Only 25 years later I’m starting to get the concept of willingness in a way that I can explain it to myself and begin to experience it as a practice. This is coming from the current round of step work I’m doing with my sponsor. Can I say this without sounding like the oldest of old-timers: “It’s in the steps”? It makes me laugh. There it is hidden in plain sight—it’s in the steps.
Now, willingness. It’s coming to me like this: I made a summary list of the amends I need—and want—to make. (See the blog post from July 8). I decide to give myself a quick review of that list once a day to keep the ideas fresh in my mind. And I prayed for willingness. I think that, in the past, I believed that if I really saw what needed to be changed and if I was really, really, really sincere in my willingness prayer—then swoosh!—change! But no.
Now I see that willingness is incremental and tiny and momentary. Something happens and I want to mind someone else’s business; I want to touch something that isn’t mine; I want to gossip; I have begun to say something that is gossip and that list I wrote of amends comes to mind. Oh, dam. I said I didn’t want to do this anymore. Now what? Am I willing to practice that big change right here, right now in this small way? In this particular situation? Am I willing to shift/drop/just not do that thing now?
In the moment when I want to mind her business; pick up his calendar; take on her feelings; tell myself I am crap; think that God loves everyone but me—that is when I get to be willing. The choice is tenuous, momentary, achingly hard.
I’ve worked on recovery in OA also so I can see the parallel with food: I said I didn’t want to eat cookies anymore. I prayed for that willingness. Then I am at someone’s home or in my kitchen and I’m eating a cookie! Instead of thinking, “Oh the willingness failed—I’m eating this cookie.” I can—if I’m home spit it out, or if I’m out I can sit the half eaten cookie down and push the plate away.
I guess I thought that if I ‘dropped the rock” it was going to be one big rock that would fall away and the freedom and relief would be huge and immediate. But no. It’s more like we have a bag of gravel and we drop a handful, maybe one pebble, at a time. But if we do it over and over—teeny, tiny willingness--the big rock “gets gone” just as truly.