The recovery literature says love and tolerance is our code. It's simple and clear-cut. But practicing it in everyday life isn't always easy.
The other day I took a phone call from a business neighbor with whom we've had a few minor problems over the years. He's not always pleasant to deal with. So I rarely talk to him unless there's an issue between our businesses. And one of my business associates refuses to talk to him at all because he gets angry every time they get into a discussion.
But I changed my perspective about our neighbor after his phone call. And it was a lesson for me. During our conversation – while he was rambling on and on – he told me he and his wife have a 15-year-old handicapped daughter. He said the child functions on the level of a six-month-old. He talked about the frustrations he and his wife face caring for the child.
When he told me this my attitude changed. Because he's difficult to deal with most of the time it isn't easy to express tolerance or love for him. Yet, when he told me of the difficult challenge his family faces my heart went out to him. I see him in a different light.
I realize I must practice the principles in the 12-step literature. Love and tolerance will allow me to accept people who may carry unseen burdens – emotional trauma that might affect their communication.
Not only did I come away with a desire to treat others with more understanding, I also came away with a new respect for our neighbor. I'm not sure I could bear the burdens he and his wife bear and be civil to anyone.