Fear and love – according to my sponsor, when it all boils down, they are the only two choices we have in life. And as he likes to say to me, “make no mistake, we are the ones who do the choosing, not anybody else and not the God of our understanding either.”
And come to think of it, he’s been right so far. I came into AA full of fear and though I’m not a model for living a life full of love without any fear at present, AA has certainly given me the tools to choose love over fear more often than not in my daily living. Every time I hear the Promises read at a meeting, deep down inside me I know they have been coming true in my life and when I interview guests for this podcast, I can hear it in their voices and their stories – the Promises have been coming true in their lives as well. In taking the Twelve Steps and continuing to practice them, we face the past and we bring it to light – there is no more need of fear because the Steps are designed to help us live in the present as best we can, with an attitude of love – the kind that is grateful and giving. The Steps also help us to act right today, so that tomorrow will take care of itself and therefore there is no more need of fear.
I think it’s important to ask myself then: Do I choose love instead of fear in my running? How am I doing as a sober member of AA when it comes to my running? Do I treat my running as a proving ground for my worth? Do I line up at a race and look down my nose at my competitors? Do I talk about my running in a humble way, acknowledging that it’s a gift from my Creator? Do I give back to the running community? Am I afraid of injury and of taking risks in my running to make long-term improvements? Do I sacrifice too much time with my loved ones to pursue faster times? These questions and more remind us of the daily inventory suggested in our Big Book: “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life?” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 86).
My sponsor said this to me early on in my sobriety: “If you put even half the effort into The Steps that you do into your long distance running, I promise you that good things will come to pass for you. Use the stubbornness and the stick-to-it-ness of your running and alcoholism and apply it to this program and I guarantee that changes for the better will happen.” You see, I chose to drink excessively for twenty plus years – I used my will power in all the wrong ways, but now I have the chance to use my will power for good and not destruction. Let’s face it: those of us in recovery who are in the long distance running world are creatures of excess and of “extreme self-will run riot,” but let us align our wills with God’s will as best we can so that our pursuit and experience of running is one that inspires others and is an example of “attraction rather than promotion.” May we give thanks for these gifts of sobriety and running each day and may “our Steps” lead us to change in ourselves so that we are an open channel of change for others.
AA Grapevine’s “At Wit’s End” Joke of the Month
“A drunk walks into a bar, sits down and demands a drink. “Get out” says the bartender. “I don’t serve drunks here”. The drunk staggers out the front door, only to come back in through the side door. He sits at the bar, bangs his fist and demands a drink. “I just told you to get out, didn’t I? Now LEAVE!”. The drunk gets off his stool, stumbles out the side door and, comes back inside through the back door. Once again, he sits at the bar and loudly asks for a drink. The bartender, now glowing mad, looks at the drunk and yells “I TOLD YOU, NO DRUNKS ALLOWED, NOW GET OUT!!!”. The drunk looks up at the bartender and slurs “How many bars do you work at, anyway?”.