Step Three: Made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to God.
My 12-step experience has been in overeaters anonymous (OA). But it was in an area beyond food where the depth of my third step came into sharper focus for me: personal finance.
I was on a walk one day and my thoughts were occupied by my car, which had been giving me trouble that same morning. The car is 10 years old and paid off. But having an old car to worry about was making a new car payment (and a warranty!) look not so bad. The problem was that a new car payment would be a terrible financial decision for my family.
I began to get anxious; I felt stuck! What if I break down on the way into work? What if the engine blows and I can’t afford to fix it? As Providence would have it, I was on Step Three, and so turning my life and my will over to God was also on my mind.
My anxiety yielded to prayer and I asked God what the answer was. It’s not typical, but in this instance the answer came immediately: “Trust me.”
It almost seems like a pat answer. In a way, I think that the whole 12-step process could be summed up by “trust God.” But Step Three is more like the narrow channel through which our recovery flows. It is the “turning point” wherein we do something mental—we make a decision. From this decision comes action, which is continuing to work the first, second and fourth steps (and more). Until we make a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to God, we must stop. Because the Twelve Steps all hinge on a “conscious contact with a higher power,” we must let Him in to move forward.
A specific addiction may bring us to that first OA, AA, or other 12-step meeting. But Step Three is not about just turning our eating or drinking problem over to God but our whole life, our entire will. This means that from that moment on, God has unfettered access to every part of our lives. This is necessary because our addiction had that same unfettered access before. It is time for a new way.
In my Step Three prayer of asking God to help me to do this step, He spoke to me about trust and He showed me areas of my life (finance, as well as food and many others) where that trust in Him was lacking. I determined that the next time my car starts to make a funny noise, the next time my day goes south and I want to reach for some indulgent treat to “take the edge off,” maybe I should give God some room to take care of me before I try to take care of myself. Step Three is an invitation to commend my worry to prayer and the outcome to God’s providence.
“We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: ‘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. May I do Thy will always!’ We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.”
“Alcoholics Anonymous,” Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition
Charlie lives in sunny Florida with his small (but growing!) family. He holds a B.A. in Religion and Apologetics and has a passion for writing about recovery and the Catholic Faith in his spare time. Charlie’s 12-step experience has been in overeaters anonymous, but he finds joy in “working the steps” in every aspect of his life and sharing those tools with others. You can also find him writing at tamingthewilds.com.