A Study of Step 3

The 12 Steps of A.A. and Al-Anon

Man Alone at a Meeting
A Life-Changing Step. © Getty Images

A lifetime of self-will run riot can come to a screeching halt, and change forever, by making a simple decision to turn it all over to a higher power.

Step 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Many members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Groups and other 12-step programs find a new way of life by "working" the spiritual program found within the steps.

Although that journey begins when they first walk into the rooms, real recovery begins when a decision is made to "let go" of living their lives their way, and turning it over to a power greater than themselves.

Many of us who have found recovery through the 12 steps are amazed to find that as soon as we sincerely take that Step 3, a loving God as we understand Him does actually begin to "care for our lives" in miraculous ways. The key to releasing that power is found in the previous step -- believing that it can and will happen.

The only requirement to change from living a life outside of God's will to one that is guided by the will of God, and place our lives in the hands of a higher power is a simple decision to allow it to happen!

Visitors to this site have taken the time to share their experience on Step 3. Here are some of their observations:

Step 3: Learning and Growing

When I first began to look at this step, I already had a belief in a God, and the step was presented to me that I was to turn my life over to God.

When something bothered me I heard turn it over to God, and like many others I would try and try again and almost always failed, because I kept taking it back to help God finish it (like He really needed my help!)

So I began to learn two things: to really leave something (like my life and will) with God meant leave it and believe He will really guide my life.

Secondly, the reason that was so difficult was because I left some of the step out of my life -- which was "as we understood Him."

No wonder I did not want to trust God with my life, I was clueless as to who He was and what He could do, so I had to make it my business to find out who God was so I could trust Him. As I began that journey, the more I found out about Him, the more of me I wanted to give Him.

Then one day I had realized that He was doing such a great job that I decided to get out of the front seat altogether and climb in the back seat, relax and enjoy the ride. Today riding in the back seat is the best view I have ever had of watching, learning and growing from this God that I understand and love very much.

Life on life's terms may not always be easy, but life on God's terms is, from my experience, much, much easier, and certainly a lot freer. Step 3 has shown me how to take those beliefs of God, put them into action, and how to use God in my life.

Alethea

Step 3: Give Him the Reigns

I thought that I knew God in the midst of my 12 years of living with the family disease of alcoholism.

I busied myself with church functions, and services, never being able to outwardly discuss the problems that were going on at home. I prayed to God for deliverance, at night sometimes I would struggle spiritually in prayer to ward off my alcoholic's tirades. This life was a living hell for all of us.

God had nothing to do with this. But it was only until I came into fellowship that I realized that I had to let go, to get to know my higher power, to let him do his mighty work!

It was like pulling teeth for me to work steps 1 and 2, at this point I'm happy to say that I will always work the steps. I never want to finish!

As I grow, I see that belief systems are fine, but knowing our higher power, working with it, and benefiting from it means to turn your life over, having enough courage to admit that the other life was going nowhere and seeking the real guide of our lives, God. And finally, giving him the reigns.

Elve

Step 3: Opening the Door

This step for me in the beginning was very hard. I was raised to belive that God was a punishing God, The church that I was raised in no mater what you did you were going to Hell, so as a young man I didn't have much faith in a God or any kind or higher power. But every time I was in trouble I would turn to God and ask for help and it surely did come, but I never than God I just went on with my drinking like nothing ever happened.

When coming into Alcoholics Anonymous I found that I had to be willing, Willing to open the door, willing to have an open mind. I had to learn to break away from the self, which was standing in the way of me believing in a HP.

One day while sitting in an AA room waiting for a meeting to start, I saw this Priest come into the meeting, he was the speaker. After the meeting was over he and I did have a long talk and he and I became very good friends. He helped me open that door and to keep it open. He helped me realize that God's love for me was what guided me to AA.

God had never closed the door on me, I was the one who kept closing the door on God, only reaching for him when the need came up. God sits right next to me at all times and when I truly ask for his will be done and not mine, life goes so well, I still try to run the show now and then, but my HP keeps me on the right track, my HP is fun and we have a good time in life, God meant for us to be happy and to help our brothers and sisters.

Step 3 opens the door and enables us to go on with the rest of the steps, without opening this door the rest will be an up-hill battle.

Thy will be done, not mine. It is great to have that kind of friend in my life, all I have to do is my part.

Skip

Key for Living

Step 3 for me is the key for living. Without God and his mercy, I would not be sober, nor serene, nor alive. During my active years of addiction, I pulled away from Him and practiced a selfish, destructive existence. The primary target for destruction was myself. My soul had become atrophic.

I gave my will and my future over to His care by doing Step 3, I then felt a great lifting of the hopeless and depression that had surrounded my being for so many years.

To find this new life of sobriety, I had only to be willing to change. God was waiting for me to trust and honor him, he smoothes my way each day. The God of my understanding wants only the best for us, we must listen and let the miracle of His love shine on our lives.

Carol

Step 3: Still Growing

It is difficult to describe the need I had for this step in my first several months in this program, indeed the need I had for step 3 every day of my waking life! Unfortunately, I didn't know about this step until May 4, 1985, and once I had read it, I began almost immediately to use it.

Getting sober can be a very testy experience at first. Suddenly life as we have known it is out the window, and we are NOT drinking about everything that we used to drink about. Snide remarks, ego challenges, bad weather days, good weather days, whatever our excuse was to drink, we try on a daily basis to not drink. And these major and minor irritations can really grate on our nerves.

I can remember going to meetings right after work wearing a business suit. I did this for my first year and then some. Some people in meetings did not care for me because of the way I was dressed. Some people did not like "businessmen". I endured these passing resentments by reciting step three, reciting the Serenity Prayer, and by asking HP for help. I can remember walking down the street one day thinking about someone's nasty remark and then hearing "Still growing" in my mind's ear. It was the message I needed to get me through that moment. Not only was I still growing, but so was the other person.

We have good days and bad days, highs and lows, peaks and valleys, and smiles and frowns. Any or all of these things were reason enough to drink or drug. When I was confronted with these reasons, I leaned on Step 3.

Sox

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