What does step 3 mean to you?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
RustyS
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 78
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:58 am

What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by RustyS »

Hi, my name is Rusty and I'm an alcoholic.

As most of you who read this board know, I'm a newcomer. I have 7 days sobriety. I'm currently praying to find the right sponsor. I'm luck that I live in a large city and I have a large AA group I meet with so there is no lack. I just have to find the right one.

Anyway, I have been meditating on the first 3 steps. I feel like I've really taken the first 2 to heart. And, if I may be so bold, I feel like I've had a spiritual awakening. I've been praying more in the past few days than I have in the past 10 years or longer, which was not at all.

I've read the BB through chapter 5. I re-read the part in chapter 5 on the 3rd step twice and I'm sure I'm going to re-read it a few more times. I'm trying to wrap my mind around what it means to "Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."?

What does that mean in a practical sense?

As far as I've gotten is that I would do everything, and base every decision on what I believe is my Higher Power's will.

I am willing to do that because, I know I need my Higher Power to keep me from taking that first drink. I got that loud and clear. I can't do it on my own. *But* I'm not quite sure how to live step 3 in a practical sense. Know what I mean? Please help.

Thanks,
Rusty

User avatar
Tosh
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3743
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 10:43 am

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Tosh »

Step 3 meant I'm just about to start Step 4. Serious. My sponsor and I said the Step 3 prayer, I got up and said I was going to go for a smoke, and my sponsor asked me to delay it, because he wanted to show me how to do a Step 4, and start me off on mine. Once I'd started my Step 4 inventory's, my Step 3 was nearly done.

But really, how do you turn your will and your life over to God? You can't, not really, as in you can't become a 'robot' being controlled by God. So how you turn your will and your life over to the care of God is by doing Steps 4 to 9, and living under the guidance of 10, 11, and 12. I don't know any other way to do it.

I still occasionally hear people saying at meetings that 'they're working on Step 3', but that probably means they're procrastinating about doing Step 4.

Hope that helped.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock
Contact:

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by leejosepho »

RustyS wrote:... I'm trying to wrap my mind around what it means to "Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."?

What does that mean in a practical sense?
A decision to take Steps Four through Nine to "taste and see" the result for yourself.
RustyS wrote:As far as I've gotten is that I would do everything, and base every decision on what I believe is my Higher Power's will.
Sure, and the remainder of the Steps show us how to actually do that.
RustyS wrote:I am willing to do that because, I know I need my Higher Power to keep me from taking that first drink. I got that loud and clear. I can't do it on my own.
Yes, that is our alcoholic "deal", so to speak: If we keep doing things in our own ways, we are dead.
RustyS wrote:*But* I'm not quite sure how to live step 3 in a practical sense. Know what I mean? Please help.
Begin making a list of the names of the people you feel have done harm to you or have treated you wrongly in the past ...

"Resentment is the 'number one' offender [of an alcoholic's sanity concerning the first drink]. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically. In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry ..." (page 64)

... just a list of names for now, and then begin praying for those people to be blessed with all the good things we also want for ourselves. Pray for their health, their prosperity and happiness ...

"... the key to the future. We were prepared to look at [our list of names] from an entirely different angle. We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us. In that state, the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill. How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.
"This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.'
"We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn't treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one." (pages 66-67)

... and then as we continue on in Step Four and the remainder of the Steps, we begin to learn how to actually fulfill this:

"Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." (page 77)

Keep up the good work, Rusty, and you just might end up being a sponsor even before you find one! :wink:
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock
Contact:

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by leejosepho »

Tosh wrote:But really, how do you turn your will and your life over to God? You can't, not really, as in you can't become a 'robot' being controlled by God.
Correct, and so, the Steps are where we can learn to do that of our own free will.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

User avatar
Tosh
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3743
Joined: Fri May 13, 2011 10:43 am

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Tosh »

leejosepho wrote:
Tosh wrote:But really, how do you turn your will and your life over to God? You can't, not really, as in you can't become a 'robot' being controlled by God.
Correct, and so, the Steps are where we can learn to do that of our own free will.
Someone here (Blue Moon I think it was) wrote something along the lines that we were given our free will by God, so you can't give it back, He doesn't want it.

