“A mystery that we each explore, finding our own answers and connections. Spirituality is a very personal issue, so we approach it respecting each person's experience and chosen path.” –RI International Peer Employment Training

I had a time in my recovery when I felt I had been completely abandoned by the “God of my understanding.” I was finished with that God.  Through my recovery, I came to understand God in a different way, both ways broadening my awareness. One person’s higher power can be a trigger to someone else’s understanding. The conditioning around what we witnessed, were taught, and our personal experiences of a higher power varies tremendously. “Respecting each person’s experience and chosen path” creates more love, peace, forgiveness, and compassion leading to oneness vs. division. It creates curiosity and opportunities to expand the box we often hold our higher power in.

At one time, I worked with at-risk kids that were failing traditional schools. I’ll never forget a young man I worked with because he shared his dad regularly beat him while reading the Bible. The “God of his understanding” at that time was abusive and equated with trauma for him. Why would he want to have a relationship with that person or being? Yet, as I spent time with and witnessed him, he began to respond to loving compassion!

The God I knew early in recovery wasn’t working. My old religious conditioning created judgement of others as to whether they were on the right or wrong path – the “who’s in and who’s out” mentality. I am now able to enjoy hearing about the God of others’ understanding, and appreciate where we converge through oneness. This only happened because, like the young man, my first understanding of God had to not work for me, so that grace and mercy could create a new understanding.

As this understanding changed, part of how I reflected it was in the way I referred to God. In the beginning of my recovery, I often chose “Ultimate Caregiver.” Another favorite is “Love” or “Loving Presence.” Like the facets of a diamond showing another beautiful perspective of the whole, I never tire of the many names. I now enjoy a diversity of opportunities for expressing my spiritual pathway. It’s never static, rather always mystically unfolding.

Do you have a yearning inside for something more or greater than yourself? Ask for it to be shown to you. It won’t be shown to you exactly like anyone else, and that’s because it meets you right where you are!

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.