you know what your Higher Power wants you to do?”

The short answer is, “It starts out subtly and culminates in the 2×4 approach.”

Everything I have ever felt My HP calling me to do is at least two solid steps outside of my current comfort zone. This scares me, so I pretend I don’t notice it. The message will be presented over and over again until it brings me to my knees.

So, I try to go there voluntarily instead of getting knocked there.

I know that I need to be connected to people like me because that’s the easiest and quickest way for my HP to teach and direct me. I still don’t have a burning bush. If ever I see one and it speaks to me, I think it far more likely that I require psychiatric hospitalization than it is that God is speaking directly to me.

To grow spiritually in my experience is to have an increasingly weird life in which you spend a lot of time with delightfully f’ed up people doing amazing things.

It’s much easier to doubt than it is to believe. It’s much easier to believe you’re doing it wrong than it is to believe God is working in your life. My best advice is to follow your intuition – your “gut feelings.” I am convinced that while my head gets confused and my heart sometimes lies, my gut is connected to my HP.

Listen for what resonates. Notice the coincidences. If it falls into your lap and it’s good then it’s from God. The key is to not get stuck in trying to understand your HP but rather to focus on experiencing your HP.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.