Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

Reflections in Recovery

Love and Service
(Posted February 2, 2013)

In an honest desire to be of service, sometimes we may assume a position of responsibility or acquire a leadership status that seems to bring out the worst in people. Slings and arrows strike from all directions. After a while we just want to quit and say the hell with it.

We scan our AA brain for an answer and the expression “love and service” bubbles up. Paired this way suggests that the two go together, that one doesn’t work well without the other. True, it’s hard to see how we can love people who patently wish us ill or even hate us, especially when we are trying to be of help. But this is because we think of love primarily as a feeling.

However, if we think of love as a principle, as it appears in Step 12, then we can try to practice it whatever the circumstance. For, in practice, love is expressed concretely in such virtues as understanding, kindness, forgiveness, and generosity, character qualities which, once acquired, we can exhibit toward all. Seen this way, we can love even our enemies, respond to evil with good, and persevere in a life of “love and service” with complete equanimity.

[Image: Sister Ignatia, who helped Dr. Bob "bootleg" alcoholics into St. Thomas Hospital, where she was admissions officer and he visiting physician.]

For other posts, please click on Reflections.