Step 3: Made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I understood God.
The Spiritual Principle behind Step 3 is Faith. (Willingness to surrender to the process laid out before us)
In Richard Rohr's book, Soul Brothers, he made the statement that: "We clearly come to God not by doing it right, but ironically by doing it wrong." Amen. God has used my own sinfulness, guilt, shame and despair as an invitation and a calling to come to know Him. May I come to know him now.
I always thought that the 3d Step says that: “we turn our will and our life over to the care of God.” What it really says is that I: “make a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God.” So I need to understand that a decision – which is defined as: “making up my mind,” is important, but I need to also understand that a decision doesn’t in and of itself make things happen. If I make a decision to come to this meeting – I must then follow-up that decision with an action to get in the car and drive here. For any decision to mean anything, it always requires further action.
The first three steps are designed to bring us to the point where we become willing to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power. Steps 4 through 9 are how we turn our will and our life over, by removing the blocks that prevent us from actually doing so; and the last three steps are how we KEEP our will and our lives turned over to God indefinitely.
In the spirit of making a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God- I now look back to Step 1 & 2.
Step 1 helped me figure out where I am; Step 2 – helped me figure out where I’m going – which is my personal vision of sanity. In making a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God – I take the Spiritual principle of honesty in Step 1 and the spiritual principal of hope in Step 2 and decide:
- What am I willing to surrender (in other words what am I willing to change) in order to be restored to sanity?
- What am I willing to accept (in other words what is it that I cannot change) in order to be restored to sanity?
These are the things I’m willing to surrender (my fears):
My resentments, fears, past humiliations and anger.
- Occasional Resentments . . . against wife, boss, friends, enemies, etc.
- Fears . . . of the unknown. Fear of failure. Anxiety over the future and events I cannot control. Fear of intimacy. Fear of being found out. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of being vulnerable. Insecurity based on physical and monetary fears.
- Past humiliations . . . I still suffer from the people that have hurt me when I was younger, especially those that took advantage of me or made me feel stupid.
- Occasional Anger . . . road rage; too much of mandatory fun or commitments made that I don't want to honor.
My low self-esteem and feelings of unworthiness manifested:
- In my need for approval by others; in my people pleasing behavior ~ acting in a way that gives my power away to others. Subordinating my feelings to those of others. Defining myself by how others think or feel about me or by placing more importance on their thoughts about me than on my own thoughts.
- In my need for control . . . trying to control the uncontrollable. By giving others power over me to influence my feelings about myself, especially as it relates to work, I am more apt to try to control those things that are close to me: My wife, my children, my home, my finances and my immediate environment.
- In my need for peace at any price. This is mostly about being afraid of feeling; not being able to talk about my feelings; not being comfortable with my feelings; not being able to express my feelings to another; revealing my feelings to others.
- In my own negative self-talk and feelings of unworthiness: especially, when I fell like “I don’t deserve” . . . “I haven’t worked hard enough” . . . “I was just lucky” . . . “I don’t belong” . . . “I’m not good enough” . . . “others are better and more deserving . . . “I’m not smart enough.” I surrender my negative self-talk and feelings of unworthiness.
- My bad attitude . . . I keep forgetting that everyday I have a choice. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be unhappy. If I’ve got a bad attitude or a negative, critical, apathetic, or arrogant attitude, I have to learn that it is my fault. It’s not the fault of my spouse, children, boss, weather, or whatever.
My selfishness; self-centeredness, and in my envy of others.
- Selfishness and self centeredness. I never ask what I can do for others (unless of course I can receive recognition for it) I only do what I want to do and when I want to do it. I rarely think of others or their needs or what I can do to help. I surrender my selfishness.
- In my envy of others . . . Envy is sadness in response to another’s success. It is said that true love delights in another’s success. Sometimes it seems as if another person has everything (talent and treasure) while I have so little. I rarely applaud others for doing things well. I secretly find myself wishing for the attention that others receive and that I don’t get. I surrender my envy of others.
- Occasional Backstabbing. Backstabbing aka – calumny, reveals something about another person that is false and harmful to his or her reputation.
- Occasional Oscar Winning Performance as a Victim or Martyr.
My marriage . . . and the sense of security I get from it. Even though I’m in a dysfunctional relationship, it is the best relationship I’m in.
- I surrender my anorexia -- in all forms of manifestation
- I surrender my inability to be intimate, vulnerable, present and loved.
- My bottom lines … (private)
Pride and vanity.
- “It is said that pride is an excessive or inordinate esteem of oneself. It is inordinate because it is contrary to the truth. It is the will to be considered better than I really am. We express pride by taking personal credit for gifts or possessions actually received from God, by glorying in our achievements as if they were not primarily the result of God’s grace, or by minimizing our defects or claiming qualities we do not actually possess. . . I surrender my willfulness and my desire to play God.
