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“How do we best cultivate "willingness" or is it by grace that we come to this? After a trauma in my life, it took me 4 years of suffering all the while thinking I was 'willing'...while praying and saying 'words' of surrender ...to realize that I was really being resistant!” – L
A Course in Miracles points out that you do not have to look for Love because you already have It. You only have to look for your obstacles to Love so that you can remove them and be aware that you have Love. It is the same with willingness. You do not have to cultivate willingness. You only have to look for your obstacles to being willing and the willingness will be there.
Wanting, wishing, hoping, and intending are all passive states of desire. Willingness occurs when you allow the necessary shift or change to actually occur within you so that you will have the desired experience. Often, this shows up as taking action or a change in behavior. But if it is only an internal experience that you desire, then willingness leads to you having the experience.
For example, Janel dreams of being a doctor. When she becomes willing to be a doctor she will enroll in the appropriate classes to become one. She will take action.
John is tired of the consequences of his alcoholism. His life has become unmanageable. When he becomes willing to heal his life he will accept the means (rehab, 12-step program, therapy, etc.) to become and remain sober. His behavior will finally change.
Becky wants to hear the Holy Spirit. When she becomes willing to hear the Holy Spirit within her she will hear the Holy Spirit within her.
Willingness comes when you “hit bottom” or experience pain that threatens to be more than you can endure. Or it comes when you value the experience that you want more than you value whatever resisting it gives to you. So you can move toward willingness by looking for your obstacles to achieving what you desire. Without judging yourself, look honestly at what you value instead of the experience that you desire. Look at what you think you might lose if you get what you desire. Look at what you think you might lose as you work toward what you desire. Understand that some of your obstacles may take a while to undo. When they are removed, willingness will come. And if you are unable to find your obstacles, then accept that you are not yet willing to know what your obstacles are! You cannot force yourself to be willing.