Steps to serenity. Step 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 3 culminates a process begun In Step 1 and 2. In Step 1, we admitted our lives were out of control and that we were powerless to change things through our own power. In step 2, we renounced every old god we had been worshiping as powerless to save us and looked to a higher Power to restore us to wholeness. In Step 3, we recognize God as that higher Power and ask Him to assume control over and care of every aspect of our lives.
A common recovery phrase used in Twelve Step groups is “Turn it over.” For the recovering person, that means turning over to God’s care not only the major, conspicuous addictions like alcoholism and drug addiction or other addiction for that matter. It means turning every aspect of life, even the small frustrations involved in handling children or trying to make a faulty appliance work or dealing with congested freeway traffic. In the face of these irritations, the recovering person will say time and time again, “Turn it over; turn it over; turn it over.”
A step 3 recovery paradox is that codependent or addictive personalities are often quite willful and egocentric, and yet that egocentricity often camouflages a deep sense of insecurity. In A.A.’s oral tradition, an alcoholic or codependent is defined as being “an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” Step 3 invites us to get out of the center of our universe and hand that place back to God. As we move into any addiction or dependency, we tend to become more self-centered, self-absorbed and self-preoccupied in trying to address the pain driving the addiction. Paradoxically, this self-preoccupation only draws us more deeply into our addiction. We become more self-centered and self-preoccupation itself creates more pain, loneliness, and isolation. The addiction pulls us more deeply into its pain cycle. In order to surmount the pain cycle, ultimately we must step out of ourselves and look beyond ourselves.
Breaking out of this bondage of self does not mean we ignore or deny our needs. In fact, quite the reverse is true. If we can discover healthy, God-directed ways to meet our emotional and physical needs, then we become less needy, less selfish, less preoccupied individuals. This is another recovery paradox. Discovering what our needs are and asking to have those needs, and all of us have choices as to how those needs are to be met. Addictions, compulsions, and codependences are counterfeit means of trying to meet our most basic physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers. With God’s help we can find genuine ways of satisfying them.
We want to turn ourselves over to God, but how? How do we get out of the driver’s seat? The key is willingness. If we crack the door just a little bit, then God will direct us in the process. Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
A.A.’s Third Step Prayer is an excellent way to formalize our commitment to this new willingness:
“God, I offer myself to you. To build with me and to do with me as thou will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them my bear witness to those I would help of thy power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always! (Alcoholics Anonymous, p.63