It’s an old story/illustration. Trappers, seeking a way to catch some brand of monkeys without harming them, would cut a small hole in a coconut and stick a candy inside as bait. The coconut would be attached to a chain that kept it from being carried away. The story is that a monkey would reach inside the coconut to get at the candy. Once its paw grabbed the candy it couldn’t fit back out of the hole with the candy. The monkey would still be there, grasping its’ candy, unwilling to let go when the trappers came back the next day.
It seems intuitive that when you realize that something is bad for you – not just ‘bad’ in some moral sense but “bad for you” as in “this will kill you or make you wish you were dead” – that you would run away from it.
Turns out…no so much.
There’s an old proverb that runs it this way, “In the same way a dog returns to its vomit, a fool goes back to what hurts him.” Graphic image. Hard truth.
After listing our defects of character and sharing them with a trustworthy human being we come up against this 6th step.
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
The hard part: ENTIRELY ready. I’ve met a lot of people mostly ready, kind of ready and even a lot ready. Seldom do we get to ENTIRELY ready. The Big Book of AA says, “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” I can’t even begin to list all of the defects I’ve offered to God and asked him to remove while I steadfastly gripped them with the other hand. Even when God offers something better in return I’m so afraid to let go of the crap I hold on to that the only word for it is ‘crazy’. I’m just a monkey it would seem.
But when I wake up and I’m entirely ready it’s not about me cleaning the defects out of my life. That’s religion. It’s about God removing them. He just lets us have our way until we’re finally entirely ready to let him have his.
And then the next hard part – because we enter a process that sometimes stretches us, sometimes scrapes crap off of us, sometimes cuts through the layers of dead skin we’ve grown to protect our hearts, sometimes burns us with a passion for us that is so intense that it actually hurts. And this process sets us free.