I have been challenged this month to write prayers to God. My task is to practice being completely honest, not only sharing my deep moments of gratitude, but to share those moments when I want to say, “Where the he** are you?” As a child, I was taught that God was right next to me whenever I needed him and that all I had to do was ask. The problem was that I asked and either didn’t receive the answer I wanted, or I didn’t listen to the answer at all. When I received the “right” answer, I never looked at it as a gift from God, but that I was either lucky or right.

I hate not getting the right answer. But more than that, I hate to wait. As I grew up and my parents were no longer guiding me to pray, I stopped praying altogether, except when I was either in dire need of help, or I was overwhelmed with worry or sadness. Praying became my last resort. When my drinking life turned toward shame and deep disappointment in myself, I blamed God. And prayed even less.

I started to pray again when my body started telling me how sick I was. I’d pray, asking for help. Please help me drink less. Or please stop my body from needing alcohol. Please stop the shaking. I asked God to heal what was going on inside my stomach; to rid me of the aches and the more embarrassing ways my body was reacting to having so much poison in my system. Nothing changed — and once again I thought that God wasn’t listening. Today looking back, I can say that at least I loved myself enough to pray. “God, please let me survive the night. Please don’t let me die. Keep me alive until the morning.” My thanks to God in the morning for allowing me to live another day, was to drink.

When you know better, you do better
Maya Angelou

Today I’m on a very personal journey in my relationship with God. Now I know that God is Love. Complete, whole, never-ending Love. It is a love that I must always strive to give myself and to others. A love that holds no boundaries or rules of acceptance. It’s also a love that doesn’t judge me for my past, but holds me accountable for every moment now.

I believe there is a light that shines inside each of our hearts. The light can either be dull or bright, depending on how we are living each moment. If I were to turn back time and choose to live the life that I did in the past, drinking, partying, acting against all my values, the light would still be there, but I would have to dig deep to find it.

When I began to recover, when I put the bottle down, the light started to shine brighter. I could begin to focus on gratitude. I noticed the small things, like the heat of the sun, or the fresh smell of a good cup of hot coffee in the morning. Love for myself started to grow.

Every day I learn more about praying. I practice being honest in my love for myself and others. When fear rears its ugly head, I find ways to talk honestly to God about it. First, I ask God to take away my fears. And then I move to asking Him to show me how to become stronger so that I can face my fears with courage. I am learning to ask the tough questions: What am I truly frightened of? How can I face the fear and not run away? Since the opposite of fear is Love, I pray for permission to love my way out of fear and to shine bright from the inside out. I pray that we all will find our way to Love. Love is God and God is Love.