“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” —Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Step Three
Note: In this blog post, we reference Step Three as outlined in the Big Book of AA interchangeably with Step Three as outlined in the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Basic Text.
“Made a decision…”
The beginning of Step Three emphasizes choice—the ability to decide. This is so important because when we were drinking or using, we often felt as though we didn’t have a choice. The urge to engage in addict behavior often felt too great to resist. In Step Three, we can choose when we are ready to let go of self-will and begin the process of allowing our higher power to take the lead.
“To turn our will and our lives over…”
This part of Step Three includes two important concepts. The first concept is that of self-will. According to AA’s Big Book, Step Three requires the realization “that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.” Understandably, we cannot expect to have all things in life exactly as we’d like them to be. The problem with this approach, the Big Book explains, is that “we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, ”resulting in feelings of resentment, indignation, anger and self-pity.
The second concept is a common phrase in NA and NA: “turning it over.” This essentially means letting go of self-will and trusting that our higher power will take the reins.
“To the care of God as we understood Him”
In this last part of Step Three, we return to the idea of a higher power of our own understanding (see our blog post on Step Two to learn more about the concept of a higher power.) We have decided to allow this higher power to take control of all the people, places and things we’ve been(unsuccessfully) trying to manage.
Deeper Thinking About Step Three
- Make a list with two columns. In column one, include what you can control and in column two, include what you can’t control (hint: column one will likely be much shorter than column two).
- Practice the Serenity Prayer
- Reflect on the following questions:
- What concerns or reservations do I have regarding “turning it over” to a higher power?
- How have I acted on self-will in the past?
- In what ways have others been impacted by my self-will?
- What are some examples of things in my life I can turn over to my higher power?
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