Step 3 of the classic AA 12 step program goes hand in hand with step 2. Step 3 states “We’ve made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Many may think that this is almost a mirror of step two. The purpose of step 3 is to move from thinking of the concepts of higher power and surrender to taking action towards this commitment. Step 2 is “believing,” while Step 3 moves to “turning over”. It’s time to take action.
Understanding AA’s 12 Steps: Step 3
How does one “turn over” one’s own will and life? When decisions arise in our lives, what is the first thing most people do? We immediately look introspectively for an answer or coping strategy. We instantly think of how this will affect “me”? This type of thinking will damage the humility we built in step two. Instead we look to our chosen higher power for guidance. This act of thinking outside of ourselves first in all things furthers our road to recovery.
The act most AA participants use to achieve this is the serenity prayer. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.” This prayer can help center our focus and is applicable to almost any situation. This shows that we are giving control over to the higher Power but we are still the ones taking the action.
It’s important to make a plan for letting that higher power into our lives. It’s about trust. The trust that things will be what they need to be. Trust that since there can be no controlling life, we need to let go and enjoy the ride. It is also about realizing that there is no choice other than to do so. There is no real control only the temporary illusion of control. The secret to a happy life (and to addiction recovery) is to realize that you are never actually in control. Our plan must include this realization.
Our plan must include consistent interaction with this higher power. This may come through church or being highly involved with an organization associated within the community. Using the serenity prayer quite often needs to be one of the central pillars of the plan. This plan must be concrete, an active personal philosophy. In other words it must become almost like ritual letting the repetition help us in our acceptance of it. Don’t be overwhelmed. Depend on your support system to help. Trust in that which is greater than your own ego. Live for more than just yourself. Act with higher intentions in mind than pure self gratification. Such is the path out of substance addiction.
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