Working with a new guy in the fellowship is a privilege never to be taken lightly. I have been blessed many times with this challenge sometimes successfully, other times not so successfully. Having pulled back in recent years from a rigorous association with Alcoholics Anonymous and focusing on a church affiliation, I was somewhat cautious about once again extending myself to a young, homeless man who chose me to help him. In retrospect I know that it was God leading this broken man to me. In all the times of reaching out to another alcoholic, it was I who received the blessing and it was I who stayed sober regardless of what my newbie did.
I am not a young man full of energy these days. My afternoon naps are important to me and bedtime seems to crawl upon me earlier in the evening. Habits and routine have made life more manageable. Therefore, adjusting my schedule to meet the needs of someone who believes I can guide him through the craziness of early sobriety does not come easy. I still remember the powerful healing days of early AA fellowship, meeting new friends, giving up old friends, doing 90 meetings in 90 days, and forging a life which before was unimaginable. But then that voice from within said, “Larry, it’s time to refresh yourself in Alcoholics Anonymous, to recommit to the program. Do 90 in 90.”
“Oh no,” was my first response. ” I don’t have the time.”
“Really? I gave your life back to you when you were a basket case. I sat up with you when you spent nights in sheer terror afraid you were going crazy. I brought you through the valley of the shadows. And you don’t have time?”
My Higher Power settled that argument without further dispute. Now, you all need to understand that although patience is a virtue, it is not always readily available. Sometimes, especially for an old man, it is in short supply. My new protégé is someone I have known for several years who recently suffered reversals in life which, hopefully, brought him to his ‘bottom’. And because we have been friends, the conversation is usually free-flowing and lively. Sometimes it gets out of hand. As most of you know, I am still a broken vessel needing a lot of healing and mending. My mouth still opens before the brain is engaged and, as happened a few days ago, words which were not of a spiritual nature flowed freely. Ouch!
After a few solitary hours in my private attitude adjusting cubicle, I offered a sincere apology, a hug, and a promise to count to 10 before offering my lame – brain diatribes. It is once again “well with my soul” and peaceful in my household. But, that’s the beauty of sober living. We can be honest, we can argue, we can disagree, we can yell and then promptly make amends.
It’s the yelling part that concerns me because that was a strong feature of my active alcoholism. Just flying off the handle over stupid stuff, being irrational and abrasive is not who the sober Larry wants to be. Wisdom gleaned from the literature of AA and Christian scriptures warns me of the consequences of a mouth which spews indiscriminately. I believe during the next few months of readjusting my life to the needs of someone who is reaching out, I will need these readings more often.
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” James 3:10-12
“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
“A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.” Proverbs 18:6
“If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the sudden rage were not for us. Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but not for us alcoholics. It is poison.” Bill Wilson AS BILL SEES IT pg 5