Among the true markers of long recovery is a life with more peace, more compassion and more acceptance. When I hear folks with long recovery talk what impresses me most is their willingness. I hear, and I see—because it’s behavior that counts --their willingness to use the tools of recovery; their willingness to admit they are wrong; and their willingness to say, “I don’t know” and “You may be right.”
Our friends with strong recovery have a willingness to believe in a Higher Power, and a willingness to surrender their lives to that Higher Power. Yes, there is still that swing of giving and taking back our will, and no one does this perfectly, but I do admire the willingness of people in recovery who do more than just give up or go along with what ishappening. Instead they practice a kind of active willingness.
Seeing that kind of deep and amazing change is what prompted me to write about long-term recovery in the book, “Out of the Woods.”
I think of it this way: Willingness is more than just gravity. An apple falling from a tree may or may not be willing. But a person who tries sky diving, bungee jumping or slipping into the deep end of the swimming pool is demonstrating willingness. Acceptance requires willingness, and forgiveness is the product of willingness. And, as we’ve been told over the years, you only need a little bit of willingness to do any of this. Just a very little bit.
Some of my favorite sayings about willingness are these:
“Willingness is a grace. It is a softening. It is leaving the door slightly ajar.”
“Willingness is showing up. It is showing up and letting go.”
“Willingness is a freedom and it is a step toward freedom.”
“Willingness is a movement of energy; my energy joined to God’s.”
One of the finest messages we garner from The Big Book is about willingness. It is in the story called, “Freedom from Bondage” and it describes the author wanting so badly to be free of a terrible resentment. She gets some help from a magazine article and she describes the practice this way: “If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free.” The prescription suggests that we do this praying for two weeks.
The writer goes on to say, “It has worked for me many times, and it will work for me every time I am willing to work for it.”
In many ways it couldn’t be a simpler suggestion. We can seek willingness and even the willingness to be willing.
"Out of the Woods--A Guide to Long-term Recovery" is published by Central Recovery Press.