I liked that.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock
Contact:

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by leejosepho »

Tosh wrote:
leejosepho wrote:
Tosh wrote:But really, how do you turn your will and your life over to God? You can't, not really, as in you can't become a 'robot' being controlled by God.
Correct, and so, the Steps are where we can learn to do that of our own free will.
Someone here (Blue Moon I think it was) wrote something along the lines that we were given our free will by God, so you can't give it back, He doesn't want it.

I liked that.
He doesn't ever want it taken away from us, given to anyone else or refused (like in your reference to something Blue Moon might have said), but that is not what is being suggested here. Rather ...

"Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. 'How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done.' These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." (page 85)

So then, the only thing being abandoned here is the old idea (page 58) that it might be a good idea to use my own will as my own manner of thinking might suggest -- self will run riot -- in opposition to God's manner of thinking ... or something like that.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

RustyS
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 78
Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:58 am

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by RustyS »

Thanks guys. Both good answers. I will take them to heart.
leejosepho wrote:Keep up the good work, Rusty, and you just might end up being a sponsor even before you find one! :wink:
Haha, yeah, if I wait too long I suppose :lol: !

My group has a Sunday morning meeting. The guy that asked me if I've thought about getting a sponsor and told me to pray about it invited me to the Sunday morning meeting. I'm thinking about just making the plunge and asking him if he has time to sponsor me. He's really down to earth and friendly. I'm ready to get working on these steps :D !

--Rusty

User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock
Contact:

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by leejosepho »

RustyS wrote:My group has a Sunday morning meeting. The guy that asked me if I've thought about getting a sponsor and told me to pray about it invited me to the Sunday morning meeting. I'm thinking about just making the plunge and asking him if he has time to sponsor me. He's really down to earth and friendly. I'm ready to get working on these steps :D !
For a variety of reasons either good or bad, some sponsors want "control" over the work we do in taking the Steps ... but then the best ones just answer questions while sharing some of their own experience to help make sure we really do know/learn how to actually take them. You might consider sharing with him the work you have already done and then asking him to simply help you continue on ... and I cannot imagine a decent sponsor ever balking at that after making a review of what we here already know you actually *have* done.
Last edited by leejosepho on Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

User avatar
Todd M
Trusted Servant
Posts: 838
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:35 pm
Location: The Pacific NW, the Evergreen State of WA

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Todd M »

Step-3 to me means

There is a God, and I'm not it

may Gods will be Done, not mine, as i go, through each day
There is Hope, Todd M
Keep it Simple

The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link:
http://www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php

Sally
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 132
Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:58 am
Location: southeastern wisconsin

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Sally »

good answer!! that is what i was told as well- i am not God- plain and simple-
i was taught Step 3 is an ongoing exercise in my level of acceptance of my
own powerlessness-
i felt it very strongly with my kids- they were very young when i began recovery
and i wanted to make sure they didn't follow in my footsteps-- i waffled on the genetics of addiction-
i would not accept that i was powerless- i felt if they *knew* enough
it would protect them- i had no concept of the idea of leaving them in Gods
hands-( or any HP for that matter.)

Step 3 has never been a quick- ok that's done- for me at all.
i am on round #2 of parenting- 5 grandkids now and 2 live with us-
talk about a do-over!! this is a real gift - but also it's the same
control issues i had with our kids- i want to educate and protect them
for all the evils of the world- i need to constantly remind myself that
my HP is alive and well and doing a very good job.
Sally

User avatar
PaigeB
Trusted Servant
Posts: 8821
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by PaigeB »

Step 3 is a simple, but constant step. Turning my will & my life over means not trying to control everything all the time. A daily study in willingness and acceptance.

