Restored to Sanity

Jun 21, 2023 | 4 comments

-by Peggy Hahn (She/Her), Executive Director of LEAD

The second step of Al-Anon (and AA) is this: “Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (The Twelve Steps | Al-Anon Family Groups)

In the world of mental health concerns, the relationship between my Higher Power and sanity feels so odd until you lean into the idea for a few weeks. My Higher Power is The Trinity. My beliefs have been formed since birth by parents who did all the right things. They taught us to pray, read the Bible, talk about our faith, took us to church, etc.

Were they hopeful for sanity? Probably not. Church was a culture that we shared. God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit, the Trinity, was always there but somehow also invisible.

There was a pivot in my faith life that started before my first trip to El Salvador. It began in 1992, as I read Pastor Dan Long’s letters about the civil war in that country. I don’t think I had ever really understood war. I took up his invitation to go to El Salvador, to meet the God the people worshiped as they hung on to life during this horrible time. Were they hopeful for sanity? Absolutely. God, Jesus, The Holy Spirt were tangible as they showed me the bullet holes on the side of their house or took me to the site of the massacre of El Mozote in 1981, (the year my daughter was born) or to the site of the assassination of Oscar Romero while serving communion a year earlier. Sanity was in short supply. God was everywhere.

It will take me the rest of my life to reconcile these two different ways of knowing God – the God who feels a little boring at church, who people can’t seem to make time for when life is good, and the God who doesn’t let you go when life is hard.

Going through a divorce 24 years ago, I needed the God I met in El Salvador.

Watching my son’s disease progress as an alcoholic, I know I still need this God.

Sanity through faith in God is what happens when life is too hard to bring any of your own power to the situation. This is the kind of restoration we all need.


  1. Melissa Wiginton

    I am really taken with the phrase “when life is too hard to bring any of your own power to the situation.” It reminds me that there are those times—and that is okay. And then the faith can do it’s work. Thanks, Peggy.

  2. Don Wheeler, Ph.D.

    Thank you Peggy, for your sharing here and your leadership and work at LEAD. It is a strength to me shared by a Chautauqua buddy who is Lutheran and I an American Baptist, Rev Albert Nelson. Thank you Al!

    I am on that journey with my son, and I know how fortunate he is to have your love and support on what I hope will be toward having a sponsor whose directions he follows, going to rehab (s), going to meetings and steps, and having direct support from a loving family. Then God can work with him as the trinitarian God you love transforms you, and us through you— then he has a chance, I pray he makes it, again and again, and gets more and more freedom- that comes from God whether he knows it, wants it consciously or not! God bless you in you continuing Ministries! Don

  3. Joyce

    Thank you! I understand the pain and grief of divorce after 23 years of marriage and loving an adult child living life as a recovering substance abuser. Many times there is only one set of “footsteps in the sand”.

  4. akuol

    It is very difficult to deal with brokenness in relationship! Thank you, Peggy, yes, “My Higher Power is The Trinity.” God is the only one who give power to deal with those situations!


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