Step Three

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


Step Three

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

I think that the italics will be taken out, so I used stars.

Steps one and two are prep steps for this one. If when we think about turning our will and our lives (including our food and compulsive behavior) over to our HP, we balk -- we may need to do more work on the first two steps. If the problem is with giving up control of the food, perhaps we don't really believe we are powerless. If it's the HP part that is bothering us, then the work is with the 2nd Step.

If we are ready to move on, I think this step is a cornerstone of the program.

In the AA 12 x 12, it is said that it is like we have a locked door. We make the decision to unlock the door and turn the doorknob. The door then seems to open by itself. The key to the door is willingness. It says that once we have opened the door, we will see a sign that says "this is the way to a faith that works."

In the OA Sponsor's Guide, it says that a spiritual experience can be likened to planting a seed. There is much that goes on between the time we plan a seed and we see a flower. Perhaps this a good place to watch for progress and not expect perfection.

I think I did this step for the first time in my first OA meeting. I heard a voice in my head reminding me that I was the one who had moved away and asking if I would be willing to come back and try it. And I said "yes." And the horrible addiction to my sugary binge foods was lifted right then.

So what are the steps to taking the 3rd Step?

I think that one of them is having a plan of eating -- even if it is just a simple one like not eating between meals or giving up a binge food. When I say I will turn my will and my life, including my food over to my HP, I need to know which behaviors they are and what those foods are.

Does it seem scary to turn everything over to a Higher Power that you may have just met? Just think of the alternative -- a life of compulsion and obsession. A life not fully lived. As it says, you need only be willing to give it a try. Just turn the key of willingness.

In AA literature, it says that we had previously turned our will and our lives over to a power greater than us, but that power was our addiction and compulsion. How much better to turn it over to a Higher Power who cares for us.

In the Big Book we are given the 3rd Step Prayer. Many times, I have gotten on my knees next to my bed and said this prayer in the morning.

We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "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!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

I spend a little time figuring out what the phrase "bondage of self" means to me that day. We can do this whether we're new to the program or have been in it for years.

What are the defects that are bothering us today. Are we feeling jealous of someone's size, beauty, power, weatlth or anything else? Are we obsessing about a specific food even while saying the prayer? Those things sound like bondage to me.

Then it says "take away my difficulties". This is where I ask for help in the things that are facing me for the day. I pray for the health of me and my family -- anything that seems like a difficulty to me.

It says this in the pamphlet "A Guide to the Twelve Steps for You and Your Sponsor":

"A commitment to this step is only a beginning of our understanding of God. A single surrender is not enough. Continuous daily surrender will insure that self-will won't lead us back to our former destructive path."

The OA 12 x 12 asks how we can tell if something is God's will. We "refer to our experience, knowledge, common sense, intuition, and the wisdom of spiritual mentors." It suggests that if we get good results from attending meetings, then we can assume that our attendance at meetings is God's will. In doing work on this step, I know that it is God's will for me to be the very best I can be.

When we face indecision, it suggests that we quietly seek God's will. We don't struggle. "The right answers come to us after we have tried this for awhile."

It also cautions us that we should not assume that every thought we have is inspired by God. We again are encouraged to use our sponsors and spiritual leaders.

And it says that once we have taken the third step, we react to life in a different way. Instead of acting on impulse, we pause to find out the will of our HP. And then instead of resorting to willpower we reach out to that HP.

We can do the third step any time during the day that we feel like self-will is overpowering God's will.

In the OA 12 x 12, it sugguests we use a simple prayer, "God, please help me do your will."

It ends with a promise. "Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover."


1. Have you done sufficient footwork in the first two steps to be able to "turn the key of willingness?"

2. Do you have a plan of eating in place, however simple it may be?

3. Do you have and use a sponsor to guide you with this step?

4. What do the words "bondage of self" mean to you?

5. What do the words "my difficulties" mean to you?

6. Do you see that when you were eating compulsively, that compulsion was a power greater than you were?

7. Are you willing to turn your will and your life, including your food and compulsive behaviors over to your HP? Which behaviors?

8. How does that feel to you?

9. What is your HP's will for you?

10. Does your HP care about details of your life? Are there any areas that your HP does not care about?

11. Have you made progress in turning yourself over to your HP? In what areas?

12. Would you like to share your 3rd Step prayer, if different than the ones in the literature?

Step Two

Step Four

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

Copyright 2004 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved