Sunday, December 2, 2012
Willing To Be Willing
I was recently reminded of how important it is to be willing to be willing. I had been asked whether or not the AA’s common approach to getting rid of resentments really worked. Since no one can speak for The Program, I could only answer for myself. My answer? A resounding “Yes!”
What is this common approach?
When I found myself sharing resentments I had toward a former boss – having bad dreams, experiencing continuing anger/frustration about what “might have been” if it weren’t for this boss, and so on, old-timers in the Program taught me that to continue to harbor resentments like these was like taking poison in order to hurt someone else. It didn’t work and if I wasn’t very careful, I’d drink again.
“What do I do?” I finally asked.
“Pray for him and his happiness.”
“Get down on your knees and pray for him.”
“You’re kiddin,’ right?”
“Nope. Pray for him. Thirty days. Pray for him.”
So, after several weeks, I did.
My first prayer was something like this – and I’m not exaggerating: “Dear Lord, I don’t like what this is all about and don’t know how to ask You to do something I don’t want, but make the S.O.B. happy.”
The language in my prayers began to soften during the ensuing weeks, ending up with prayers that were variations of: “Lord, I trust You to help him and his family have a happy, joyful life together. Amen.”
I did that for a month. It worked! What I found was similar to my experience of the lifting of my compulsion to drink. I had sort of thought there would be a thunder clap when that compulsion left me. There wasn’t. I never even recognized it until a woman (who came into the Program shortly after me) was asking the group when her compulsion would leave. Suddenly, I realized I couldn’t remember when I had last felt that compulsion. When did it leave? I don’t know. It was … just … gone.
It was the same with this resentment: I was no longer angry – just saddened. I can’t tell you when that shift happened and it doesn’t matter. What matters is the shift. I can deal with “sad” and maintain my serenity. That’s not true of anger. Anger makes me want to drink. Even after 25 years it still can. I can handle being saddened.
However, the key for me to open this door was to be willing. I guess I really didn’t want my boss to be happy. I wanted him to suffer. I really didn’t want it, even if it made me miserable. It took me several weeks before I took the old-timers advice to pray for my old boss.
It doesn’t take me several weeks any more.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states a similar truth: All I need to do is be willing to ask the Holy Spirit for a new way of perceiving a situation or person. All I need to do is really want to perceive with vision rather than with sight. In short, I just need to be willing. Willing to ask the Holy Spirit and willing to listen for His voice.
However, I have found that many irritating issues and people still bother me because I am really not willing to let go. Apparently, I truly want to have the person suffer or have the situation continue. I don’t know why that still is the case, but it is. It’s a stark reminder that I am still a work in progress.
I don’t know how many times I have heard members in the AA Fellowship talk about how they simply didn’t know what really happened when they got sober – and, yes, that includes me. They meet someone (a now-sober friend, usually) who’s in the Fellowship. What brought them together? Don’t know. They pick up the phone and call a clinic, a friend, an acquaintance. Why? They’re not sure. They feel good about it, though, and for some reason (also unexplained) they don’t drink for a night, or a day, or an afternoon. Why? Don’t know. But they end up in an AA meeting or a rehab unsure exactly how they got there. But they’re on their way. What happened and how we explain it or not doesn’t matter.
For me, responding to this unexplained willingness is the key that unlocked all these doors. I believe all these “not-sures,” “can’t-explain-its,” or “have-no-ideas” is our Higher Power working behind the scenes conceiving hope and willingness. Voila, a transformed life is being born. It is now the Advent season for Christians. This thought of a new-born life is very close to explaining what the Christmas message means to me.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#1 December, 2012