Thursday, April 11, 2013

Step 2: Filling the God-Sized Hole

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In recovery, there is often reference to what is called a "God-sized hole."  What is being referred to is the space inside us where we feel our emptiness and loneliness most acutely.  This is the space that we often attempt to fill up with our addiction of choice - whether that is through alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, or whatever compulsive behavior it is that we find most troubling.  It is referred to as a "God-sized Hole," because none of those other things can fill that void.  The only thing that can fill that void is our Higher Power.

For this project, I asked the group to use a box as a representation of their "God-sized Hole" and to fill it with representations of their Higher Power and/or of their recovery. This activity was inspired by artwork that can be found in a multitude of cultures - some refer to these boxes as nicho, retablo, or in secular culture, assemblage.

Alternatively, I invited the group to create more of a diorama or ex-voto, depicting a scene that highlights a miracle they have received as part of their recovery.


  • cigar boxes (or similar)
  • gold spray paint (or paint of another color if you prefer) and old newspaper or another protective surface for painting onto
  • found objects from nature, spiritual objects, recovery stickers or any other items that can be used to represent your Higher Power

Some of the boxes were in better condition than others.  Some I was able to provide to the group without modifying them.  But for the large number of boxes that contained text or images that did not seem in alignment with the project.  I spray-painted these boxes with gold spray paint.I picked up a bunch of old cigar boxes and other boxes that I thought could serve well as a medium from which to create a "God-sized Hole."

Some of the boxes were in better condition than others.  Some I was able to provide to the group without modifying them.  But a large number of boxes contained text or images that did not seem in alignment with the project.  I spray-painted these boxes with gold spray paint.

For my purposes, I used Rustoleum gold, as that is the spray paint I had on hand.  But any type of paint will do, so long as you paint enough layers to cover the underlying text and/or images.

I recommend examining all sides of the boxes, including the insides. Some of my boxes only needed paint on 5 sides, but several had print and images inside the box, so I painted their insides as well.

Here is how they looked after their initial coats of paint.  The box in the very front needed a little extra paint where you can see the underlying black showing through.  Alternatively, you can paint a primer white over the boxes before using the colored paint, but I just doubled up on the gold paint in these areas.

Then, I provided a variety of "God-oriented" artifacts that could be used to decorate the interior of the box.  I tried to be as inclusive of as many religious affiliations as possible, as well as include artifacts that would be appreciated by both the atheists and pagans in our group.  The inexpensive objects I provided included:

One could use whatever symbolism they choose that feels like the best reflection of their Higher Power.  Your representation may be something entirely different than anything on this list.

Here is the God-Sized Hole box I ended up creating.  The butterfly plays the central role of the box, as I have relied heavily on the butterfly's representation of metamorphosis and change to remind me of the better things to come as I continue in my recovery.  The beads in the bottom of the box, below the butterfly are prayer beads I picked up while traveling in Egypt.

On the inside of the box door, I have Kwan-Yin to remind me to be compassionate with both myself and others.  And the labyrinth around and leading to Kwan-Yin, reminds me to meditate and maintain conscious contact with my Higher Power.

I put an abundance of butterflies on the front of the door to the box to represent the many miracles I have seen manifested in my life through my practice of the 12 steps in various programs.

What will you use to fill up your God-sized hole?

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