Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Step Three

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

Ah, Step Three.  How I love it.  We can review the first two steps on page 60:
"(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
 (b) That probably no human power could have relived our alcoholism.
 (c) That God could and would if He were sought. 
Being convinced, we were at Step Three."

I am tempted to go into a long philosophical discussion of Step Three, but I really want to keep this about my own experience with the steps.  This is not intended to be an intellectual exercise, just one alcoholic sharing their own experience, strength, and hope about the steps with another alcoholic.  

My first experience with Step Three was on my second day of sobriety.  I had a little over 24 hours without a drink when I called the woman who 12 stepped me and took me to my first meeting.  At my first meeting the night before, I was given a big book and told to read it.  Well, I read it.  I got to the ninth step and decided there was no way I could do this.  I called B. to thank her for her time (seriously, I really appreciated her time and kindness to me) and to tell her that I could not do this and therefore she would not be hearing from me anymore.  She asked me to get on my knees and pray.

I was highly insulted by the suggestion that some alcoholic would tell ME to pray!  Really.  I had years and years of fine religious education and who was SHE, some drunken bum, to tell ME to pray!?  But for some reason, I got on my knees and prayed.  And having recently read the big book, I used the words "I turn my will and my life over to the care of You."  I really meant it.  I cannot describe the relief that I felt at that moment.  I consider this a spiritual experience.  I felt the relief of knowing I was not carrying the weight of the world.  I knew there was a God and He was going to help me.  I needed plenty of help and I felt certain that I would get it.  I think I was in AA with all my heart and soul from that moment forward.

Later my sponsor and I said the prayer together and I formally took the Third Step.
  • "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, They Love, and Thy Way of Life, May I do Thy will always!" 
As with all the steps, my experience and my understanding have expanded and deepened over the years.  The ups and downs of life, the moments of crisis, the heartbreaks, and the joys have a tendency to allow us to grow - or not.  

Here is one of my favorite experiences with the Third Step:  I was sober fifteen months.  I had a job that I had come to absolutely hate.  The company was dissolving before the owner's eyes and he was extremely angry.  Not wanting to blame himself, he was quick to blame others.  I was his secretary.  He was angry with me a lot of the time.  It frightened me.  I had three small children I was supporting.  My ex-husband was not working.  I felt like the weight of the world was back on my shoulders.  

One night in despair after a particularly bad day at work, I picked up the phone to ask for help.  I called my sponsor, she was not at home.  I called my best friend in AA, she was not at home.  I called my boyfriend, he was too busy to talk to me (not nice!).  I finally called my ex-husband... he suggested I read the big book.  That really made me mad. I was in AA - he was not.  But I picked up the big book and just opened it.  Here is where it fell open:

"First of all, we had to quit playing God.  It didn't work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.  He is the Principal; we are His agents.  He is the Father, and we are His children.  Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.

When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed.  We had a new Employer.  Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. "

I decided that if I had new employer, I really didn't need the old one. I went into work the next day and tried to have a chat with my boss.  When he told me to "get the f*** out of here," I did.  I left the building and never came back.  

In retrospect, I think this sounds somewhat self-serving, but I quit that job, and I had trust in God, really for the first time in my life, that everything was going to be OK.  I didn't have any evidence that it was going to be OK, but I just trusted.  

I was out of work for 6 weeks.  I really needed 6 weeks off at that time.  I got an unexpected check from an insurance company for an old car accident - and that check was more than what I normally would have earned in 6 weeks.  It paid my rent and put food on the table.  I actively looked for work the entire time I was unemployed and ended up with a wonderful job that I loved and paid me more than I made at the other company.  

This experience opened my eyes to an entirely different level of trust.  I had gone around in my first year or so saying that "God will do for me what I can't do for myself, but he won't do for me what I can do for myself."  The problem with that was that I was in charge of deciding what things God could do and what things I could do.  Funny, I decided that most things were in the realm of what I could do for myself.  And what a mess I ended up with!  

When I just trust God, everything is just fine.  It may not look fine at that moment, but I invariably discover later just why things happen the way they do.  

I could write for 12 days about this step alone.  I have had so many wonderful experiences... but that would be too much.

And, since the Third Step is "making a decision," how does one take the action necessary to complete it?  By taking the Fourth Step....


Shadow said...

you gave me goosebumps...

AlkySeltzer said...

That is the most complete and beautiful rendering of third Step 'experiencing' I've read or heard in a long time, Mary. Thank you.

♥Shann♥ said...

ooooh I loove this step, to me it is the most beautiful...
thanks for sharing your ESH with us on the steps.
I wrote about letting go and trusting God too today, even when circumstances are difficult. I am very grateful this is our 3rd step, because I know with out GOD, I am lost, and when I try to run the show I am f&#ked, pardon my french

have a great tuesday..

Kim A. said...

I, also, had what I call a spiritual awakening at the 3rd Step. For me, fear kept me paralyzed for years before Alanon. I had to risk letting go of that fear in order to allow my HP a chance to do something better with my life than I had. I have not looked back since and the miracles, magic, "coincidences" (whatever one calls them) are in my life every day that I begin with humility and gratitude. Simple..yet I'm a slow learner :-)

Lou said...

"An entirely different level of trust". MC, only one year ago I did not know what that meant. But now I do!

dAAve said...

I love Step 3 because when I first used it, it saved my life.

Scott W said...

The powerful first part of my two part punch, pair 3 with 11 and all things are possible! I love third step shares. Thanks.

Just Another Sober Guy said...

Yes! Step 3! What a feeling! We are not alone and we do not have to do it all alone.

What an awesome share! Thank you for sharing this experience with us here.


Syd said...

After I made a decision to turn my life over to God, he's not let me down. Others in life will let me down but not God. If nothing else or no one else is there, God is. Thanks for sharing your experience in the steps.

big Jenn said...

I realized after reading that I've kind of "lived in" step three my whole sobriety. God is why I'm still here, sober,sane, and responding to your blog! I just KNOW this. Even when I am afraid I know that God is in charge and that I'm just being human. Great post, thank you, Jen

Laura said...

MC, your sharing is so relevent and of course real because it's your story.

I have only recently made a conscious effort to get on my knees every night before bed. It's changing my whole relationship with God...and allowing me freedom from worry no matter what's coming along. Thanks for the affirmation that you supplied from Him.