Step Three

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

Thus far we have been asked to contemplate some of our behaviors and attitudes.
Now we are being asked to take an action - to make a decision, or a commitment.
It will be the first of many action-oriented commitments.

We are being asked to actively participate in the process.

We are being asked to take OA’s minimum requirement for membership - “a desire to stop eating compulsively” and to turn that into something more – a commitment to be abstinent, and to do it by consciously including our spiritual partner in all that we do.

If you have trouble with the concept of “my will and my life”, just consider your will as your thoughts, and your life as your actions. That made it simpler for me.

And I wasn’t turning it over to God directly. I was turning it over to “the care of God”.

What that meant for me was whether I was truly willing to admit that I could no longer fend off compulsive eating by self-generated ideas, and entrust my recovery and my welfare to my Higher Power.

If you have resistance to this stage of the recovery process, don’t judge it, but ask yourself whether that resistance has brought you happiness or serenity. Have you been living inside of a self-constructed prison…trapped in ways of thinking that have not brought the results that you wanted?

Maybe it’s an authority thing, or the consequences of some sort of neglect, abuse or abandonment. Maybe you’re just afraid to opening what might seem like a Pandora’s box of stuffed feelings. Whatever it is….try to suspend your disbelief, and remember the hope that you feel at OA meetings and know that you are going to be tapping into the Mother Lode of all hope…if you can get out of the way and let it happen.

I had to entrust my every thought & action to this Higher Power – and start asking that He’d give me the ability to tolerate the stresses and pressures of life, especially when things weren’t going my way.

I remember when I started learning to play the guitar. I had all sorts of ideas of the fun I’d have creating music…only what I learned was that before I could do that, I had to build up some calluses on my fingertips, which wasn’t a very pleasant process.

I had always gotten overwhelmed by life. Something would happen that I didn’t expect, I’d get flustered, embarrassed or scared, then I’d shift into a frenetic, fear-based place where I acted impulsively, not really thinking about the consequences of whatever it was I decided (on the fly) to do.

So this was really new for me. I didn’t have to know how it was all going to turn out.
I just had to move in a certain direction, observe, and know that more would be revealed.

Sometimes, I just looked at the suggestions that I got in program as strategies. I hated being told what to do, but I could wrap my head around the idea that I could plug in a new strategy and just track its progress. I could do it… As long as I felt like I was in control, it was easier to go outside om my comfort zone. It was more like a big science experiment for me, in the beginning.

My ADD brain was so hardwired to act without thinking that this was a bold new concept … to insert this newfound “decision” and run my best thinking past God as I understood Him, then wait a while before implementing my master plan…to wait to see if He was going to send me more information… to see if my idea held up under scrutiny.

This added step has probably saved me from more disasters than any other single aspect of my program other than not picking up the first compulsive bite, no matter what (NOTHING is more important than that). Abstinence is the engine that drives the whole operation. I quickly found out that entire alternate universes resided in the space between my thoughts & my actions, and if I put God in there, I was really just giving them a chance to emerge.

I began to give credit to my Higher Power for helping me see them.
I just had to do my part…I had to make the decision to let Him show me.

There were two really cool and empowering things about step three:

  1. I could run into a snag in my master plan, shift gears and pragmatically create an alternate plan without getting angry or too flustered in the process, and
  2. I found that if I wasn’t really sure what to do, I could slooooow down and just be still for a little while, and God would let me to see new options. He gave me inspiration.

Nothing makes an addict feel quite so terrible as feeling trapped, with no real option.
Feeling stuck, in pain, and without an answer usually led to relief-seeking for me.

It got to a point where my mind just went out of its way to stick me in difficult situations for the expressed purpose of hoping I’d self destruct in relief-seeking behavior, which would just enslave me further.

I lost all ability to be flexible, to allow for unexpected obstacles, or choose to see a challenge as something more than a punishment for being a bad person.

The OA 12+12 emphasizes that this is a part of the recovery process where intuition is re-activated. It is restored to something approximating its intended purpose.

I really couldn’t trust my intuition for a long time. If you want to talk about empowerment, here’s where I really began to see evidence that I was headed in the right direction.

Where I had taken action before, complete with all sorts of expectations (and the inevitable disappointments), I was learning to take smaller bites out of life (if I can use a food analogy), and take time to digest them, before taking the next bite.

I was able to see my life and my recovery as a process…a path designed to teach me, not punish me.

I finally found an alternative to the sure-fire bad strategy of reactive living, which led to self doubt, recrimination, shame and the negative voice in my head that was always waiting to tell me what a loser I was. My Higher Power’s voice was a welcome change.

I could make mistakes, and all I had to do is observe and learn. I could give my all in a situation, and as long as I knew I gave my best effort, any “bad outcome” was just an opportunity to reflect on my choices and maybe consider another way of doing things the next time around.

I was finally able to just learn from trial and error…and to know that my imaginary friend (for those still on the fence) was walking along this new path with me.

Assignment for this week.

1) Read Step 3 in the OA 12+12, and Chapter 4 (We Agnostics) in the Big Book.
2) Write a personal prayer, asking your Higher Power for help in specific areas: physically, mentally and spiritually (avoid certain foods, eating behaviors…to remove the need to project negative outcomes…to worry or to criticize). Thank Him/Her/It at night.

This is one that I wrote for myself:

G-d, walk with me through this day, that I feel your presence and know in my heart that you are with me. Go before me during challenging times, so that I will exercise discretion and good judgment when I need it most.

Help me to treat others as I would wish to be treated, and remember always that without You, I would be lost in a world of addiction.

Let me be a shining example to others of the best that OA has to offer, in good times and bad, knowing that in your world, all things are perfect just as they are.

May I do Your will always.

3) Keep track (write down) instances where you’ve seen God working in your life this week, and share them if you like.

For those who aren’t familiar, this is AA’s Third Step Prayer.

“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!”

Neil R.

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