Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous:
We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
“Bullshit walks and action talks,” said my sponsor, on promising him this written assignment by Sunday. Believe it or not, this simple and potentially provocative statement has a great deal to do with step three.
Because step three has everything to do with surrender I assumed for the past few months that it wasn’t about what I did but about what God did and would do. I think I was right, but I was also wrong. Step three I am learning, from my sponsor and my own experience, is an action step. My higher power will not take control of my life unless I offer it up–so, the action part of this step is willingness. I have to be willing to turn my will and my life over to God, as I understand him.
This is not an easy thing to do–at least for me. I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a control freak. Left to my own devices, I am a very controlling, manipulative person. I have learned this behavior from my ego which doesn’t want me to look stupid, ignorant–doesn’t want me to be embarrassed or not have the right answer–doesn’t want me to say “I don’t know”. My ego wants me to control everything and everybody around me so there are no “unknowns” left to baffle my intellect. But it never works. Trying to control situations just leaves me feeling frustrated, anxious and alone.
I think it’s really beautiful that God asks for my willingness every day. He doesn’t assume that we do but He waits expectant for me to extend my hand and say, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
This reminds me of a favorite verse of mine from the Scriptures: “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7)
My self-will is stubborn and resilient. This is a continual process for me to surrender the circumstances and choices of my life over to God. But the alternative is empty and full of my own ego which would quickly lead me back to satisfying my human needs in destructive ways.
I love the Third Step Prayer found on page 63 of the AA Big Book:
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.