Set Aside Prayer
God, please help me to set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease
These steps and especially You.
I thought I had done this step a long time ago. I had turned my life over to him when I was a young child in church. I was almost offended the first time I tried to take this step. I felt I had already done this step and tried to skim over it. My problem was that I hadnít really learned how to do that. I had come to him and said the words and meant them. But then didnít know how to put my sentiments into action. It wasnít until I got into program that I started to gain the knowledge for how to live my decision here.
Being ready to take Step Three means that you are willing to do Godís will. In my case, I either didnít know how to figure His will or I was ready to question Godís will. Iíd think, "Come on God; am I really to do that? How about I bargain my way out of doing it that way?" In my first years of program, I was still very stubborn in my way of thinking about the steps. I wanted a way to bend Godís will to my own. I still wanted to have my food in the end. My abstinence was conditional. I was fighting it to the end, and I wasnít aware that I was doing that. I thought I was being completely open to God. But I was still waiting for the time I could eat the foods I wanted. I know that as I worked the rest of the steps, my demeanor changed. I canít say exactly what it was that changed it, but I really got it that I could never eat those foods again. I began to accept it.
It was the grief cycle that I got trapped in. I couldnít accept that I had to bid goodbye to these foods. So, Iíd bounce back and forth from the other stages (denial, anger, bargaining (dieting), depression (although I think I might have been depressed through all these stages after awhile)). I would reject acceptance, because I loved my trigger foods way too much. I liked the high Iíd get. The relief from whatever emotion that was too painful to bear. The high would give me a fake happiness I craved so bad. But it was like the definition of evil that a pastor once talked about. He said, "Evil doesnít come saying that itís evil. If it did, no one would fall prey. It comes offering something you want." In my case, I wanted emotional relief. I wanted to feel happy even if it was a fake happiness. In the end, it robbed me of any true happiness I could have felt and kept me immature in my way of dealing with emotional stresses. Yes my disease was evil and wished to destroy me bit by bit. It still does.
So my basic problem was that I didnít want to turn over the directorship of my life to God. I was still trying to direct my life and the lives of those around me. I thought Iíd turned it over, but was blind to the fact that I was still living as the director. Iíd sit and ask God time and time again for what I should do and then do what I wanted to do anyway. Being willing to do Godís will, may mean that I need to ask experts for advice and follow their advice. I may need to do more foot work and go through the embarrassment that I need anotherís help besides the shame I felt for not being autonomous and having to ask God for help. I felt ashamed for being so weak, but found much hope and love from my HP.
The main thing about taking the decision step is the willingness to follow through with the work required from the rest of the steps. The sweeping off our side of the street is really messy the first time through. Many balk and run when they hear they must do the work. But for those of us willing to roll our sleeves up and go through the process, the promises we read in the Big Book are fulfilled every time. Many times we advise to "act as if." Act as if you believe in a God that can restore you to sanity that you can trust to solve your eating problem. Then you give your life and will over to it.
Cement - We are all here because of two things, our common problem and our common solution. Those are the two parts of the cement that binds us together. In Step One, we read the meaning of the spiritual Cement on page 17.
"The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action."
Foundation - A part of the spiritual archway we are building. Big Book Pg 12
"It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend."
Cornerstone - In the Big Book it talks about a cornerstone on page 47. In step two we are given what that means. This is one of the building blocks of our spiritual archway that these steps build.
"As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built."
Keystone - A part of the spiritual archway we are building. Found in the Big Book page 62.
"Next we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our director. He is the Principal; we are his agents. He is the Father, and we are His Children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom."
Decision versus carrying out a decision
Although the step doesnít say that we actually have turned anything over to our HP, we have decided to do it. Many times we donít carry out our decisions, no matter how well intentioned we are.
For instance, Iíve decided to do some exercising in my daily routine. I get up and think Iíll take a walk to get some exercising in. I start by taking a shower and getting ready for my day. I sit down for breakfast and I get a phone call. Itís my friend and theyíve invited me to go to see a movie with them. I go with them, because seeing a movie is fun, and I donít want to miss out. By the end of the day, I realize that Iíve completely skipped my exercising.
In this step, we decide to turn our will over to our HP. We donít actually do it yet. Because I have a spiritual malady, Iím not able to make a conscious contact with God and I canít experience God the way I have to in order to recover. This is carried out in the rest of the steps. Working the steps is what is carrying out that decision.
One sponsor shared that they would renumber the steps like the following in order to drive home this point.
