Here are some questions which pertain to Step 3.
1. What does it mean to you to make a decision? How will you know you have made that decision? How will others know you have made that decision? How long does a decision stay in effect?
2. The AABB (Alcoholics Anonymous...aka Big Book) talks about self-will run riot; that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. How do you see your will? As a bad thing, to be wrestled into submission, or as a gift from God?
3. What does it mean to you to turn your will and your life over to the care of God?
4. The first several times I read this step, upon coming into program, my eyes skipped right over the words “the care of”. What difference do these words make to you?
5. How do you now understand God?
6. What would it take to get you to a place where you believe that making this Step 3 decision would be a good idea? If you are not yet ready, could it be that you have more work to do on the previous steps? I have found that if I got stuck at a step, it usually meant that I had not yet dug deep enough in the previous step(s)....
7. Are you willing to turn parts of your will and life over, but not all? Is this an all or nothing step, in your opinion? Is all or nothing different from perfection?
8. Harry Haroutunian, MD, in his book Being Sober, paraphrases the first three Steps like this: “Step 1 ~ There is a power that wants to kill me. Step 2 ~ There is a power that wants me alive. Step 3 ~ Do I want to live or die?” Do you want to live or die? Why?
9. When I was in college, there was a saying going around that went something like this: If it were against the law to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
If you have taken Step 3...or are about to....I challenge you to consider what the outward and visible signs of this might be.....If it were against the law to take Step 3, what evidence would there be to convict you? What changes in behavior, attitude, and thoughts do you look for in yourself as a result of taking Step 3? How will taking this step CHANGE you? What footwork are you willing to do in order to make space for HP to work IN you?
10. What blessings do you expect to see when you turn your will and life over to the care of God, as you understand God?
11. What blessings do you expect to be able to share when you turn your will and life over to the care of God, as you understand God?
12. The principle that is underneath Step 3 is Faith. Faith is a confidence or trust in a person or thing...a belief that is not based on proof. It is Indiana Jones taking the first step off the cliff BEFORE the bridge becomes visible. (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) In what do you place your faith as you take your first (perhaps faltering) steps through Step 3? Is faith a stagnant thing? Are there things you can (or will) do to help it grow?
13. If you will, in whatever bodily position you feel closest to your HP, say the 3rd Step prayer. Feel free to adapt the words to words that work for you, if 1939 language gets in the way of your connection with your HP:
“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 will always.” (p 63 AABB)
14. Most of us came into these rooms to lose weight, stop purging, stop stealing food, stop starving ourselves, stop over-exercising, or to stop some other form of insanity. But the 3rd Step prayer makes it clear that we take this step, not for our own benefit alone, but as a FIRST STEP of service. How does service fit into your recovery?
15. What does this say about God’s will for our lives?
16. Keep a list this week of the opportunities that God presents to you to serve others....opportunities which may have been there all along, but which we have been blind to see, because of our disease.
Here are my answers to these questions:
To me, to make a decision involves not just thinking, but follow-up action and follow through. It reminds me of the joke: Five birds are sitting on a wire. Three decide to fly away. How many birds are left on the wire? Two? NO....FIVE...they only decided to fly away, they didn’t actually DO IT! I will know I have made that decision to turn my will and my life over to God when my will is aligned with God’s and my life changes. I would LOVE to say that this is a once and for all decision but I need to make it daily—or more often—because my faith is quick to waver, and my disease’s stinkin thinkin sounds comfortingly familiar. Hopefully after I have a few decades of recovery under my belt, I will be quicker to toss that stinkin thinkin out on its ear.
I do not believe that my self-will is a bad thing. I believe it is a gift from God, and as such, cannot be inherently bad. However, I can certainly mis-use it, either intentionally or because of the training I received as a child. My prayer around my will is that God align my will to his/hers....for that is, I believe, the way it was intended to be used. I do not want God to remove it from me (more on this in Step 7), but certainly it needs to be redirected and re-energized with God’s power and love.
For me, to turn my will and my life over to the care of God means that I no longer have to have the impossible responsibility to run the whole show. I can give up the driver’s seat on the bus. I can relax into the loving arms of a HP who cares for me, cares about me and cares about my recovery. I can be human. I believe I am like an electric lamp that doesn’t shine. My ‘owner’ changes the light bulb. Nothing. Then she gets a lighter shade. That doesn’t help. She moves me closer to the window...perhaps I’ll get the idea from the sunlight streaming in. Finally she gives up, and throws her clothes on top of me. (Like I did the treadmill, the stationary bicycle, the rowing machine LOL). One day, a stranger came in...noticed how dark it was in the room and said, “Why don’t you turn on the light?” “It doesn’t work” was the reply. The stranger looked around....thought for a moment, and said, gently, “Have you tried plugging it in?”
Turning my will and life over to the care of God means plugging myself in to the only power that will never fail me. I do this willingly, of my own volition, knowing that over THIS, I have total control.
