“Let your will be done” (June 22, 2012)

Lately I have been repeating these words to myself often: “Let your will be done.” It’s been so helpful that I’m writing this post to encourage you to try it yourself. You probably think you know what I mean by those words, and may even find yourself put off by the traditional sound of them. But I can assure you that what they mean is anything but traditional.

We of course associate those words with the Lord’s Prayer, where we say to God, “Thy will be done.” But the Course, in characteristic fashion, turns this line around and twice says it to us:

You are but asked to let your will be done, and seek no longer for the things you do not want. (T-30.IV.7:4)

Today let your will be done, and end forever the insane belief that it is hell in place of Heaven that you choose. (W-pI.73.8:3)

What does the Course mean—“Let your will be done”? At first blush, it sounds exactly like what we want to hear: “Don’t bow to an old-fashioned God’s demanding Will. Instead, follow your own will. Express yourself. Seize the day. Suck the marrow out of life. Eat, drink, and be merry.”

Instead, what it means is that we have profoundly misunderstood our will. We think we want the things of the ego and the body, but strangely, when we actually get them, we experience them as hollow and unfulfilling. We think the things of God ask a sacrifice of us, but strangely, when we actually get them, we find ourselves at peace and in joy. Our own experience is the proof that we do not understand what we actually want.

This lack of understanding means that as we try to do our will—in seeking the conventional pleasures of life—we ironically end up imprisoning our actual will, which innately yearns for the things of God, and for God Himself. And then when this true will knocks at the door of our minds, asking to be expressed, we lock the deadbolt. “Hold on there,” we say. “You just want me to ‘be good,’ to make sacrifices, to give up tangible pleasures for empty promises and idealistic pipe dreams. I know your game. Don’t should on me!”

As this resistance arises in me, what I say in my mind now is “Let your will be done”–meaning, let my real will be done. It completely reframes things. And, alas, there are no lack of opportunities to use this. Am I resisting sitting down to do my hourly practice? “Let your will be done.” Am I resisting forgiving someone? “Let your will be done.” Am I resisting taking the time to do something for someone else? “Let your will be done.” Am I resisting my evening practice? “Let your will be done.” And when I say it, I reflect on the evidence in my experience that I really want to do those things, that I find genuine happiness in doing those things. Then I realize, “Yeah, this is my will. Why am I holding back? Why not let my will be done?”

In the past, I used to try to overcome resistance by reminding myself of the importance of doing the right thing. That can only get you so far. In recent years, I have tried to reason with myself that it’s in my interests to do the right thing. That works much better. But saying to myself “Let your will be done” works better still. It says more than “You’ll be happier afterwards.” It says, “This is what you already naturally want to do.” It feels like the perfect way to get past resistance.

I encourage you to give it a try. Next time you feel resistance rising, hear the Course say to you, “Let your will be done.” Reflect on the evidence from your experience that this really is your will. And see if your resistance doesn’t relax its senseless grip.

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