Step Three

1997

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

Step Three Contents:

Introduction
Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

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Step Three ~ Introduction

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

My name is Jacque and I am a compulsive overeater. I am your leader for this step. The first question is why oh why did I agree to do this? Last Fall when Chuck asked for volunteers, I opened my big e-mail and offered to do this and suggest a couple of different steps -- he assigned Step Three. My HP works through others as we have written about in the last few weeks. It never fails that the Sunday school lesson I am asked to teach is the one I need to hear the most and I get the most out of it. The same could be said of this Step, it is the one I seem to have the most difficulty with, so I know that my HP means for me to find out a lot about me as I try to direct your thought on this step.

I came to OA over 4 years ago, my father had died recently and it really hit me that I was the older generation and that all my grandparents had had strokes or heart attacks or both and both of my parents had had open heart surgery in their early 50s. At my weight and conditioning level I was a heart attack waiting to happen. My Dr. was concerned about my cholesterol level and it seemed like everything was ganging up on me. I went to counseling. After a few weeks my counselor asked if I was willing to admit I was a compulsive overeater -- I said yes, then NO and then I don't know. She gave me the OA number to call -- it took a couple of weeks but I got there. (As an aside -- the directions to the church where our group meets were, go down old 82 and turn right at Captain D's if you get to Pizza Hut you have gone to far. -- It seems these are landmarks most COs can identify.)

I am kind of a straight line thinker and I figured once I got started I could whip this thing out in a few weeks or months and get on with my life. I was kind of disappointed when I found out it didn't work that way, but I kept coming back. For several weeks I was in denial -- I really wasn't one of them, even though I heard them tell my life story more than once. In defiance I would stop at that 31 flavors place with the drive through on my way home from the meeting.

When I finally got a sponsor and a food plan things began to fall in to place for me and I gained some physical recovery. Since the meeting I was going to was 28 miles away we started a meeting in our community and I really started doing service. I went to intergroup and super Saturday's. I did what I have heard called the OA Waltz for over two years. You know one, two, three, one, two, three -- no step 4. I was finally directed to a 4th step workshop that turned out to be a great experience and I was able to move forward for awhile.

When our local group got small and my service dropped off so did my program. I quit my sponsor and corresponding to others on the loop, relapse isn't pretty. I am now fighting my way back. One of the reasons I volunteered to write this step is because I needed to do service and this was the best way I could.


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Step Three ~ Part 1

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

I would like to break this step down in to four parts -- looking at will, our lives, the HP of our understanding and then the whole step and the decision.

Something I read pointed out to me that this is the first step that requires action on our part. That action is to make a decision and turn our will over. As our twelve step book says it sounds simple but we all know it isn't easy.

I was reading some program related (not approved) material the other day and they used this story to introduce step three and it really hit home to me. It went like this--an acrobat was seen one day stinging a wire over a deep falls -- he proceeded to walk across the wire with a wheelbarrow. Everyone watching was impressed. He then put a 200# bag of feed in the wheelbarrow and took it across the falls. When he returned he asked do you think I could wheel someone successfully across the falls in my wheelbarrow? A woman standing there said "Yes, I believe you could." He said "Get in."

In steps one and two we have indicated we believe HP could restore our sanity. Step Three is getting in the Wheelbarrow.

This step seemed strange to me at first because all my life -- my CO started around age 6 -- I was told that if I just had some willpower that I could be thin. Now I was being asked to give up what will I had. I had to learn some real lessons about the differences between willpower, self will, willfulness and HPs will. Most important I am learning to be willing to be willing--and some days that is the best that I can do. I have come to understand that I must do step 3 everyday and sometimes several times a day if I am truly turning over my will.

March 3 in "For Today" pointed out that what often appear to be character defects are actually good traits taken to the extreme. Will demonstrated through determination, perseverance and individualism is good. Self-will as demonstrated by attempts to control, rule, etc. is part of the insanity.


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Step Three ~ Part 1: Questions

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

  1. What do I see as the differences between willpower and self-will?

  2. Can I remember times when self-will run rampant has harmed me or others?

  3. What do I do to become willing to be willing?

  4. What are the positive attributes that I have due to my will that are not out of control? (Example--the negative might trying to control--the positive is being detail oriented and being counted on to do a good job.)

Let's get in the wheelbarrow together. Thank you for the opportunity to give service in this way.

