Last week, I got a call from a woman who attends one of the meetings I attend. She was looking for a sponsor. When I shared, she said, she heard a lot of peace and not a lot of rigidity. That was important. She found rigidity unattractive. So I imagine she was surprised to hear my program is all about discipline.
A few years ago, I hiked the Grand Canyon three times. The first two times, I was well prepared, and I enjoyed it. The third time, I hadn’t exercised as strenuously. I had injured my foot and was worried that I might not be able to make the planned hike at all if didn’t give it time to heal.
The difference took me by surprise.
When I was prepared, I was the hike left me with a sense of accomplishment and wonder. When I wasn’t, I felt imprisoned by my body. I couldn’t focus on anything but how crappy I felt. And once at the bottom of the Canyon, there was only one way out. It was a misery.
I think of recovery as exercising my spiritual muscles so I can enjoy the journey. When I pray, meditate and do my Al-Anon readings first thing in the morning, my day go easier. When I do this every day, my life goes better.
I attend at least two committed meetings every week unless I’m sick or out of town. I have a home group where I take a service commitment and when the term my commitment is up, I take a different position. I write a gratitude list every day. I call my sponsor every week, and work the steps again and again.
I expect the same from the women I sponsor.
I do these things faithfully. Call me rigid. In my slavish devotion to this routine, I’ve become free.
My sponsor is fond of saying, “We are not bad people, we are undisciplined.”
Recovery gives us discipline.
I think of small children who are undisciplined. They are not happy children. The storms of their emotions blow them about; they are slaves to every feeling.
When I don’t do the things I’ve been taught to do in this program every day, I start to feel like an undisciplined child. Little things bother me. I’m restless, irritable and discontent. I’m not happy.
When you bring a baby home from the hospital, you always set it down in the middle of the bed so it doesn’t fall off. When I was new, my sponsor put me “in the middle of the bed” by telling me that she was very happy to work with me as long as was willing to work the program. If I wanted what she had, then I had to do what she did.
Over the years, I’ve seen what happens when people start letting these things go. They skip a meeting, a reading, a call. They get closer to the edge of the bed. And sometimes they fall off.
So I choose to stay in the middle, practicing my program with discipline. And the funny thing about that is that it has set me free.
I think life is a lot like hiking the Grand Canyon. There’s only one way to get to the other side. The journey can be full of wonders or it can be a misery. It all depends on my level of spiritual fitness. And takes discipline.
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