Step Two

Came to believe that a Power greater
than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 2
Step 3

Leader's Share and Step Questions

3—Steps 2 and 3—Hope and Decision

Welcome to Week 3 of the Working the Steps study for the first quarter of 2015. I am Cindy M., a compulsive overeater in recovery, thankful to share with you in this study. If you have just joined us, I encourage you to go back to Week 1 and start there.

Step 2--Hope

Came to believe
That a Power greater than ourselves
Could restore us to sanity.

I am a Christian and was wary of 12-step recovery because I didn’t think it had a robust enough acknowledgement of my faith. And Lawrie C., who addresses these things in his own presentation of the steps, is an agnostic/atheist. Surely he had some troubles with 12-step recovery as well, from the opposite direction! I am thankful that our plan of recovery can work for everyone.

This is Step 2 now, “Came to believe . . .” I consider myself a strong lifelong believer (not that there’s virtue in that—it’s just part of who I am). But I am shy about believing that God actually cares about my eating. How many times have I begged and pleaded with God to take this awful thing from me?! What misery! But for me, too, it was a matter of taking those twelve steps and finding the miracle.

Whether we have a fully-developed, partially-developed, stunted, expired, or nonexistent faith, we all as human beings have a spiritual dimension, and to ignore that dimension is to lose knowledge of ourselves and to miss out on the full experience of being human. But our addictions and our life experiences often hinder us from living out our spiritual sides, or from having access to the God we say we believe in. Some in recovery call it being “blocked,” and they say that taking the steps will “unblock” our access to our Higher Power.

In very practical terms, to get beyond Step 2 we just have to have done Step 1, to know we’re powerless, and to believe that somewhere out there somebody or something is more powerful than we are and is able to give us the power we lack. Can you go that far? Have you seen people recover from addictions through the twelve steps? If you need reinforcement here, go back to Week 1 and the list of resources and listen to a few podcasts, particularly about Step 2. Or read some of the stories in the back of the Big Book.

  • How do you feel about this Higher Power you’re going to be depending on with Steps 3 and beyond? What is your experience with God or with a Higher Power of some kind? (If you struggle, see the additional resources at the end of this lesson, below.)
  • Can you believe that your concept of a Higher Power is ABLE (and willing) to restore you to sanity? Did you know you weren’t sane?
  • If you can’t believe it yet, what will it take for you to “come to believe?”


Step Three

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

Step 3--Decision

The next step is that simple—a decision. If you like what the recovered people around you have got and want to have it for yourself, you can decide to go for it! That is asking your Higher Power, however you define it, to give you power you don’t have in yourself. You’ve already admitted you’re powerless and there IS some power somewhere else—this step just means deciding to take advantage of that power. Who wouldn’t?!

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

Once we come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can help (Step 2), we decide to make a transaction—through prayer or a personal resolution or declaration if “prayer” seems too religious. It’s an effort of the will, then enacted through a bit of ritual. The prayer itself is simple but powerful, and I meditate on it often, to turn over the words and consider their import:

    Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: “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!” We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him. (Big Book, p. 63)

  • Have you made the decision?
  • Have you said the prayer or otherwise committed yourself to your Higher Power?
  • How do you feel so far?

Congratulations! You’ve completed Steps 2 and 3! Next week we begin Step 4--Paperwork.

Please write me privately at if I can answer any questions as you work through the study. I want it to be as helpful a study as it can be, and your feedback helps me do that!

For Those Who Have Time: Reading, Higher Power Job Description, More of My Story, and Abstinence and the Plan of Eating

For Step 2, in the Big Book read Chapter 4, and in the 12-and-12 read “Step Two,” or the abbreviated portions outlined in the Week 1 resources for Back to Basics. For Step 3, read in the Big Book Chapter 5, about half of it, and in the 12-and-12 “Step Three.”

Higher Power Job Description--My own sponsor has many years of experience in recovery in several areas, and she says that many of us have tentative or problematic relationships with our Higher Power, or even the concept of HP, often because our poor relationships with our own parents—our first models of Higher Power. She has sponsees write a job description of HP, of the characteristics they would want a Higher Power to have, and what they want from HP through their step work and through their lives. Her first characteristic for hers is “unconditional love.” Mine, because of my love of security, might be that my HP must really be ABLE to have “the whole world in His hands.” If you’d like to include such a list in your work this week, please do so!

More of My Story--I want to offer a little testimony to the surprising power of prayer. I went on a spiritual healing retreat early in 2014, thinking I had “business” to do in grieving my mother’s death several months earlier, but I also knew I had recovery issues to deal with as well, and I was just open to whatever God had for me. It was a powerful time, but it took an unexpected turn. At one point we were invited to go and meet with a couple of other people who were there to pray with those who wanted prayer to “process” particular difficult things in their lives. I took to them something I hadn’t expected to deal with at this retreat, something I had never really spoken aloud to anyone. But I was feeling recklessly open to it, after the positive affirmations of the retreat, and I said aloud these difficult things. The couple prayed for me, and over the course of the next two days I felt my spirit discernibly lightened—something really changed in me that day. And I have had a very different level of abstinence since then. It is as if my Higher Power took that moment of prayer—on something unrelated to my eating, seemingly—and used it as an occasion to just kind of pull together my surrender and the miracle that was waiting for me. Praying aloud is powerful.

Abstinence and the Plan of Eating--Some folks in 12-step recovery for eating problems hold to very rigid eating plans and require their sponsees to do the same. I heard of one sponsor who forbade her sponsee from having a romantic relationship since she didn’t have one herself! I’ve changed my own POE over the months and am still learning a lot about the food and about myself. One thing is sure, though—you really need to be walking in abstinence as you take the steps. Yes, it’s possible to do the Step 4 inventory without good abstinence, but you are bound to miss a lot and have a skewed perception of what you do complete. You should be under the care of a sponsor now to guide you in establishing at least a basic form of abstinence—something like three meals a day and abstaining from your most problematic foods. As you increase in health of mind and body you can refine your practice. I do counsel that you not combine your abstinence with a rigid “diet” at the same time. Don’t let bodily hunger to confuse your experience of craving and obsession.

To learn about options for a plan of eating to support your recovery and help you define your abstinence, you should work with your sponsor and/or a health care professional who understands our particular challenges. This is a “hot topic” for many in our fellowship, but in my experience the ones most calm about plans of eating and abstinence are those who have real recovery. My own plan of eating has changed through my recovery, and I have found wisdom and healthy patterns for myself in variations on a whole foods plan: healthy vegan/vegetarian at one end of the spectrum and more primal/lower-carb on the other end. What’s amazing is that once we have recovery in our heads and hearts, we can actually calmly evaluate our plans of eating to find what works best for us, always willing to reconsider. If a food is a non-negotiable, chances are it’s a problem! With that in mind, consider these possible (and possibly conflicting) resources:, a,, and

Answer the questions below if you would like to.

  • Are you comfortable with your POE (Plan of Eating) and your abstinence at this point?
  • What is your POE like? Can you share a bit for others on the list? I think we’re all curious about what others do.

Blessings in Recovery,

Cindy M.

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