Topic for the week: Step 3
Hello again, I’m Sophie and an alcoholic.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for having me serve as your Chairperson this week.
We are all invited to share on Step 3. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.
*** Step 3 ***
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”
This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 60. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
Starting with the 3 pertinent ideas on page 60, the a,b,c’s, I became convinced to my innermost self and at depth that I cannot safely drink, that I cannot take that first drink, that I am bodily and mentally different in the way I react to alcohol, that nothing I’ve tried in the past got me or kept me sober and that finding a god of my understanding is my only solution. This was pretty much my learning from the first two steps and the chaos of my life and drinking before AA. These are my foundations to my new sober life. So now at Step Three, where was I? How was I to do this “turning over” business? What was I actually turning over?
My experience is that this step is daily. But that it means I continue to turn to the solution in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous – the 12 steps. Once I start thinking I know best again or that I have to create an outcome or control a person or situation I know I’m back in Sophie’s will. It’s uncomfortable and it leads me into the spiritual malady of restless, irritable and discontent.
But the hope is I can start again at any point. I can reaffirm my desire to stay stopped and to continue to grow in my sobriety. I have reached that turning point so many times in my sobriety in pretty much every area of my life. Sometimes I write to God. Sometimes I get down on my knees. Often I pray sitting down with my arms and hands open. Or I talk to God in the pause before I tackle something new. Or I reach out to another AA or another person. I need to check my thinking and my actions. As my disease of alcoholism lives in my head it doesn’t help to try to do this alone. Better I pray or talk to someone in the program.
I’ve heard the first 3 steps distilled into I can’t, He can, so let Him. If the male word for god doesn’t work I can replace it with my own Them, She, It.
Step Three is me getting out of the way. Me taking my place alongside the god of my understanding. Stepping back to allow that “good orderly direction” to flow through me. Consciously pausing or waiting to allow my Higher Power in before me. Gosh, how many times have I rushed into the day and been coming up against everything and everyone then realising I’ve jumped in the driver’s seat, opened my Book of Complaints Against The World and been hurt or caused hurt.
Today I have AA that gives me choices.
I can say the prayer but it’s the actions I take that show I’m actually letting go of my old ideas, my old thinking and willing to continue learning and growing and practicing in the 12 steps. I can make the decision but without acting differently this step for me becomes lip service and an intellectual neck up exercise. I want the freedom AA has given others so for me I want to continue to take the actions of the rest of the program.
Before Step Three I needed to have admitted my powerlessness over alcohol, to begin accepting this as a fact about myself and to have something I could understand as a power greater than myself. I couldn’t do that alone. I needed to hear it shared about in meetings by other alcoholics. I needed to ask questions, to read AA literature, to find a sponsor to walk with me.
Saying the Third Step Prayer for the first time with my sponsor was not a blaze of trumpets and angels. It was a turning point. I was doing something I’d never done before. I was seeking and accepting help and guidance from someone in my sobriety journey. I was saying alone I can’t.
I know I’ve turned my will over today when I’m not full of fear, when I’m in the flow of trusting all is well and my needs are met. Often the big things (the elephants) I find easier to turn over whereas the smaller day to day things (the bunny rabbits) can have me tripping over into impatience and anger and self justification or self pity. Watch out for the bunnies!
A program friend stayed with us recently. He used this phrase his sponsor used with him… “have you turned your will and life over to god today? Then what are you worrying about?”. What I loved about this is that it reminded me, in my first two years of sobriety I faced redundancy twice in the same organisation. Even though I was a relative beginner at practising this 3rd Step principle of trust, I had turned my will and life over to my HP, and when the news arrived I was filled with calm rather than dread, with the feeling of being held and looked after rather than cast off into the abyss to fend for myself. And both times things happened that were better than anything I could have dreamt of for myself. Sure it wasn’t all plain sailing but I had program friends, meetings, my sponsor, the steps, god, and I got to experience new things that wouldn’t have happened had I got in the way of god’s will for me. I always say, thank God for AA and thank AA for God. I get carried, held, loved, guided, nourished and all when I trust and get out of the way.
The words of the Third Step Prayer (page 63 of the Big Book) continue to be a core of my daily connection with my God;
If you wish to say them with me I’m including them here.
God I offer myself to Thee
To Build with me and to do with me as Thou Wilt.
Relieve me of the Bondage of Self, that I may better do Thy Will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life.
May I do Thy Will always.
I open the weekly meeting for all who wish to share on topic on the Third Step, and off topic for anyone needing to share on anything else related to alcoholism or sobriety. Third Step in the third month…. step shares always welcome, if you miss this week just post your share as off topic. Or if you have a question, post it as off topic and members will reply to you personally.
Thank you for having me be of service.Growing and loving in Grow, in AA and in life.
Sending out love and prayers and hugs to all my Grow sisters.
*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***
You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read for free online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/