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  • The Twelve Steps – Step III

    by Pat P.

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

    Taking Step Three

    Now I have owned my situation in Step One, thought about a solution to my problem in Step Two, and now it’s time for me to take action, which is the purpose of Step Three. I must first begin to look at the obstacles I’ve had in the past when I attempted to do something different.

    That leads me to the question of do I have any fears about doing the step? What problems will I have with turning my will and my life over to something or someone else? Do I have a history of trusting people as relating to doing what they ask of me? What does surrender mean to me? What feelings do I have attached to the word surrender? What does it feel like when I do something someone else asks me to do without it making sense? Do I have a history of doing what others want? What problems do I think I’ll experience when I start doing someone else’s will?

    I must ask myself what behaviours I’ve changed recently and what it felt like going through the process. I must ask myself what I’ll lose when I turn my will over to someone else. What are the rewards and benefits? What parts of my life am I willing to turn over? When was the last time I took someone else’s suggestion, trusting it was going to turn out in my best interest? That’s faith.

    How will I even know when I’ve turned over my will? What do I expect to happen as a result of taking this step? Do I have a history of even knowing when I’m receiving guidance and, if so, have I been able to follow the advice? What’s my experience with prayer and what does it mean to me? Why and when have I used it?

    I must look at all these questions if I hope to be able to internalize this step.

    Listening to Step Three

    Listening to Step Three has always been a rewarding experience for me because in answering these questions, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of my Higher Power.

    My main problem is that I think I have a handle on this Higher Power thing. In fact I don’t, and I’m actually retaking this step every time I listen to one. I can tell I don’t by the way I react to it. I must remember I’m only reflecting my take on the step and the other person is sharing their take on the step. Maybe between the two of us we can get a better understanding of what’s really going on here.

    After many years of sobriety, I’m still as confused and overwhelmed as I was when I first got here, only now I can better define my confusion and understanding through experience and faith. This Higher Power thing can become overwhelming. It’s so abstract. Understanding this is the foundation for listening to this step.

    I have to leave my ego at the door when I’m listening to this step. If I don’t, I’ll find myself putting my will on a poor soul that’s doing all they can just to survive. They sure don’t need a beating from me. This has been one of the hardest things for me when I’m listening to this step. Not to put my understanding into his understanding. My job is not to sell him my Higher Power but to ask him questions to help him find his own personal Higher Power.

    This is probably one of the hardest steps for me to listen to because of my personal attachment to my Higher Power unconsciously wanting to influence others with my belief system. It’s really a great time for me to practice my faith that the person is being cared for by his/her Higher Power.

    To me Step Three has to be experienced through the act of following directions. I have to master faith. I tell people that a diet doesn’t begin until we get hungry and so faith isn’t experienced until we are doing what someone else is suggesting – convinced that it’s the craziest thing we’ve ever been told.

    The more I follow, the easier it gets. Relapse begins when I stop following. Also, in order for the third step to work I must be practicing my first step, being in a state of powerlessness.

    Reprinted by kind permission of Recovery Today. About the Author: Pat Peteson has been in recovery for over twenty-five years and a substance abuse counselor for over twenty years. He presently works with X-Gang members in the Department of Criminal Justice. He also has published a Twelve Step Workbook covering many addictions.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    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.