At first, turning my will/life over to God was a daunting prospect because I didn’t trust God any further than I could throw God. But as I worked my Step 2, and came to understand God differently, and then saw the words THE CARE OF, I realized that I wasn’t turning my life over to the punishment or anger or revenge or hatred or neglect of God, but over to the best that could possibly be God. That made it not only possible, but a good idea to put my life in such a God’s hands. I now see God as a loving being, whose lap I can figuratively crawl into and know that I am welcome, loved and accepted just as I am. (and so much more.)
I did Steps 1,2,3 THREE times.....pages and pages of typing each time...before I could finally get into Step 4. I didn’t see this as failure, but as an indication that I had more that I could release, if I were willing...and I was willing.
When I began Step 3, my turning over was conditional and minimal. My first 3rd Step prayer went something like, “God, I don’t believe for a second that there is anything out there that gives a rip, but if there is, I could use a little help here!!” Not at all gracious....said with a huge chip on my shoulder....but it was sincere, and apparently enough. My Step 3s have been more and more gracious as my recovery has progressed, but I am not sure they could become more sincere! At this point, I am not aware of areas where I am holding back, but that ebbs and flows too....recovery is a journey, not a destination, and sometimes the tides of my old thinking draw me back to former places....but I don’t stay there as long, for which I am grateful.
I definitely want to live. I was a sickly baby, and my parents were told not to bother sending me to school, because I would not live that long. I recently celebrated my 60th birthday....so na na na boo boo to that doctor! I have always been a fighter (when I wasn’t running away!)...a fighter to live...and once I realized that 12 Steps was a path to really living...once I realized how unmanageable and insane my life really was, I became willing to do everything I could.... I couldn’t do it all, I couldn’t do it perfectly, but what I could do, I did. I TOOK BACK MY LIFE.....I WANT TO LIVE!!!!!!!!!
Once I had taken Step 3 the first time, I recognized some significant behavior changes right away. My use of my time changed to make room for 90+ meetings in 90 days. My hubby spent the next 2 weeks bringing home every (and I mean every) trigger food I ever ate, and leaving them out where I could not possibly miss them...and I had NO desire to eat them. I spent time watching my fellows’ behaviors, and watched for where I could imitate those behaviors instead of continuing with my old habits. I actually took time to connect with my HP. And released my temptation to beat myself up all the time. I ate, slept, read, dreamt and lived program. I had the Gift Of Desperation and GOD was driving my days and nights. And I was grateful.
Such blessings! I was free from fear. Food no longer has power over me. I may still eat in non-abstinent ways, but it is now MY choice....not a compulsion. I can live a life of gratitude. I can feed my body healthy fuel, and go to a grocery store and recognize the difference between food and not food, and be grateful. I only eat what I love, but I don’t eat everything l love. I have a new family that loves me until I can love myself. I have a little sis in program, a wonderful sponsor, wonderful sponsees....service to do....and so much more.
The greatest blessing I have to share as I make my Step 3, is HOPE. I can share the hope of recovery with those who still suffer in and out of these rooms, because I am living that life.
For me, I placed my trust in a God I didn’t trust, didn’t believe in, didn’t think cared about me...but someone told me to trust, so I did my best. And it was enough. Nowadays, I trust in a God whom I have met through the faith of those who have gone before me, who walk beside me, and who follow after me. Every day of recovery is another grain of sand in the beautiful desert of recovery. Footprints in the sand show that I am carried, that I carry, and that we are all going together. I can’t always see the bridge, but I see that others have gone that way, and I trust that I will get there too. The most important thing I can do to help my faith grow is to ACT....act as if, do the next right thing, follow all the action verbs in the steps: admitted, came to believe, made a decision, made an inventory, admitted, were ready, asked, made a list, made amends, continued, sought, tried to carry. Action is the key to recovery: physical, spiritual and emotional. We cannot think our way into right action, but we can act our way into right thinking.
God, I offer myself to you....I trust you to use me and to strengthen me according to the best dream you could possibly have for me. Help me stay out of your way—to stay out of ‘Me-ville’—and align my will with yours. Give me the gift of recovery, so that people can see You and Your love through my new life in you. May I always walk on the path that you have chosen for us to take together. Amen.
Service is critical to my recovery. I started sponsoring at day 44, and that willingness to serve closed the back door I had unknowingly left open so I could sneak out if this got too hard! God has given me a gift of writing, and I have been able to use it in service to others who are on this healing journey. Service brings me in contact with fellows that have ESH I need, and who might benefit from my ESH....and keeps me from isolating.
I believe that God’s will for us is to be in community...with God and with others...and service is one way to ensure that we stay in community. It is such a gift!
This week I have been able to do service on my loops, in my f2f, for my state convention, with my sponsees and sponsor. I have also been able to serve my family, the children I teach, my worship community, I have been able to do service to myself as I work to find God’s will in an unhealthy marriage.
Blessings to all, Hugs, Lainey
The Twelve Steps
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