Jacque

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Step Three ~ Part 2

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

Dear OA Friends--

Thank you for your messages and your thoughtful responses to part one--

I indicated that in part two I would look at turning over our lives. Here goes.

I grew up in a church that had a lot of revival's and the idea for turning your life over to a Higher Power meant going to Bible College or becoming a missionary in the Congo. That made this part of step three very difficult for me. In my head I know that turning my life over to my HP will not require me to go to the mission field and the Congo isn't a country name any more but it was a feeling that was hard to shake. There was that sane logical part of me that said I am where I am supposed to be, my HP has provided me with a good education, a job I like, and good friends around me. HP is not likely to ask me to pick up and go -- so what was I afraid of? That is what my sponsor asked me--What are you afraid that you will have to give up, what will you have to change, what is it that is so important in your life now that you fear you will be asked to give up?

After a lot of thought and discussion I realized that it was the change that I feared. What I had wasn't great and some of the stuff I really wanted to change but what I know was comfortable. I wasn't ready to step out side my comfort zone. This life might not be great but it is mine and I know it.

Turning over my will and my life is never done. To follow up on a thought someone else shared this week. I am like a child with a broken toy, that hands you doll with the missing arm. They say please fix it but then they want to hold on and try and help you. If they would let go it would take you only a few seconds to pop the arm back into place but the child's "help" makes it a much more difficult and lengthy process.

I remember one morning driving to work with something heavy on my mind (what it was I can't remember now). I was praying "Please, oh please take this problem from me Lord. Please take my life and this problem." At that moment I had to laugh at myself because I had a vision of my HP laughing at me saying "Jacque, I would be happy to take your problem and your life, but you have to let go first." I am glad my HP has a sense of humor or I would never make it.

I have to remember that my HP wants the best for me and that I can trust that my HP will not asked from me something I can not give. My HP has given my all the good things in my life and I need not fear that there is anything but good in store if I am willing to let go of my life and let my HP fix it.

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Step Three ~ Part 2: Questions

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

  1. What am I afraid I will have to give up if I turn my life over to my HP?

  2. Am I willing to acknowledge that things in my life right now are just as they are supposed to be? That the good things in my life are from my higher power?

  3. When I think I am in control what are problems I create for myself?

  4. Think of a time when you fought giving up a problem or turning a situation over to your HP and what were the results when you finally did?

Please forgive any spelling errors or places where I have left out words, my computer is not letting me go back and review so I hope I have made sense. I did want to get this out today because I will be out of touch for a couple of days.

Remember your HP can't fix it unless you let it go.

Happy journaling from spring time in Mississippi -- Jacque


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Step Three ~ Part 3

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

Dear Loopies--

I have found it interesting as the writer of the step three questions to see the shares that have been forwarded to me. As I read them I often thought that is my life they are sharing.

The teacher in me wants to summarize what I read that really hit home. First most of us are afraid to give up control. Yet, in step one we admitted that we were powerless -- no control -- to me that is what makes this disease we share so difficult to live with -- what we know intellectually doesn't make the connection to our hearts and our actions.

I trust my HP and I believe that the good things in my life are a result of the gifts I have been given--why is it so hard for me to let go of the control and the things in my life I want to get rid of? If my HP has given me the good things why wouldn't I expect more good things to replace the trash I would turn over. I sometimes believe there is a connection missing in my brain somewhere that those logical thoughts and knowledge can't bridge the gap to my heart and feelings. I believe that will be when the real serenity comes is when that connection is made.

This part of the step was not as easy for me as I thought it would be. I was a believer in a Higher Power -- I was an active member of a church, had served in church leadership and taught Sunday school. Slam dunk right? (The Slam Dunk part is in honor of the NCAA tournaments. :D) Wrong again!

When I was having trouble with this step my sponsor asked me do describe the God of my understanding. As I mentioned I was raised in a fundamentalist kind of church. God was often discussed as the vengeful kind of god with the hell fire and brimstone raining down on those who committed sins like dancing and going to movies and the other bigger sins.