Step 3a = Step 4
Step 3b = Step 5
Step 3c = Step 6
This way everything would fall under Step Three as the carrying out of our decision.
Our Will versus Our Lives
There is a difference with turning our will over to the care of God versus turning our lives over to the care of God as we understand him. Turning our lives over to God can be misunderstood by thinking that we arenít supposed to live our lives anymore. This isnít true. We turn our lives over to the care of God and gain guidance and direction that helps us live our lives happy and joyous when we follow it.
This is a point of free will that my HP always grants me. I can take the guidance and direction that I receive and apply it to my life. Usually itís simple to define but hard to do. One person described it as taking his broken car to a mechanic. He didnít turn over the car as it was his car and he wanted to continue driving it. The mechanic fixed the problem and now he can drive it again without problems.
Sometimes people have gotten confused and didnít know what or how they should live their lives. Iíve been asked questions like, "What about my dreams and aspirations? Am I supposed to just give up on all those now?"
Of course the answer is no. We are all individual with different likes and dislikes etc. That is why we continue to live our lives, but only in the care of our HP. He fixes us so we can sanely face the world and live a happy joyous life.
Part of the requirements for Step Three is to be utterly convinced that we cannot run our lives through our own will. We turn over our will because we are convinced that running our lives on self-will doesnít work. This is a requirement discussed on page 60 in the Big Book.
If we are honestly looking at our lives, we can see that we orchestrate our problems over and over again trying to overcome them. We try to control, manipulate, rage, resent, and sulk at others who are not doing what we think they should be. We see the world through our eyes and canít see how anything could be any different. We are too close to the forest to even see the trees. Weíve been running on our own power, trying to bend the world to our own view point. We can think we have had the best of intentions, but the result is almost always the same. Our lives are unmanageable.
We in essence are playing God. A God not from the viewpoint of unconditional love, but rather of one trying to get our own needs, wants, and desires fulfilled. We can excuse or dismiss our behavior, by our own rationalizations, but the result is still the same. Our lives are unmanageable. Our relationships are strained, and our self-esteem is bottomed out. This is how weíve been selfish and self-centered. We canít change it, and we have to have Godís help.
This brings us to the next requirement discussed in the Big Book on page 62. "First of all we had to quit playing God. It didnít work."
Then we needed to put a new being in charge. This is the next requirement to fulfilling Step Three (also on page 62 in the Big Book).
"Next we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our director: He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father; and we are His children."
Once we get to this point, the promises start getting fulfilled.
- Read pages 60-63. What are the sentences that convinced you that your life cannot be run on self will, and you have to surrender your life to the care of God?
- The Big Book says that "we had to quit playing God" How do we play God?
- The big book says that we must be rid of our selfishness or it will kill us. It does not say that we must be rid of our drinking (eating trigger foods) or it will kill us, How come? Share your understanding with us.
- The Big book says that our troubles are of our own making
Do you agree with this sentence? What about other people who abuse us, rob us, kill us, etc.., what about illness and accidents? How do all these fit with that sentence? Can you identify with the saying that this sentence gives us great hope?
- Are you convinced that life run on self-will can hardly be a success? Are you ready to quit playing God? Do you decide that God is going to be your director, your principal, and you his agent? If you can sincerely answer YES to the above you are ready to take Step Three.
- Read the chapter 'How It Works' from page 63 to the end. From this reading you should be able to answer the following questions:
a) How long do we have to wait between steps three and four?
b) This step draws a map of what the illness does to us what are the three main things that are dealt with by this step?
c) Why are resentments called the number one offender?
d) Copy the sentences that describe their effect on us.
e) Copy the sentences that describe what fear does to us.
f) Do you agree with the sentence faith means courage? Share with us.
- Share your understanding of the following words in this chapter:
- Re-Read the paragraph at the top of the page of 63 in the Big Book. What are the Third Step promises?
Readiness to Move to the next step
The big book describes the process of taking the first three steps as building an arch through which we pass to freedom. There is the foundation, the cement that holds the stones together, corner stones at both sides of the arch, and the keystone at the top. Read the following pages and copy the sentences that explain what the foundation, the cement (two parts), the corner stone and the keystone stand for. Pages, 12, 17, 47, 62,
Share with us.
After taking Step Three do you feel that you passed through the arch to freedom?
Remember freedom is also a process in this program.
If you have, say the third step prayer to your sponsor (on page 63 of the Big Book):
"God, I Offer myself to Thee-to build with me and 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"