Step Three

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

My Dearest Companions on the Journey of Recovery,

I was impressed and fascinated in reading the descriptions of your HPs. I want you to know that in all the creativity and diversity, each one of us can encounter the God of our understanding. God is expansive enough for all of us. Someone referred to the "HP which was indicated in the question." I had no preconceived notion of what the Higher Power of any one of you would be. What is critical, is that this person, entity, concept, or what have you, can and will restore you to sanity.

Your petitions were beautiful and, once again, your HP is willing and able to provide those deep desire for you.

Now, with God of your understanding in your hand and heart, please join me in deepening this relationship.

Step 3 -   Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God    as    we    understood    Him.

Step Three brings us to a choice. If we have successfully completed the first two Steps, we are now ready to make a decision to rebel or recover. We can continue our hopeless path to a dead end with slavery to food through the use of self will. Or we can turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power.

Steps One and Two begin the process of change. Step Three is an action Step. It requires us to do more than change our thinking. It asks us to change our behavior and actively choose recovery.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous affirms, “Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God’s intention for us.” The insanity of my life, as related in the First Step, and the errant conviction that I was in control of it distanced me from relationship with HP and others. I would fire the manager of THAT life and hire someone more competent, wouldn’t you?!

There is no way to completely understand the vast mystery of a Higher Power. But I do believe that only a power stronger than my addiction can restore me to sanity. The HP of my transformed understanding, as described in my Second Step, is someone to whom I can decisively turn my life over. This trust and surrender has not come painlessly or effortlessly, but there are concrete examples of my turning my will and my life over to HP.

The primary and most critical of these is my food addiction and obsession with weight. I now know that it is not HP’s will for me to ingest massive quantities of food that will damage my body rather than nourish it.

I now rely on HP to fill the vast emptiness that I previously attempted to stuff with food and achievement. The more food I crammed into that infinite space, the larger it became. The more I tried to redeem myself for who I was, through overwork and achievement, greedily seeking affirmation and public recognition, the more unfulfilled I felt. I now rely on HP to give me the gift of awareness that allows me to see myself realistically and compassionately.

I have turned over my goals and dreams to HP. I now understand that if I give myself wholeheartedly to ministry, relationships, my own recovery, and sharing the message with others, what I do and who I am will be enough. I do not have to frantically and compulsively search for ways to prove my worth. I feel deeply that my dreams are congruent with HP’s will. After all, who placed them in my heart to begin with? But what I must turn over to HP is the outcome, the manner in which they manifest themselves.

I have a tendency to plan a day down to the final detail, and then get my undies in a bunch about whether or not things will go my way. I have heard it said that if you want to hear HP laugh, make plans! Here in Ecuador, many bus and taxi drivers have religious messages on their vehicles. One day, as I was walking down the street obsessing about the planned trajectory of my day, I passed a cab with the following message in its window: Solo Dios sabe mi destino. (Only God knows my destination.) I laughed out loud in the street. HP was sending me a clear message.

When we are aware, HP sends us all kinds of messages that we need, if we are ready for and open to them. Excess food and willfulness block our awareness, readiness, and openness. These attitudes are wonderful tools in discerning HP’s will. Sometimes this discernment is not clear or easy. The best definition of HP’s will that I have heard is a loving agenda. HP’s will is that I do the most loving action called for in each life circumstance, for myself and others, regardless of the consequences.

Surrendering, or turning my will and life over to HP, however, does not mean that I am simply a passive and apathetic recipient of HP’s benevolent kindness. I have a critical, crucial, and active role to play. I have heard the saying, “Trust HP, but continue to row to shore.” When I am faced with a decision or a conflict, I ask myself, “Is there something I can do about this immediately?” If the answer is yes, I act. If the answer is no, I ask God to handle the situation and alert me when my participation is required. Of course, my participation in recovery is always required through using the tools and working the Steps.

Turning my life over and surrendering to HP completely and without reservation is a practice I need to cultivate daily through prayer, openness, and willingness. The principle behind Step Three is faith. I ask HP continually for the courage and wisdom to do Her will. If I depend on HP, my mind and heart will be free from obsession about food, future, my worries and anxieties, depression, and compulsive behavior. This freedom liberates me to live and enjoy life and to give myself wholly, joyfully, and healthily to my ministry, my relationships, and to life. It is in freedom that I am liberated to do the will of HP.

Questions for Reflection and Sharing

  1. How have I tried to “bombard my problems with willpower?”
  2. What are some examples of what I have turned over or that I am willing to turn over to HP?
  3. What are some blocks or resistances to turning my will and my life over to HP?
  4. Am I aware of messages that HP sends me? How so?
  5. What is my definition of surrender?
  6. Read the “Acceptance Prayer” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. (4th Edition, page 417 “And acceptance is the answer…..” How do I resonate with this prayer?
  7. The Third Step Prayer is in the AABB (4th Ed.) on page 63, 2nd paragraph, “God, I offer myself….” When you are ready to turn your will and your life over to the care of HP, find someone you trust to whom you can commit this prayer. You may use the version in the AABB or write your own. After you have done this, share your experience with the loop.

Suggested Readings

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous (Big book) (4th Ed.) pages 58-63.

  2. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous - Step 3

  3. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous - Step 3


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