I have come a long way over the years with this step. I started out afraid of what God’s will might be for me, afraid that it would be a disappointment, not as exciting as my own ideas for my life. I was so used to barreling through life on chutzpah and blind ambition, that the idea of turning my life over to God seemed a little risky, a little extreme, like I would be abandoning all my hopes and dreams for myself. Then little by slowly, I started testing the tool of turning things over, and experiencing situations that surprised me, outcomes that were nothing like I had envisioned but were good for me. That’s when I started to want God’s will for me instead of my own. In fact, all the energy I spent obsessing about things going my way was taking up way too much space in my head, and for what? For my little schemes and plans? A spiritual awakening happened to me, and I realized that I’d rather let go and let God. Life got easier and things turned out more suited to me than ever before. Even when things looked like they went “splat”, eventually even those situation proved beneficial for me. So I did develop a trust, and a reliance upon God that, if I can remember to use it, is always the right way to go for me. A simple example would be job interviews, which used to be fraught with angst. Now I accept that my responsibility is to show up, speak and answer questions to the best of my ability. The rest was up to HP, and if I didn’t get the job, or if I did, I trusted it to be God’s will for me. Sometimes, in early recovery, I’d get up for the day, obsessing about something, knowing that my whole day was going to be me worrying about that thing. The only way I could relieve myself of that obsession was to write the situation on a piece of paper, asking God, in writing, to take it from me, and then I’d burn it - a “burnt offering” it’s called. When it went up in smoke, it was out of my hands, and I could get on with my day.
I believe a lot of why the addict’s world becomes so small, often, is because we insist on controlling everything, as we are becoming less and less capable, or available to handle things. So naturally we reduce the size of our world to keep it somewhat manageable. Another consequence of this control, is how disheartened we become at what we’re capable of. Unable to envision more than we can handle, life feels disappointing. In the rooms of recovery we often hear people reporting that their lives have gotten so big. I believe that is because when we let go of control, God intervenes and guides our lives, we move forward almost effortlessly, and in a way that we could never have imagined.
In early recovery, my sponsors often suggested I read pages 60-63 in the Big Book. I guess it was because I was a know-it-all, literally too smart for my own good. I suggest you all take a look at those pages. They round out the idea that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. Since I have had a ton of unmanageability in my career life (fired from almost every job I ever had for behavioral problems), I particularly found comfort in the phrases, “We had a new Employer . Being all powerful, He provided what we needed,if we kept close to Him and performed His work well”. Suddenly I realized that my job was to show up for my responsibilities, be courteous and honest, and if I did that, the job usually went great. I can report that I have had tremendous recovery in my work life since I became sober and abstinent. I am a valued employee, and regarded very fondly by my co-workers and employers. That is the exact opposite of what it was like before I took the third step.
Another question that daunted me in early recovery, was what God’s will is. How can I do God’s will if I can’t figure out what that is? Well, eventually, through a lot of spiritual study, I came to realize that God’s will is to live life honestly, lovingly, and with a pure heart. Helping others is high on the list also. That’s what I believe “right living” is. I call my understanding with God my covenant with God. I’ll strive to live rightly in all my endeavors, and trust that God will handle the rest. So letting go and letting God now is a great relief to me. I have to admit I am one of the people who can say that sometimes I don’t know what’s right for me, and if I can let go and let God, I find out. The third step prayer in the Big Book, is a prayer thousands of 12 step fellows recite every day. It is the sum total of taking the third step. I recommend that you consider adding it to you daily spiritual practice: 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 power over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, thy way of life, may I do Thy will always”.
Questions for reflection:
The Third Step prayer says “take away my difficulties, so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Love, Thy Power, Thy Way of life”. What does this part of the prayer mean to you and how it would manifest in your life?
Is there something, right now, that is renting a lot of space in your mind? How would you go about using the third step to handle this situation?
When you look over the areas of your life, what area do you think it would be very difficult to trust God to handle for you and why?
In loving service,
The Twelve Steps