The third step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous Reads as follows:
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
In step 3 AA, members are asked to make a decision. Being willing to turn one’s will over to God or a “higher power” is vital because it allows us to unburden ourselves and see things more clearly.
Turning Over Our Will in Step 3 AA
After we have worked through the first two steps, we have learned and accepted that our lives have become unmanageable. We admit that we are, indeed, alcoholics and that a power higher than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
Now, we can surrender our lives unmanageability. We can let go of a life of self-will operating unchecked by deciding to surrender it over to a higher power and allow something else to care for us. We can stop banging our heads against the wall, trying to force everything to happen as if we ourselves are in charge of everything in our lives.
Recovery is inherently a spiritual process, and during step 3, hope, faith, and trust are fostered, allowing us to take a deep breath and feel calm and peaceful again. In step three, members are asked to surrender their will, and as a result, will be restored to truth, honesty, stability, and peace of mind.
Step 3 AA: Seeking Knowledge
When working through step 3, we examine how acting merely on self-will means engaging in behaviors that are bereft of consideration for others. We have been obsessed with fulfilling our own desires for alcohol and neglecting the needs and feelings of others around us. While we were busy following our impulses, we left devastation behind us and became disconnected from our conscience and our higher power.
While working through step 3, however, we begin to turn our attention to understanding what our higher power’s will is for us. Making the decision to surrender our lives and will doesn’t do us any good unless we take action. Merely deciding without supporting it with the necessary action has little to no meaning whatsoever.
In AA, many beneficial recovery tools have been effective at sustaining long-term sobriety and a relationship with God or a higher power. Most people have heard of the “Serenity Prayer,” a simple statement adapted from a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. Reciting this prayer can help alcoholics as they are seeking knowledge and make the decision to surrender each day:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Using this prayer, we can learn to accept with peace the current reality of our condition. And while it’s true that we cannot control the decisions and actions of others, we can, however, decide how we will act in any given situation. We may not be able to change everything in our life, but we can choose to be willing to surrender, trust, and cultivate knowledge.
Understanding God as We Know Him
For some people, the idea of “God” isn’t something to be entertained. Some grow up in strict, religious homes, and this experience has left a bad taste in their mouths. Many others are atheists or have a different brand of spirituality than those who identify as Christian, Muslim, or Jewish. Requiring someone to turn their will over to a higher power in these situations can seem like a lot to ask.
Those who have not previously believed in a higher power can be relieved to know that, in AA, you do not have to accept anyone else’s interpretation of “God.” Instead, you have the freedom to identify your own idea of who God or your higher power is for yourself.
Some must put away prejudice and foster the willingness to seek a connection with a “Power greater than ourselves.” That higher power can be God, other creative forces, a oneness with nature or the universe, the possibilities are vast.
Getting Help for Alcoholism
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship that has been offering vital support to countless alcoholics over the past few decades. It’s important to note, however, that research shows that long-lasting sobriety is best achieved using twelve-step programs as a part of a broader, much more comprehensive treatment approach.
Recovery By The Sea offers group support in addition to evidence-based services, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and aftercare planning. Our skilled, caring staff are committed to ensuring that every client is given the tools they need to recover fully and enjoy long-term sobriety and wellness.
If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery and reclaim the life you deserve, contact us today and find out how we can help!