During the month of July we will look at the concept of willingness and how it relates to the Integrated Life. Sunday we started our exploration of "willingness." Webster defines willingness as: Willingness(noun): the quality or state of being willing; free choice or consent of the will; freedom from reluctance; readiness of the mind to do or forbear. Some antonyms for willingness are: apathy, aversion, denial, dissension, indifference, refusal, reluctance, or unwillingness.
We don't often hear about willingness being an integral part of our spiritual life. What we do hear more often is about how we need to exert our willpower to make things happen. There is a subtle but critically important difference between the two. In the first, we are by "free choice consenting our will to do or forbear." In the second, we are actively asserting our will on a given situation, person or condition. In willingness, we are a "receptive participant," aligning our will with God's. In self-will, we are the primary driving force determining what is best in a given situation or condition. 12 step wisdom describes this difference as being either into "willingness or willfulness".
Jesus, when faced with the reality of His upcoming crucifixion, modeled for us what ultimate willingness looks like. In the face of His death, He prays, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” This type of willingness is only possible if a person deeply knows that God is trustworthy, loving and good. Shortly before His death Jesus is talking with his close friends and reveals this type of knowing and confidence in God His Father. He says, "I pray... that all of them may be one, Father, just as you arein me and I am in you..that they may be one as we are one..because you loved me before the creation of the world (John 17:20-24).
It took Jesus thirty-three years of intimate union with God to come to this place of willingness. Thirty-three years of experiencing, growing, and deepening understanding of God's love that allowed Jesus to ultimately surrender His will to that of God's. We too, in God's grace, are afforded the gift of growing in willingness. There is no reason we should have already mastered willingness. The more we grow in our "knowing" (the gut kind of knowing; more so than the intellectual) of God's love, the more we grow in willingness. Apathy, aversion, denial, dissension, indifference, refusal, reluctance, or unwillingness all can be red flags for us. If we find that we are in unwillingness, we can simply pray for willingness, or even for the willingness to be willing. Willingness is something that God creates in us as we are open to Him. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. And we find that a life run on willpower woefully pales in comparison to the beauty, serenity, and joy that comes with a life lived in willingness.
Consider this week:
Am I into willpower or willingness?
By Babs May-Clark