- Pride differs from vanity. The proud person believes in his own excellence. The vain person ~ me ~ wants others to believe that I am excellent. Vanity, or vainglory, is an inordinate desire to show off one’s own excellence to others. It is also love of praise.” I surrender my vanity.
- My pride and my vanity are revealed in my need for
i. Money . .. (security); I think deep down inside I have a fear that my wife would leave me if I didn’t produce a good income. I surrender my need for money and security.
ii. Things . . . my home, my cars, my toys . . . they add to the successful image I try to portray.
iii. Job . . . I define myself by my job, my position, my title. It is important to me that my family sees me as successful after being defined as the family scapegoat.
iv. Physical Appearance . . . I live for others praise with respect to the way I look and the way I dress. In my youth, I loved it when women told me I was good looking. It was part of my acting out ritual. My acting out increased in direct proportion to my graying and not-so-attractive appearance. I surrender my physical appearance.
Things I’m willing to accept (my past): What is it that I cannot change and am I willing to accept this?
1. Who I am . . . That I have been fully responsible for my own thinking, emotions and actions in life. I cannot change the past. I accept and cannot change my feelings and actions of my past that got me here. I accept that I cannot change my past.
2. My addiction . . .
a. That I am a addict . . . that I medicate my fears and anxieties through my addiction..
b. That I am a problem drinker and can never again have alcohol. Alcohol was part of my acting out ritual in every pickup. It has taken years off my life.
c. My past acting out behaviors and the consequences of my actions.
d. That I’ve hurt a lot of people and that all I can do now is make amends, pray for them, and try to become a better person.
e. That I need to take medication every day.
3. My Mom & Dad . . . My parents did the best they could -- knowing what they did at the time. It wasn’t easy for them . . . they had a tough life.
4. My siblings . . .
a. I accept and cannot change that I have been scapegoated by my family as the problem child.
b. I accept and cannot change that a family member took advantage of me and really harmed me.
c. I accept my family for who they are and realize that they are most likely just as sick as me. We all grew up in the same environment. We all competed for the love and attention of my emotionally unavailable father and an overwhelmed mother.
5. My wife and family …
a. I cannot change and accept my wife as she is. I love her and I will support her regardless of what she does or doesn’t do in her own personal recovery.
b. Trust. I accept and cannot change that I violated her trust and that it will take years of effort and perseverance to restore her trust in me.
c. I cannot change and accept that my wife is the way she is as a mother. I must trust that she knows what she is doing. I must be willing to support her and demonstrate that support in front of the children.
d. I cannot change and accept that my son has an incurable disease.
6. My God . . .
a. I cannot change and accept that in my past I have been angry and resentful to God.
b. I cannot change and accept that in my past I have blamed God for the problems that I have encountered.
c. I cannot change and accept that in my past I abandoned God. I gave up on him.
d. I cannot change and accept that I in my past I had a false image of my God . . . that my sins were so egregious that he would not forgive me.
The spiritual principle of the 3rd Step is Faith.
St. Augustine said that: “Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”
Remember what I said when I started Step 3? I make a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God required not just a decision but also action. We have a saying in the room that faith without works is dead. We have to take action on this decision.
Faith is a noun.
Faith says "I know God, and I believe!"...
but faith is not trust...
Trust is a verb.
Trust is faith in action! It is the manifestation of our faith in our thoughts and actions. While faith says "He can...", trust says "He is... and I will think and act accordingly!"
It is far easier to have faith in God; there are unbelievers who have this. It is a lot harder to exercise trust in Him...
So now we have made a decision, we are trusting in God, and finally we must do God’s will.
So the 3d Step is simply: Decide – Trust – Do
I do God’s will.
It is really easy for me to identify God's will. I have an intuitive sense of what is good or right for me. God's will usually manifests itself as an opposing opinion to my own willful reasoning.
So what does doing God's will look like for me?
Sometimes this is nothing more than repeating and then honoring a slogan – Easy does it. One day at a time. Do the next right thing. Act as if. This to shall pass. I do whatever is before me and turn over the outcome to God.
Getting up in the morning and doing my prayer and meditation. It's honoring my boundaries and commitments. It's being accountable to my sponsor and group buddies each and every day. It's going to meetings and doing step work. It's connecting with others not just at meeting or on the phone -- but in my social life as well. It's taking my meds. It's honoring the tenets of my faith. It's staying fit and eating right. It's being a true partner to my wife and good father to my children. Most of all it's being rigorously honest with myself, my sponosor, my accountability partners and God.
So now I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand him. I have faith in God because I believe what I do not see. I exercise that faith by trusting that no matter what, God loves me and I’m going to be okay. I then take action and do whatever the next right thing is before me and let go of the outcome.
Thank you for letting me share my 3d Step.
3rd Step Prayer
God I offer myself to Thee, to build with me, and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better 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!