My brother (also in the program) has been known to ask this riddle:

2 birds are sitting on the fence. One decides to fly to Florida. How many birds are sitting on the fence?
_________________________________________

Still two. One only made a decision.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

Lali
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 4296
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:13 am

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Lali »

Lee, I thought I understood Step 3 completely until I read these two sentences you posted. Now, I'm confused:

We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." (page 85)

It seems to contradict everything else that has been posted in this thread and everything I have understood from my step work. Maybe I"m interpreting it incorrectly? Can you enlighten me here please sir?

On another note, whenever I switched sponsors, if I told them I had already worked 1 through 3, for instance, they would want me to start over anyway without even asking me what I had learned. And I don't necessarily think that speaks badly for the sponsor, I think they just feel responsible for what you are learning and want to be sure that you understand those steps thouroughly before moving on. And the only reason I am saying this is because I wouldn't necessarily say that is a bad sponsor and I wouldn't want someone to misss out on a good sponsor for that one reason.

And lastly, I want to mention to Rusty that he could have an online sponsor if he wishes. Normally, I recommend a face to face sponsor but sometimes the online thing works out really well for some people.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock
Contact:

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by leejosepho »

Lali wrote:Lee, I thought I understood Step 3 completely until I read these two sentences you posted. Now, I'm confused:

We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." (page 85)

It seems to contradict everything else that has been posted in this thread and everything I have understood from my step work. Maybe I"m interpreting it incorrectly?
You might have to help me be sure of what part might seem confusing, but maybe this will help:

We real alcoholics seem to not have enough power -- we are/were "powerless" (Step One) -- to carry out our own will when it comes to the matter of not drinking ("the needed power [to overcome alcoholism] wasn't there" (page 45)) ...

... but then we find we no longer become "restless, irritable and discontented" (as in the past) and then go looking for the effect of alcohol as long as we are now using what "power" (willingness) we actually *do* have "to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." Or to try to say that in another way:

We *do* have the free will and "power" (ability) to do *something*, but there is just no amount of human power (wisdom, ability, etc.) that can do for us what "maximum service to God and the people about us" can do. So then, we now need to re-direct our energies toward God's will rather than our own will -- toward other-centeredness in place of self-centeredness -- in order to remain abstinent from alcohol.

Philosophers like to debate that, of course, and I am not meaning to speak of anyone here when I say that. Many people, actually Humanists, like to believe we already have everything we need inside us ...

... but our experience as alcoholics seems to indicate something else ...

"If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted [by so-called 'self-help' models, books, treatments, etc.], in fact, we could [try to] will these things [by doing things like clicking our heels together] with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there [in human efforts]. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.
"Lack of power [even in the presence of great desire and/or will], that was our dilemma. We had to find a [sufficient] power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable [us] to find a Power greater than [ourselves] which will solve [our] problem [of not being able to will good things for ourselves or even others and then make them actually happen]." (pages 44-45)

And within all of that, it is important to note what is *not* said in the above:

We are *not* told we will be shown how to solve our problem ourselves (like Humanists typically seem to believe we can);
We are *not* told God or anyone else will *help* us solve our problem.

Rather, we are told our problem will be solved *for* us, and that God will be the One doing the solving as long as we freely and willingly exercise our will as *He* would have us rather than as in our own (and actually human-natural) selfish and self-centered, self-reliant ways.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

Lali
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 4296
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:13 am

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Lali »

Okay, now that makes sense to me. Thanks
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

Mike O
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3253
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:55 am
Location: UK

Re: What does step 3 mean to you?

Post by Mike O »

leejosepho wrote:
... we freely and willingly exercise our will as *He* would have us rather than as in our own (and actually human-natural) selfish and self-centered, self-reliant ways.
This sums up Step 3 for me, and I try to understand God's will for me through prayer and meditation.

Post Reply