When you were in the midst of your addiction (whatever it was), did you make decisions or did your life just happen? Did you go through good decision-making processes or even slightly weigh the pros and cons? Or, were your decisions primarily made by non-decision (i.e. life just happening)? Personally, show me a person in the throes of an addiction and I’ll show you someone who has absolutely no ability to make a decent decision.
Now we are in 12 Step Recovery programs and are beginning to understand our disease. Most of us have admitted to the disease as well as admitting we were powerless over it. Most of us are beginning to believe there is a Higher Power ready to help us since we have found that no one else can. We now come to a very crucial decision in our sobriety and that is the Third Step: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood Him.” This decision will have a powerful impact on our sobriety as well as the level of peace and serenity we find every day for the rest of our lives.
This appeared to be such a simple step and my first reaction was, “Okay, I’ll make the decision to turn everything over to God. I’m not sure how but I’ll figure it out.” I was feeling bad for the folks who still didn’t have a Higher Power and were trying to find the God of their own understanding. I thought I had a real head start on this one because, after all, I had always believed in God. Oh yeah! I really had a handle on this one!
Step Three, my recovering friends, was the most difficult then and remains the most difficult for me every single day. All of my life I had found something to worry about (worry is the absence of faith), had tried to control people and situations to fit my own agenda, and when things didn’t work out the way I had planned it was someone else’s fault. I was an excellent “fixer”, which I now realize made me a poster child for codependency. So if I took Step Three and turned my will AND my life over to God, I wouldn’t worry, control or fix? I’d be free? The answer is yes if I have faith and trust.
Faith is the principle of Step Three but I have to include trust as equally important. Faith was not much of a problem to me. I had faith that God was all things, could do anything, and so on but I didn’t know how the trust factored in. I also wasn’t convinced that even though I had faith, it would do much for me. Here is the way someone explained faith and trust to me and I never forgot it. She asked, “If we put a thin wire over the Grand Canyon and gave your Higher Power a wheelbarrow, do you have faith that your Higher Power could safely walk that line?” “Yes”, I said, “because I have faith in my Higher Power.” “Okay,” she said, “sounds like you have faith. Now here is the trust. Would you get into the wheelbarrow?”
To be honest, I had to seriously think about this. My answer was “maybe” (not the right answer.) “Maybe” is one of those non-decisions I wrote about in the very beginning. “Maybe” means I still want control and consider myself on equal ground with my Higher Power. There is fear in letting go! Fear, as I found out in Step Four, had dominated my life as far back as I could remember. So if we turn our will and our lives over, we might not get what we want, we may lose what we have, or we may look bad; and that is the definition of fear.
No one can wave a magic wand over any one of us and sprinkle us with faith and trust. To gain the kind of faith and trust in a Higher Power that is necessary for serenity is a difficult task. It doesn’t just appear one day. It is a lifelong process. Step Three requires prayer even if that prayer is nothing more than “Thy will not mine be done”. I think it is important to note that this Step does not mean we sit back and just let our Higher Power do His/Her thing. This is not a step of inaction. The Serenity Prayer reminds us to “change the things I can”.
How do I know when I am not practicing my decision in Step Three? I obsess. The problem, issue, person, whatever will just roll around and around in my head until it becomes an obsession. I may have already done everything I can do, accepted the fact that it is not in my hands but it still remains an obsession. Step Three tells me that if I turn it over to my Higher Power, I will be at peace and the hamster wheel in my head will stop turning. If I want peace, this is what I do: pray The Serenity Prayer as many times as necessary as well as any other prayers that might be important to me. Then I use my God Box. I write down whatever I am obsessing about or requesting and as I fold the paper up and put it in the box, I say, “God, I am now turning this over to You. It is now Yours!” It works and works for me so well that I constantly encourage others to take advantage of this incredible tool.
The reason the God Box works so well for me and for others is that it is a tangible thing. The physical act of writing on paper and placing it in a box gives us the sense that we are truly doing something and it is not merely a thought. The beauty of the God Box is that any time you decide to check out what is in there, you will see how your prayer or request had in some way been answered and you will wonder why you thought it such a big deal at the time. I practice Step Three exactly as I handle my sobriety and that is one day at a time.
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.