I’ve received countless gifts in sobriety beginning with the moment of clarity that led me to you, but I believe the most important gift I’ve received is the gift of willingness. Without willingness, I would not have continued to take the actions necessary for all the other gifts to materialize in my life.
I received the gift of willingness in my first meeting. I wasn’t sure I wanted what you had, but I was really, really sure I didn’t want what I had. I sensed there was some kind of magic going on in the room that day. I had no idea what it was, but I was willing to go back and find out. It didn’t take long for me to realize that AA offered a way out of my pitiful life. I was so grateful, I would have been willing to stand on my head in the corner of the meeting room and recite the Serenity Prayer if you had asked me to.
I was afraid I would lose interest in AA halfway through. This had been my pattern throughout my life. I read countless self-help books as I bounced along the bottom. I remember feeling very excited when I cracked open a new book. I just knew I would discover the answer for my life somewhere in the pages. But I lacked the willingness to take the prescribed actions and the book ended up with all the others — gathering dust on my bedside table. I started countless diet and exercise programs. I joined gyms. But after a few months you could find me vegetating on my couch. And I still cannot quite figure out how I ranked in the top third of my class halfway through my freshman year and still managed to flunk out in my sophomore year. I was great at starting things, but lacked the willingness for sustained effort.
I call on a hidden reserve of willingness every time I have to take actions that are uncomfortable. I really didn’t want to share my secrets with my sponsor during my first fifth step, but I did anyways. Somehow I was graced with the willingness to face a hotel manager and admit I had stolen money from his hotel twenty years earlier. Recently I demonstrated my willingness to forgive by using the tools to let go of a couple of sticky resentments even though it felt so good to hold onto them.
Today I enjoy peace of mind most of the time. My life feels useful and contented. It’s true I’ve taken the suggested recovery actions, but God supplies the fuel—willingness.