Michael’s Perspective: Step 3

By Michael G, Renascent Alumni

Step 3 of the 12-step recovery program asks us to ‘…turn our will and our lives over to the care of God/our Higher Power, as we understood him/them’.

When I initially read through the 12 Steps, I immediately made a mental note that Step 3 was a no-go for me. I am not a religious person. I grew up in a Catholic school system where the concept of God felt forced on me, so I rebelled by attempting to disprove their existence any chance I got. How was I going to now turn my will and my life over to them?

I was willing to accept that I was not able to control my life anymore and that there needed to be something or someone that could help me – just not God. I remember speaking with the counsellors at Renascent, and eventually my sponsor about this Step. My struggle was literally the word ‘God’. I was blinded by that word and had to be shown those four critical words that end Step 3 – as we understood him.

Learning that I did not have to adhere to someone else’s version of God – especially not the religious one – changed my perspective on Step 3 and helped catapult me into a program of recovery I never thought imaginable. I engaged with my family’s Indigenous past and began to pray and turn my will and life over to the Great Spirit.

This was not without struggle in the beginning. Despite now having connected with the Great Spirit, it was still not easy to turn everything over after years of trying to direct my own life. How could the Great Spirit know more about how to live my life than me? My sponsor helped me to embrace the process and truly learn the value of turning my will and life over to the care of my Great Spirit.

Step 3 can be daunting to those who do not believe in God. It can scare people into believing that the 12-Step program is based upon your belief in God, or at least a God. What started as a no-go point for me, has now turned into one of the critical foundational points of my 12-Step program and my life in recovery.

People will tell you that your Higher Power can be whatever you need it to be at that time of your recovery, but I knew that I needed to have a firm belief and trust in someone or something that would help keep me living sober. I took my time with this Step – my sponsor had me write my own prayer to connect with my Great Spirit. It is vital that those who are skeptical of Step 3 enter with an open mind. You may not believe right away, but you cannot skip over this step. Take the time, work the program, read the literature and most importantly for me – pray. It is only through constant contact with my Great Spirit and allowing them to guide me through my life today that I remain sober.

About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.