Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published October 2013.

The Ebb and Flow of Faith

A member discusses a commonly heard AA expression about faith and fear

I have heard it said often that fear and faith cannot live together. It appears to be a local saying, as I did not hear it until I moved to Kankakee County, Ill. I got sober in Reading, Pa., but when I returned to Illinois, I frequented a certain clubhouse. In those four-to-five years in Reading, I did not hear this expression ever. Importantly, my experience is that fear and faith can live in the same person.

Early in sobriety, I was taught fear stood for one of two acronyms. Step 6 in the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions says, "God will not remove our instincts." Fear is a God-given instinct. It is the instinct of self-preservation. Bill W. writes, "fear need not always be destructive, because the lessons of its consequences can lead us to positive values." (p.265, Language of the Heart) Fear, itself, is not bad or wrong. It is what we do with the fear that determines consequences and actions.

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