1. Read Step Three out of the basic text every day before writing.
2. Read Step Three out of “It Works, How and Why”.
3. Write down YOUR definition of each word in this step.
4. Look up each word individually in the dictionary and write down what you found (if any) to be the difference between YOUR definition and THE DICTIONARY’S definition.
5. Write about what each of the following phrases mean to you:
• We made…
• A decision…
• To turn our will…
• And our lives…
• Over to the care of God…
• As we understand him…
1. Write about how you understand God.
2. Write about an event that you thought about much longer than you needed to.
3. Write about an event that you left in Gods hands.
4. What is the principal of Step Three?
“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him”
Step Three is the central theme to all the steps. It is the point at which we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand God. It is an important cornerstone for building an effective and peaceful life. In Steps One and Two, we established the basics for turning our lives over to Gods care. The commitment in Step Three must be repeated more than once, as we are just beginning to turn things over to our Higher Power. Repeated working of the first three steps helps to build a solid foundation for working a total program.
Many of us come to this program with strong negative perceptions about the world in which we live. Those perceptions may be based on hurtful childhood experiences, misguided academic training, or simply the accumulated lessons of our lives. We may have perceived God to be unloving and judgmental. If we experienced violence as children, we may find it difficult to trust. Whatever the source, our recovery is hindered, if our beliefs make it hard to let go of fear, and surrender our lives to God. In Step Three, we decide to take a leap of faith, and put our lives in His hands.
Until now, our perceptions of reality have led us into many obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Admitting our responsibility for these behaviors is often too difficult. It implies that we “have not been good people”. Denial is our only recourse, and acts as a shield against facing ourselves as we really are. When denial is at work, it is like a shuttered window, closing out the sunlight. In Step Three, we begin to open the shutters, and allow our Higher Powers light to enter. It gives us a source of light in which we can examine our behavior, and understand reality.
Step Three is an affirmative step. It is time to make a decision. In the first two steps, we became aware of our condition, and accepted the idea of a Power greater than ourselves. Although we began to know, and trust, our Higher Power, we may find it difficult to surrender total control of our lives. However, if the alternative is to face the loss of people or things that are vital to our lives, such as family, job, health, or sanity, guidance might be easier to accept. Our lives may have many relationships that are being ruined by our behavior. Rather than being discouraged by these discoveries, we can use them to prompt our surrender to a power greater than ourselves.
As we begin to allow Gods will to act in our lives, our self-destructive tendencies become fewer, and much less distracting. Often, the confusion and grief we cause others and ourselves prevent us from successfully working and practicing the steps. Making the decision to begin this journey, is an act of great importance, and should not be made in a time of emotional upheaval. The key elements in Step Three are; making the decision with a clear and rational mind, being committed to that decision, and finally, trusting the outcome of our Higher Power.
As we surrender our lives, and stop carrying the burdens of our past, we will begin to feel better about ourselves. The more we learn to trust in our Higher Power, the more we will trust others and ourselves. Our decision to choose Gods way will restore us to the fullness of life. As we free ourselves from our self-will, we in turn free ourselves from much of our negative behaviors. We are able to deal more efficiently with the daily routine of our lives. Our impatience and irritability disappear, as we come to know our Higher Power’s love, and yearn to share it with others. Our lives include peace and serenity, and we become the persons we were meant to be.
In Step Three, we acknowledge our need for guidance, and make the decision to surrender our lives to Gods care. Our Higher Power becomes our new manager, and we accept life on Gods terms. We discover a way to live that is free from the emotional pollution of our past, allowing us to enjoy new, and wonderful, experiences. Step Three provides us with an opportunity to turn away from behavior that fosters addiction, discouragement, fear, and sickness.
Many of us begin the Step Three process by deciding to turn over only certain parts of our lives. We are willing to surrender the most difficult problems, when we see that they are making our lives unmanageable. We cling to other areas of our lives, because we think we can manage them, or because we think they are necessary for our survival. We eventually realize we can not barter with God. We must be prepared to surrender our entire will and every part of our lives, to his care if we want to recover. When we are truly able to accept this fact, our journey to wholeness will begin.
