Sunday, May 7, 2017

Willingness to Reject Unwillingness

Step Six:

“As long as we could see the possibility of becoming willing, we were still in the program. At times of unwillingness, we prayed for willingness.”

I love the phrasing “see the possibility of becoming willing,” as though it’s a target I’m aiming at, missing consistently but getting closer. Though honestly, as an addict I don’t always have the most realistic grasp on my attitude—“I could overcome my porn problem any time I want.” Still, when I learned to be honest enough with myself, all I need is the realistic desire to be willing. It’s like the desire to believe as a seed (in Alma 32) that I have to let work within me until I believe. If I’m letting my willingness work within me, I’m still working towards recovery in good faith.

“Although [character weaknesses] tended to pop up anew every day…”

Step six isn’t a magical removal of my character weaknesses—it’s a daily surrender as they arise. What I don’t think the text expresses is that the character weaknesses lose their power and I become increasingly purified as I rely on the Savior’s help to root them out of my chest (Alma 22:15). Over time I learn to become a new being, cleansed of impure motives and desires. Over a long time. Very long.

“…our defects can teach us humility and wisdom.”

This is a concept that I struggle with…I’ve heard a number of addicts say that they were grateful for the addiction because it taught them positive things. Yes, I think I can learn some very powerful lessons from recovering from my addiction that I don’t think I could learn in any other way. And I’m grateful for the miracle of forgiveness and that I’m making the progress that I am. But I think I could have saved myself a lot of misery and learned these same principles in other ways. When I compare the danger of me being lukewarm without the addiction (not being forced to the atonement of Jesus Christ by an uncontrollable compulsion), vs the danger of getting lost in my addiction never to get out…I think I’d take lukewarm. Actually, I’ll take recovery, but you get what I’m saying.

“…what appeared to be a character defect in one situation could be an asset in another…conscientiousness to the extreme of perfectionism, concern for the opinion of others to the extreme of dependency on their approval.”

I don’t know that I agree that character weaknesses suddenly change just based on the context, but I do think many, if not all, of my weaknesses are based in good impulses. The addiction itself is mostly based in a desire for acceptance and love, which is not a bad thing. Independence, a desire to take care of myself without hurting others, can also be a good thing. The way that it manifests in my life, though, is an unhealthy, corrupted version of these otherwise positive attributes.


"As I become willing to admit that I'm wrong...I become willing to surrender more defects."  

Part of the reason I think I turned to my addiction is because I connect my sense of personal value with how people view me. If I look good, then I can tell myself I am good. To admit error, then, is to undermine my value as a human being. A funny thing happens when I become willing to admit wrongdoing--I learn that I didn't need to hide my flaws in the first place. I'm still a valuable individual even with weaknesses. I'd like to partake in the cycle described in this quote--constantly humbling myself, constantly surrendering defects, and constantly making progress.


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