I’m coming to believe that spiritual love does not begin or end with me. It originates at the source of all life and flows through me out into the world to return again and again. Putting others first is a demonstration of my willingness to be changed, to learn how to love more.
In our 11th step prayer, St. Francis asked God to make him a channel of peace. When my spiritual channel is open love pours through. My life feels peaceful and contented. I become an ever-greater expression of the One that has all power. When my channel is blocked by selfishness, fear, anger, judgment and the like, the love can’t flow. This, I believe, is the spiritual malady that causes me to feel restless, irritable, and discontented. I drank against the anxiety caused by the spiritual malady for 30 years.
I learned everything about putting others first in Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn’t show up feeling very good about myself. But the people in the meetings loved me anyways. Slowly through the years the 12 steps dissolved much of the self-centered fear I walked through the door with. I learned how good it feels to give back the love that was so freely given to me. Seeing the light come on in a newcomer’s eyes when they finally “get it” is my favorite of all experiences.
Putting others first means the willingness to practice love and tolerance not only in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, but on the highway and in the checkout line at the grocery store. Putting others first without expectation of receiving anything in return is the highest spiritual challenge. I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.