I was glad to see two more inmates at our prison meeting last night. That made three, so there were at least more inmates than Al-Anon volunteers.
It was a good meeting.
Last month, my Al-Anon partner decided it might help to turn control of the meeting over to the inmates. So she gave a folder to the one inmate who attended our last meeting and that inmate seems to have taken her responsibility seriously.
Apparently, on another Monday, the Al-Anon volunteers didn’t come, so she held the meeting herself, with one other inmate.
It’s a humble beginning. But it’s a beginning. And there’s nothing wrong with humble.
I thought last night’s meeting was a good one. There was discussion on a number of topics, but it seemed that the common thread was fear.
I have heard fear described as a primary emotion, and that strikes me as true.
When I have any number of other emotions—resentment, anger—fear is what’s really at the bottom of all of it.
It makes sense to me that the daily inventory that was handed down through my line of sponsorship involves writing five things I’m grateful for and five things I fear every day, because those are two of the biggest things I struggle with as an Al-Anon, and they work in opposition to each other.
What I’ve come to believe in this program is that fear is simply a lack of faith. Because if I believe that God is in charge, that he knows what’s best for me, and that he has arranged everything in my life for my benefit. More than that, if I believe that he has arranged everything in the lives of everyone I love in the same way… Then I cannot be in fear. The only possible response is gratitude.
So for me, fear and gratitude are opposites, and the key to both is faith.
Faith is the greatest gift I’ve received in this program.
Of course, I didn’t just tell myself that one day and believe it. I’ve found that faith and gratitude are like muscles. They get stronger the more they are exercised. So I exercise them daily. I exercise my gratitude muscle with daily prayers of gratitude and with a written gratitude list.
I exercise my faith on my knees and in meditation. I exercised my faith by behaving as if I believed these things, and I found one day that I did. Because the other thing that I learned in this program is that I have to take actions for the feelings to follow. First, I had to try. Then I believed.