How to practice patience and tolerance in your recovery
Since I came into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’d heard people say “Be careful what you pray for.” I didn’t truly understand what that meant until the day I’d prayed for patience and tolerance. Because, you see, my higher power doesn’t just grant these things to me. Instead, I was put into all kinds of situations that tested my patience and tolerance. On the day after I prayed for patience and tolerance I got into a series of situations that were almost annoyingly comical, given what I had prayed for:
1. I got into a traffic jam when I was already late.
2. I wound up getting in the longest lines possible at the grocery store. Every single person in front of me needed a price check, was using multiple coupons, or wanted to dig out exact change from their coin purse.
3. My internet went down at work.
4. My car’s battery died, and I had to wait an hour and a half for someone to find jumper cables and help me get it started.
5. When I got home, the apartment complex maintenance men were in my apartment, fixing a leak, and I had to leave for 2 hours so they could finish.
6. My sponsee called and cancelled plans with me for the 5th time.
By the end of the day, I was chuckling to myself. I hadn’t been given patience and tolerance; I had been put in situations that had let me practice patience and tolerance in my recovery.
Patience and tolerance can be tough lessons to learn for a drug addict or alcoholic, at least it was for me. I was used to the instant gratification that could be achieved by taking a drug or drinking. I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted it now. There was never any thought of being patient or tolerant. If my drug dealer wasn’t answering the phone, I’d call him 87 times until he did. If I needed money to get the drugs, I figure out some way to get it, and god help you if you got in my way. The only time for anything was “now” or “five minutes ago.” I was selfish and self-seeking. I was intolerant of anyone who did not agree with me, particularly if it had to do with my drinking or drug use. Practicing patience and tolerance was the last thing on my mind.
Having had a spiritual awakening, however, I am now trying to live a different way. I am trying to practice spiritual principles like patience and tolerance on a daily basis. I try to empathize with others, and feel compassion towards them and their situation, which is a lot easier now that I am not numbing my emotions with drugs and alcohol. Mostly though, I realize that when I lose my patience and tolerance, it is usually because I am trying to control situations that are out of my control instead of just accepting what is.