“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
When we’ve taken steps one and two we have learned and accepted that our lives are unmanageable with our without drugs and or alcohol, we are alcoholics and or addicts and a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
What if I told you that surrendering the manageability part, you’re quality of life would improve drastically? We can accomplish this by deciding to turn everything over to a Higher Power and allow that power to care for us, direct us, and handle situations that would typically baffle us. We can then stop draining ourselves, becoming restless, irritable and discontent trying to arrange life precisely the way we want it to be. We are under the impression we have control over people, places or things, but time and time again we are shown that we have zero power and when things do not go our way, we get restless, irritable and discontent and spend all of our energy trying to change God’s handiwork.
Recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual journey, and step three is when the doors of a new way of life are opened allowing us to feel that ease and comfort we’ve sought in a drink and drug and feel true serenity and contentment. The true meaning of step three is turning over your will and your life, getting out of your own way, and being restored to sanity. If we have to be restored to sanity, what does this mean? We are insane! (Ha!) It’s OK, we all are a little crazy. Taking an honest third step restores you to reality, honesty, love for yourself, for others, balance, and true inner peace.
In the third step, we are merely making a decision. You make decisions every day, right? It starts off just as simple as that – making a decision. However, the actual meaning and actions behind a third step are much deeper than just making a decision.
While working the third step, we begin to focus our attention on seeking knowledge of a Higher Power’s will for us. Deciding without taking any action is meaningless. Therefore, we believe making a decision is the first part of the third step. The next part of the third step, giving my will and my life over to God is where true serenity and freedom came from. I didn’t find true happiness and contentment until I fully understood and accepted what the third step meant. So, let’s break down the third step a little deeper with one of my real life experiences.
I was in treatment in New Hampshire, an intensive 12-step facility wherein one week they brought you through the first three steps. You opened the Doctor’s Opinion on Monday, and on Friday you were taking your third step. I thought at this point I had a great understanding of what I was turning over. I remember the pure excitement of taking this step, as I’ve heard before it’s a vital and essential step. The class got on their knee’s, and we read the third step prayer, and it lifted me on my feet. The action of taking the third step was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ll also never forget the first third-step “test” presented in my life where I failed utterly, and I was then shown what the true meaning on a third step was.
One day I was coming up with all of these grand plans and ideas of what my aftercare plan should be since clearly, I know best.. and let me tell you, it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to go. I wanted nothing more than to come home to Quincy where my Son, family, and friends were. My case manager said he thought Manchester NH is where I would be going. I started to become obsessed with the idea that I could control the situation. I grew restless, irritable and discontent. I began to lose focus on the primary goal, recovery, and all I could think about was my “great” plans and ideas. My case manager wasn’t giving me any information, I felt as if he was avoiding me (apparently he was just busy, but I’m incredibly selfish), and I couldn’t deal with it any longer. I hunted this poor man down in the hallway to tell him what I was doing after I left treatment.
He asked me if I took the third step, and of course, my answer was “obviously, I took it about a week ago and shouldn’t you know that you’re my case manager.” and he smiled and laughed. I was infuriated as at this time I thought I understood what the third step meant and that I mastered it.
The next question was the game changer for me. My case manager said “If you gave your will and your life over to your Higher Power, then why are you trying to control your aftercare? Why are you setting expectations on when I should see you, what others should do to cater to your needs, you’re still trying to arrange life to benefit you and you only.” and he was right. This man knew exactly what he was doing, and he did it in a way where I had two choices, accept it, or go on to the bitter ends trying to change it.
As soon as I accepted I had no control whatever over the situation the overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment came over me like a warm blanket. The obsession with my grand plans and ideas went out the window, and I was able to throw in the towel and say “Ok God, do with me as you wish.” At this point, I thought I was going to Manchester NH to sober living, and I finally accepted it. I was calling home to my family telling them I’d be living in Manchester and I was OK with it. That I’d be home on Gods time, something they have never heard before. They were amazed, and so was I. I was able to focus on my 4th step since my mind wasn’t overloaded with how I can control and manage life better and I was the happiest I’ve ever been there.
It turns out God was testing me and humbling me without my knowledge and the day I was supposed to leave for Manchester, My case manager pulled me aside and told me that I’m not going to Manchester, that the plan fell through and I was going to Quincy. He said my friend Chris was on his way to grab me and I’d be leaving soon. God and my case manager humbled me that day more than I can ever explain in words. The lessons they taught me are most instrumental to my recovery today. I surrendered, gave my will and life over entirely at that moment, accepted life on God’s terms, and my Higher Power knew this the entire time what was in store. My Higher power and case manager wanted to show me the true meaning of the third step and let me tell you, and they did a phenomenal job. The moral of the story? Let go of trying to control everyone and everything in life, turn your will and life over and trust God always.