This is a blog post about how I try to make sense of Step 3 of AA’s 12-step programme.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I struggle with Step 3. I did a good job of trying to wreck it, but this is my life and how the hell do you turn your ‘will’ over to someone or something else? I know people in AA who’ve managed to do exactly what Step 3 asks and felt the benefits in their sobriety. I admire them for that. Not so for me; I’ve had to find a compromise that is still a work in progress. I don’t know how God feels about my re-imagining of Step 3; let’s hope he’s willing to humour me.
My problem with Step 3 is that it feels like handing over control and that fills me with dread. A big part of the reason my life now ‘works’ is that I exercise a lot of control over what I do and do not do. In my head, there’s a strong link between this control and sobriety and whilst I’m sure God wants me to be sober too, I’d rather not let go completely because so far, what I’m doing works. It seems, not for the first time, that I have a trust issue.
Also, for me, Step 3 smacks of abdicating responsibility and I can’t do that. The mess I made of my life when I was drinking was down to me. If I relapse, that’s down to me too. The hard work required to stay sober… well that’s down to me too. I do believe that God is willing to help if I ask him to and providing I’m doing my best to help myself. I also believe he’s willing to offer guidance and point out the right path to take when it isn’t clear to me. Of course this only works if I’m listening. Perhaps what I’m saying here is that I’m willing to accept help, but only when I ask for it which might translate to only when I think I need it … As you can see, I don’t find this stuff easy.
What I can see is that God is a force for the good and as such would want me to look after myself, lead an honest life, help others whenever I can and reach my full potential – however much or little that turns out to be.
There will be times when what I want to do, isn’t the right thing to do, because it’s dishonest, selfish or harmful. There will be times when I should give up what I want to do in order to help someone or something else. I try to do this every time I can and not expect a ‘thank you’ or some sort of karmic pay back for being a good egg.
My life is mine but I certainly don’t have control over everything that happens (no matter how hard I try) and there are times when I ask God for guidance and/or help for myself or others. If I’m prepared to ask for help then it follows that I believe I might get it – God might do for me or someone else, what we cannot do for ourselves. His ‘power’ trumps my self-will and best efforts.
As I said in an earlier post, I have real issues with God not intervening every time to put an end to suffering. Actually it makes by blood boil and reduces me to tears, yet I continue to believe and I can’t explain why; it feels counter-intuitive, even to me. Perhaps this is another reason I struggle with Step 3.
Turning my will and life over to the power of God as I understand him means that I’ve chosen to try to live a ‘good’ life and listen when he gives me a push in a certain direction. Having lived through the horrific consequences of doing things my way, I’m trying to get better at giving someone else a turn at the tiller but there’s still a way to go.
I know this post is full of contradictory thoughts and ideas and am sorry for that but I’m still working this stuff out and can only be honest about where I am with it right now. In any event, thanks for listening.
Hope you’ve all had a great weekend and stay well.