Patience In Recovery

“Sometimes I get so tense, but I can’t speed up the time.” – Guns n’ Roses

Who says ‘Patience Is a Virtue’? Well, according to Ask.com;

The English author and courtier Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1345-1400) was the man who [originally] said “Patience is a Virtue”. The quote was written in one of his poems “Piers Plowman” a poem about a man, the poet and first narrator, in search of Catholicism and faith according to medieval standards.

In reply to the question, “Why is patience a virtue?” Answers.com had this to say;

The phrase “patience is a virtue” is just a way of expressing the importance of being patient. A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Patience can make us better people. The definition of the word is to tolerate delay implying self control and forbearance. When we say “patience is a virtue” we are exposing our moral values and expressing the importance of patience as a foundation of principle. So to answer the question patience is not a virtue until it truly becomes a virtue and knowing how diverse the spectrum of individualism is I’m sure patience is a vice(opposite of virtue) to some. Patience is a necessity for a happy existence and that is why the phrase is so often used.

The 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) are based upon spiritual principles. Spiritual principles provide guidance and discipline to those who dutifully practice them. But as it says on page 88 of the ‘Big Book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous; “We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.” 

What way is that? The way of patience. Specifically, it says;

“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.” (ibid. pages 87, 88)

If you are at all like me, there is one area of your life that could really benefit from the practice of patience: Patience with yourself – your progress and growth.

Think about it. Think about how many times you have said or thought to yourself, “I am never going to get this. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to make the progress (I feel) I should be making.”

When we allow this feeling to fester and grow, it can manifest itself in various forms – none of which are healthy, and they usually push others away and/or we pull away from them. Those closest to us are the ones most affected by our impatience with ourselves – as we will either lash out at them or clam up and pull away from them – thereby adding to our misconception and misperception of our ability to reach our desired goal.

This is most predominant in the first year of the recovery process. Our desire to be healed, to mend fences, and to become the person God created us to be, is so strong, that we can hardly wait to get there – as if it were a mile marker along the highway, or a destination to be reached. We fail to grasp, understand, and appreciate, that it is during our ‘pilgrimage to wholeness’ that our heart begins to change, and we become mature, responsible adults – contributing to life instead of selfishly grabbing everything for ourselves.

Why is it like that? Generally, it is because we have been stuffing and numbing our feelings with [fill in the blank with whatever worked for you]. In recovery, the longer we are clean and sober, the greater we are aware of our emotions. Since we have been in the habit of ignoring them as best we could, we now tend to be ‘over-the-top’ with our emotions. Each day is a roller-coaster of emotional ups and downs. Eventually this does pass, as long as we do not go back to using whatever made us “comfortably numb”. As long as we continue to make every effort to maintain our sobriety, we can and do recover from the hopelessness and despair that haunted us for so long. In recovery we begin to experience personal freedom and confidence like never before. Some of us recognize it as emotional sobriety.

In recovery we begin to realize that the freedom and confidence we thought we had before, was actually a form of denial. It was a short-lived fantasy, that always left us hollow, empty, and broken. When our cup overflowed, it was with grief, remorse, and shame. It was the cup of regret and hopelessness. In recovery, we began to drink from the cup of peace and serenity. Instead of the sinking sand of carnal pleasure, we gratefully stand on the rock of faith, which our Creator provides for us (cf; Romans 12:3). The dark hopelessness we had grown accustomed to is replaced with the light of hopefulness. Fear is replaced with courage. Anger is replaced with understanding and compassion toward others, and their shortcomings. We begin to know and understand that it is when we give of ourselves to others that our cup truly overflows – and it overflows with love, joy, kindness, and the peace that passes all understanding.

Patience – with ourselves AND with others — is but one of the many spiritual fruits that fills our heart with truth and light. \o/

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