That god wouldn't care about my eating disorder he would consider it a sign of weakness. (I grew up thinking that the saying "God helps those who help themselves" was scripture. It's not my brother just tried to convince me it was to get out of helping me do things when I was a kid.) The god I knew had much more important things to worry about than what I ate and how I felt. I could take major life problems like illness and the protection of others that I loved to him in prayer but felt it was in appropriate to take something as trivial as my eating ---

To my shock and dismay my sponsor said fire that Higher Power and get a new one -- When I recovered from that and began to ask question I saw what she meant -- I need to find a relationship with that caring HP that wanted to help me with everything not just the major earth shattering things. So after some thought I hired a new HP--I guess I still think in terms of He but He now sits is a big overstuffed leather chair where I can climb up in His lap and tell me all my problems, joys and concerns. (My HP is a lot like the stepfather I loved so much -- I remember my Mom taking a photo of me asleep in his lap while he read the paper -- I was a freshman in college at the time.) My HP is now a loving God who wants what is best for me and wants to give me the very best, if, I am willing to accept it. He cares about finding lost checks as well as terminal illness.:).

The questions this week are likely to cause controversy so I will warn you all up front to read the questions and the answers with love and an open mind or as we say TAKE WHAT YOU NEED AND LEAVE THE REST.


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Step Three ~ Part 3: Questions

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

  1. Describe the Higher Power of your understanding?

  2. Is the Higher Power I described the one I need to help me deal with the disease of being a compulsive eater?

  3. If I were going to pick a best friend what are the trait I would want them to have? Do I expect those same traits in a Higher Power?

  4. If the HP of our understanding is different than the HP we can turn our will and our life over to for care what are the actions we can take to bring them into alignment?

I hope I don't start something here -- these are very personal questions, at this point I Jacque a compulsive overeater turn over the results of writing these questions over to my Higher Power and imagine Him holding me and telling me it will be all right.


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Step Three ~ Part 4

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

My OA Friends:

I was going to start this final section by saying it has been a pleasure being your leader for this step. But it has not. Let me explain that--Step Three has always been hard for me personally so thinking about it seriously and in-depth to think about appropriate journaling questions has been any thing but pleasant. Growth rarely is. I have however appreciated the personal messages of encouragement and reading the answers posted each week, sometimes in wonder at the direction responses took and the honesty with which people answered.

This last weekend I attended a SuperSaturday OA event. We had a wonderful speaker who shared his ESH and most of all how he has turned his life and all that is in it over to his higher power and the positive results.

I was concerned about my inability to make the connection between what my head knows about turning my life over to God and what my heart feels. I wanted him to give me a formula --a special prayer or insight that would make that connection for me. Instead he told me what I already knew. That is was something that I had to do more than once. In fact he said he didn't think the process was ever complete while we are living. I started to cry I had to add another list to my things that never get done like, dieting, and housework. He gave me a book to read -- the main character "Much Afraid" must over come many obstacles and characters like, "Pride", "Resentment" and "Self Pity" before she could reach the High Places. Through out the story she lost faith and wanted to go back but each time she called on her HP he came and most often she was asked to once again sacrifice her will so that she could move on to the next higher level. At times reading the story I was almost angry because in some ways she was living my life. Sort of like going to an OA meeting. But the overall feeling I had was hopeful and reassured that I wasn't necessarily doing it wrong, the problem was I wasn't turning my will over often enough-----

STEP 3 MADE A DECISION TO TURN OUR WILL AND OUR LIVES OVER TO THE CARE OF GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM.

The Third Step Prayer as found on page 63 of the AA Big Book:

"God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear whitness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"

From the beginning I have had a little trouble with saying the prayer. At first I thought it was because I wasn't in to the Thees and Thous. I think I realized it is because it wasn't me. I have come to think of the prayer in the big book more as a guide. This is what I was taught about the "Lords Prayer" that although is OK to say it as is , it is a guide as to how to pray. I know that my personal prayers have to be much more personal.

This month OA's Lifeline (March 1997) was all about the third step and when I read the article starting on page 6 by J.L. from Tampa I knew how I wanted to end this session on Step three.

J.L. said that he/she had made a list of reasons she/he couldn't turn things over to the HP. J.L. realized that if the negative can'ts were taken out of the statements there were a lot of reasons to turn his/her life and will over.

We have already done something similar in this study by listing our fears and concerns at turning our will and our lives over. I suggest that we take the fears out of those statements and make them reasons to turn things over.


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Step Three ~ Part 4: Questions

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

This week it really isn't a question for journaling it is the challenge of writing a personal Third Step Prayer that meets our individual needs and addresses our personal concern in the language that we would use to talk to our higher power.

Good luck with this activity.

Thank you for letting me be your leader for step three. The opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of OA as a whole.

Jacque

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