Step 3 of AA
Step one and step two should have prepared you for step three. Step one helped you come to terms with the severity of your addiction and its consequences. Step two helped you accept that you need outside help to make the changes needed to recover. However, if you feel unprepared to follow through with this step, it’s probably time to revisit the previous steps.
Step three states:
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood him.”
Step three is when you begin accepting help. This is the very first step asking for activity. You have to do something, to make a decision. You are going to ask for outside guidance and when you get it you are going to follow it.
The discussion that follows should help you to better understand the step and how it is applied in real life. For more help working the steps and to find additional treatment options, call 800-839-1686. Trained counselors are waiting to take your call.
Why Is Making a Decision Important?
Firstly, you might be thinking that you need complete and utter faith to take this step. But, don’t worry. No one gets to this step with a pure divine faith. In fact, most alcoholics reach step three with little or no faith. This is actually the moment where faith begins to develop.
This step marks a beginning to the journey and it can’t be started until a decision is made. By choosing to move forward with this, you choose not to continue with your present unmanageable life. You choose not to move forward with your alcoholism. But, you also choose not to chase a bunch of other treatments down. You are committing to this step and the other eleven of them.
Further, alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle cause of death in America. Isn’t it really time that you decided to live a healthy life?
Why Does It Have to Be God?
After being told during step two that a higher power didn’t have to be tied to the concepts of Christianity, you may be upset to see God included in this step. Don’t worry.
As in the previous step, you are welcome to replace “God” with “higher power.” It is not necessary that you believe in God or understand God to succeed in a 12 step program. You only need to accept that you need help and be willing to receive it. Usually, the help will come from supportive peers, like friends, sponsors, and therapists.
For many addicts, the word “God” becomes an acronym for “Good Orderly Direction” or “Group of Drunks” and those concepts drive the 12 steps.
A study shows that AA attendance is pointedly linked to increased abstinence and reductions in drinking regardless of God belief. It really has no impact on the benefits provided by the program.
How Can I Help Myself Get Over My Aversion to the Concept of God?
By this point, you have probably come up with your higher power and it might even be a traditional understanding of God. That’s great. But, if you are still struggling, the following exercise may help.
Get a large sheet of paper and draw a large circle on it. Fill the circle with characteristics that you need your higher power to possess—does it need to be honest? Nurturing? Funny? Fill the space outside of the circle with characteristics that you need the higher power not to possess—does it need to not be punishing? Judgmental? Angry?
Next, use scissors or just rip the outside of the circle away and destroy the pieces. Agree that what is left remains the reality of God for you. Remember that the step specifically states “God as we understood him.” All that matters is that the God you define works for you. It doesn’t have to match other people’s and they won’t judge you for your concept of a God.
Can I Turn My Life Over?
Yes. You can.
When you turn over your will, you relinquish your need to exert your self-will. This means you accept the steps as the guiding principle in your recovery and not your will power (which has not been successful in maintaining or continuing sobriety). You let go of trying to will things into occurring and give yourself permission to live through the steps. You also trust that things will be OK.
As you continue to rely on your higher power to help you get through the steps, you learn to more heavily rely upon them for positive results. This will make your life less stressful than the way it was when you had to count on yourself to direct everything.
For additional help, call 800-839-1686. The more support you get, the stronger your recovery will be. We can link you to treatment, detox, and other resources that can all assist you in your recovery.