Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth, to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him. Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used our own conception, however limited it was. We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. - "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.

A.A. Big Book, p. 47

Comments from Websites and Publications

Step 2 is a step of hope, faith and realization. It is a big step towards God. In spite of all of the failures in my own life - all of the broken promises, hard feelings, disappointments, failures, destructive behavior, hatred, anxiety, depression or guilt in my life - there is still hope. There is hope because there is a Power greater than myself. And this Power has the ability to restore my life to a life where there is freedom from the insanity of addictive behaviors. I begin to realize that such a Power exists and this Power is able to set me on the road to recovery and freedom.


Therefore, Step Two is the rallying point for all of us. Whether agnostic, atheist, or former believer, we can stand together on this Step. True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every A.A. meeting is an assurance that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate ourselves to Him.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 33

Through believing that a Higher Power can help, a man or a woman formerly eaten up with raging fear, anger, shame, doubt, guilt, and frustration may become calm and begin to grow spiritually by focusing on doing some simple steps, going to meetings, reading the Big Book, and talking to a sponsor. This person is not alone; there are other caring brothers and sisters who really do understand because they are dealing with the same problems the newcomer has. The simple act of believing that a Higher Power can restore us to sanity leads us into a family and into a new life where we can begin to see and experience a little sanity.

A Hunger for Healing, p. 35

The process of coming to believe is something that we seem to experience in similar ways. One thing most of us lacked was a working relationship with a Higher Power. We begin to develop this relationship by simply admitting to the possibility of a Power greater than ourselves. Most of us have no trouble admitting that addiction had become a destructive force in our lives. Our best efforts resulted in ever greater destruction and despair. At some point we realized we needed the help of some Power greater than our addiction. Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us. No one is going to decide for us. We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God. The only suggested guidelines are that this Power be loving, caring and greater than ourselves. We don't have to be religious to accept this idea. The point is that we open our minds to believe. We may have difficulty with this, but by keeping an open mind, sooner or later, we find the help we need.

Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 2

The Step 2 phrase "came to believe" suggests a process and a progression of faith that evolves over time. A portion of A.A.'s oral tradition defines this as a three-part unfolding: First, we came, that is, we showed up and stumbled in the door. Second, we came to, that is, we sobered up, came to our senses, and began to experience emotional sobriety. Third, we came to believe. We began our real recovery process and our spiritual growth.

Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 29

True relationships teach us that we can trust others, that we are lovable and that sometimes we must take care of ourselves. As we gain friends who can help us get through and even enjoy most days, we feel ready to trust ourselves again.

As you keep faith with this process you will discover the joys of finding common ground, unconditional love, and a magical sense of connectedness that will leave you as high as any drug, drink or new dress.

The Twelve Step Journal, p. 69

We prepare for Step Two by acknowledging that we don't know everything about our Higher Power. Many of us have a distorted view of God. Although we are not quick to admit it, we may believe that God is like our abusive or absent parents or significant others. We may believe that God doesn't care about how we feel, that he is cruel and waiting to judge us. We may have been threatened with God's punishment all our lives. "The distorted images that parents place in our hearts and minds carry directly over to our image of God. We grow up feeling that God sees us as our parents did. And so, we grow up seeing ourselves and our God through distorted eyes." Preparing for Step Two requires that we set aside our old images and mistaken beliefs about God. For now we simply hold on to the words of A.A.'s Second Tradition, "...there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God..."

The Twelve Steps, A Spiritual Journey, p. 43-44

The beauty of the Second Step is revealed when we begin to think about what our Higher Power can be. We are encouraged to choose a Power that is loving, caring, and - most importantly - able to restore us to sanity. The Second Step does not say, "We came to believe in a Power greater than ourselves." It says, "We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." The emphasis is not on who or what this Power is, but on what this Power can do for us. The group itself certainly qualifies as a Power greater than ourselves. So do the spiritual principles contained in the Twelve Steps. And, of course, so does the understanding any one of our individual members has of a Higher Power. As we stay clean and continue to work this step, we discover that no matter how long our addiction has gone on and how far our insanity has progressed, there's no limit to the ability of a Power greater than ourselves to restore our sanity.

Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides, p. 11

The final controversy in Step 2 is in the use of the phrase "restore us to sanity". Is the alcoholic mentally ill? If so, what is the nature of this illness? For most addicts and alcoholics, the absurdity of their situation is no secret - they are compelled to continue self-destructive and unsatisfying behaviors even while recognizing that these are not what they wish to do (recall the concept of powerlessness). What could be more insane than continuing to inject oneself with poison? The use of defense mechanisms, denial, and distorted thinking are all evidence of an irrational mind-set.

However, this can be a focal type of insanity. This insanity primarily pertains to the addict's relationship to the drug of choice and to the ancillary behaviors. Most alcoholics and addicts encounter moments of violating one or more of their "I never" rules: I never steal from my family, never lie, never cheat. As these personal mores are violated, one can easily view this as a clear form of insanity. In other ways, alcoholics and addicts may be able to function normally and think rationally; however, in areas that are directly or indirectly connected to their addiction, their thinking is dangerously skewed.

A Clinician's Guide to 12 Step Recovery, p. 42