Step Three may make us feel like we are losing our identity. We may think we are going to lose everything. Not knowing what is going to happen is frightening. Most of us have tried desperately to control our environment. Many of these behavior traits were developed during childhood, and came about as a direct result of the circumstances in which we were raised. Deep within us, there may be a fearful childhood memory, and a trembling child anxious about someone’s anger, criticism, threats, or violence. As children, we tried to fix or take care of the people around us, so they would not abandon us with only broken promises, and shattered dreams.
The conditions in which we were raised often kept us from ever trusting God. Our prayers may have been unanswered, and we could not imagine how a loving God could be so cruel to us. Step Three is an opportunity to start over. As we work the steps, we will get in touch with childhood hurts. We will also begin to experience our Higher Powers healing love, and repair the damage that has been done. Then we can look forward to a return of childhood spontaneity, and a growing capacity to give, and receive, love and nurturing.
Learning to trust in a Higher Power, and accept support, will enhance the quality of our lives. We will no longer feel the need to carry our burdens by ourselves. Much of the pain of our past is a result of feeling totally alone. Our need to control people, and events, keeps us isolated. As we trust and surrender, we will begin to relate better with others. With Gods presence, our sense of self-esteem will improve, and we will begin to recognize that we are worthwhile human beings. Our capacity to receive, and to give, love will increase, and we will come to place great value on fellowship and sharing.
The Twelve-Steps is a spiritual program – a tool for healing. Step Three is an opportunity to let a Power greater than ourselves take charge of our lives. This liberates us from the pressure of feeling responsible for everything and everyone, or expecting someone else to take responsibility for us. As we surrender to our Higher Power, we develop a feeling of peace and serenity in our lives.
It is not important to understand how our Higher Power works in order to “let go”. We need only to believe in the process. If we have trouble working Step Three, it is probably because we are having difficulty with the “belief” aspect of Step Two. In this case we need to return to Step Two before going any further.
When we experience meaningful results in working Step Three a change comes over us. We are calmer, and feel that a weight has been lifted from our shoulders. It can happen suddenly or gradually, as we consciously accept the guidance resulting from our partnership with a Higher Power. If we experience a feeling of euphoria, it will not last forever. At times, we might revert to our old behavior patterns. At this point, we need only recognize this. There are no “Saints” in this program – we all have “slips”. However, as we work the steps daily, we become more willing and able to turn our lives over consistently.
There is a paradox in the way this program works. The less we try to manage our own lives, the more effective we become. When we give up managing our own lives, and trust in our Higher Power’s plan for us, we find we are calmer, and more accepting of things around us. Friends may compliment us on how well we are managing our own lives. As we stop trying to restrict ourselves to a rigid course of self-discipline, people may recognize how at ease we are in simply being ourselves.
Most of us start this journey in an effort to stop repeating painful cycles of ineffective behavior. We are usually in search of answers to complex questions of life. Some of us may have experimented with lifestyles and beliefs that appeared to have offered solutions. We may have been seeking a relationship with a Higher Power that transcended things of this world. This life-giving experience is offered through the Twelve Steps.
Review your responses to the questions in Step Three, and indicate ways in which you have:
Preparing for Fellowship
Turn it Over: This phrase of surrender is a key idea for Step Three. Imagine turning over your car keys to someone else. Think of turning over your job or a responsibility to a more capable person. People, who have been in the Program for any length of time, talk about turning over problems and daily troubles, to their Higher Power. For those of s who are working Step Three for the first time, we are Turning over our will and our lives to Gods care. Whatever imagery you choose, let the meaning always be the same: The surrender of your will and life. Turn it over, and give God control.
self-will: Self-will is the determination within us all, to control our own lives. Self-will, in itself, is not wrong; God has given us the power to choose. The problem with choice occurs when our will conflicts with God’s. Our choices have brought us pain, hardship, addictions, compulsions, obsessions, and self-defeating behaviors. Gods will for our lives brings us hope, healing, and peace. His plans are good. Our self-will is best exercised in choosing surrender to God.