Growth is a slow process. This is no less true when seeking to live out of a tradition that encourages growth in love and compassion. It is not about some sort of ‘willful’ choice to simply “do it”, to make some sort of decision and then that it is it. Willfulness can work for awhile, bus as time goes by and situations change, it grows weary and cumbersome to live from that space. It is like picking up a penny and willing something quite simple and easy. Holding out ones arm and holding the penny up, say for just an hour. Then the arm becomes tired and the penny starts to feel very heavy indeed…. sooner rather than later the penny will be dropped. However if one were to seek help in holding up the penny, then the outcome would be different, with help from others and a willingness to stay the hour, there would be success.
That help in holding up the penny is analogues to community. To an understanding of ones limits, and yes it is also about being open to grace. I can “will’ myself to be loving, compassionate and forgiving. Which is fine and good until something happens that is really too heavy to carry. Then the house of cards comes crashing down.
To be ‘willing’, to becoming more loving etc is different. Difficulties will come, but there is the knowledge of ones need for community, as well as on a deeper level, the grace that works through community and ones personal contact with the infinite. As a Christian that would be Christ Jesus for me. So it takes time, this growth into newer life, and inner healing, as well as the stamina to simply get up again if there is failure, is one fruit of being willing instead of willful. In being ‘willing’ there is always a new start, since the ego is not tied up into performing some super achievement in the moral order. It is the ability to ask for help. Both grace from God, as well as that grace that is manifested in the community that one belongs to.