The 3rd Step? What an order! I can’t go through with it!

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

Step 3: The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Many of my fellow addicts and alcoholics come to the 3rd step and think there is something insurmountable about it. How can THEY, all-powerful as they are, turn their will and life over to a force greater than themselves? Surely, this could never happen! They are in complete control over every aspect of their daily lives!

3rd Step Requires A Decision

There is an old joke around the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous:

3 frogs are sitting on a log.

One of them decides to jump off.

How many frogs are left on the log?

Seems simple at first. There are TWO frogs on the log!
No, wait.. one only made a DECISION to jump but did not act upon it. Making a decision does not imply action. You’ve only considered the options, looked at the information available to you, and made up your mind.

Came To Believe

A Higher Power As I Understood Them

But wait, to… God? Hold on there! Oh crap, does this mean I am going to have to decide to go to church every Sunday morning? Am I going to have to start singing hymns and carrying a Bible around with me to pot luck dinners and prayer breakfasts?

Not even close.

I mean, if those things appeal to you, fine… but that is not what the 3rd step is all about!

Let’s think about the intent of the 3rd step. What is it that we — as alcoholics and addicts — are supposed to be gaining from this stop on our path to recovery?

Consider the “3rd Step Prayer”:

God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do 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.

First off, there is that pesky G-word again. For the moment, let’s just consider that to be a “force” (like in Star Wars, it is not a person or a thing, it just… is) that isn’t you. The prayer is just setting us up to ease our journey as we walk the path of steps.

Get Out of the Way

The 3rd step is simply asking you to get out of the way and let healing happen.

In the modern world, we are filled with messages to take control of our lives — and here is the Program asking us to let go. Can we do both?

Absolutely! Every day we do it countless times without thinking about it. We put our lives in the hands of powers beyond our control. If you have ever been on an airplane, you are in a pressurized tube hurling along 7 miles up in the hands of an unseen pilot, guided by air traffic controllers in a distant city. We never once consider that this is odd. It is just how we get from one place to another.

Plane Landing

You Don’t Have to Fly The Plane to Get to the Destination.

In short, we let go… and let the pilot take us where we need to be without having to worry about the ‘how’ to do it. You can reach your destination without having to fly the plane yourself.

This is the decision that we need to make in the 3rd step. Get out of the way and let someone else drive for a while. The 1st step brought us to the point where we know we need to make a journey. The 2nd step gave us an understanding that there is a pilot who knows the way. In the 3rd step, all we need to do is board the plane.

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