When we were motorcycle-shopping, Jon jokingly threatened to buy me a bike with training wheels—though he then reassured me that he wouldn’t humiliate me like that. I think the issue goes deeper than avoiding humiliation, though—what I need most is to build the gut-level confidence that the bike will, indeed, stay upright even without Jon on the front. And that confidence wouldn’t start growing with training wheels in place.
In a sense, passenger-ing behind Jon has been my “training-wheels” course in motorcycling… I’m SO comfortable when he’s in front of me, and I have absolute confidence in his control of the bike. When I’m his passenger, I’m utterly at ease on a motorcycle.
In my solo parking-lot ventures, it’s that confidence that was wholly lacking the first time I got on the bike by myself. It’s that confidence that I’m building. I’m overcoming my illogical expectation that the bike is somehow going to suddenly fling herself to the ground!
Last week I was pretty much walking her around the parking lot in first gear, working on getting comfortable with the friction-point on the clutch, and with the balance and weight of her being mine to handle. Last night I graduated to wide, slow circles around the parking lot, with my feet mostly picked up—so that’s some serious progress in my comfort-level. (Jon jogged alongside calling encouragement to me, just like my grandpa did when I was learning to ride bicycle.)
After my lesson in the church parking lot, we went inside for a meeting of Alcoholics Victorious, which is a Christian variation of A.A. It’s an open meeting, meaning that non-alcoholics (like Jon) are welcome. It’s a meeting that ditches the “God-as-you-understand-him” approach of A.A. and acknowledges that those of us in attendance believe in God of the Christian Bible. Our pastor leads the meeting, we enjoy amazing prayer together, and since we started attending a few months ago, Jon and I haven’t missed a meeting.
Last night’s discussion centered on accountability to other people, as it relates to staying Sober. I think it’s true across the board that honesty is essential to Sobriety—if we keep our dark secrets to ourselves, they control us. I’m Blessed to have a built-in “accountability partner” in Jon, whom I could never fool when I’d had a drink. And in a sense, accountability-to-Jon has been a sort of training-wheels program to investing directly in accountability to God.
I didn’t use to bother myself with worrying about God’s opinion of me; you could say I abused his forgiving nature by knowing in advance that I’d get forgiven yet again. (I abused Jon’s forgiveness in the same way for a year—I’d go a month or more Sober, and then I’d drink again. But the combination—in his eyes, on those occasions—of disappointment, fear, and anger did get to me, even though it was followed every time by forgiveness… and more days than not, it proved the deterrent that kept me from another drink.)
I’ve been seriously growing my relationship with God over the last half-year (more than five months continuously Sober) and it’s his disappointment that deters me now, in the increasingly-rare moments when I need a deterrent. I’ve been growing in my prayer-life, and most days the thought of a drink isn’t even crossing my mind.
Jon helped me take off the training wheels in that area of my life as well. We pray together at least a couple times a day, and have been doing so since we started dating—he used to call me at bedtime so we could share a prayer before turning in. For a long time he did the praying, and I was merely the “passenger” to his prayers. But he started pushing me to say the prayers—and you wouldn’t believe how much I fussed and resisted! I couldn’t even say why; it shouldn’t seem difficult with an audience of just God-and-husband… But he persisted and insisted, and I started offering some of our prayers. To my surprise, my personal prayer-life took off as well.
God has always been there with me—I know that hasn’t changed. But life is infinitely sweeter when I’m living in the constant awareness of his presence in my life. I still have so far to go (to grow)… but I’m retiring the training wheels!