Wrestling with Step 3

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
YogaAbba
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Wrestling with Step 3

Post by YogaAbba »

Hi,

I used to think I believed in God. And I lead an outwardly religious lifestyle. But I find myself really struggling with Step 3.

If it weren't for the gentle suggestion of the 12&12 book that willingness is a beginning to the 3rd step, I would conclude that, for me, the 12 steps are a hopeless cause. Like, I read about the 3rd step, and it's almost like I have a cognitive block to understanding it. Like, it just doesn't compute.

But I think I have some willingness.

This morning I have been thinking about the battle of will inside me. I have enough momentum with abstinence and enough fear of what would happen if I started drinking again that I've been able to avoid crossing the line. These are good things. But the cravings are so strong. And the truth is, I want to drink. I want the temporary release from the things that bother me. As long as the cravings are strong, and underlying it all I want to drink, the risk that I'll slip is high.

So, now I'm beginning to see how it would make sense to turn my _will_ over to God. In other words, my own will is profoundly ambivalent. Like, in this sense, I'm too sick to be entrusted with running entirely under my own will.

I do believe that God doesn't want me to drink. In the first place, my drinking would cause others to suffer. And that's unGodly. But I also believe that drinking would get in the way of knowing God -- of being what I think of as being _truly_ religious.

So if I hand my will over to God, maybe the ambivalence and confusion will clear up, and the obsession will go away?

So maybe this is that little opening of _willingness_ that might get me into this step.

I am working with a sponsor, by the way. But I don't know if he's the right sponsor for me.

In any case, I was hoping to hear others' thoughts, reflections, or comments on this.

Thanks.
--YA

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leejosepho
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by leejosepho »

YogaAbba wrote:I used to think I believed in God...

...willingness is a beginning to the 3rd step...and it's almost like I have a cognitive block to understanding it. Like, it just doesn't compute.
The first think to understand here is that Step Two is not a theological exercise. Instead, and quite simply:

"We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. 'Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?'" (page 47)

We are definitely talking about "God", but no particular conception or perception beyond the possible existence of "God" simply being "greater than myself" (more powerful than any human power) is required here. Then at that point, Step Three amounts to a decision to take the remaining Steps and ultimately discover "God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (page 84)

"That was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith which seemed difficult to believe." (page 47)

Study the above a bit and you may come to see the difference between Step Three and mere intellectual assent in a religious setting. A.A. never presents "believe in this" as a pathway like so many religions seem to do. Instead, we just suggest "Do this" -- "Here are the steps we took" -- and then let you decide what to believe or not after you have actually recovered "as the result of these Steps".
YogaAbba wrote:I'm beginning to see how it would make sense to turn my _will_ over to God...

So if I hand my will over to God, maybe the ambivalence and confusion will clear up, and the obsession will go away?
Only as we go far beyond mere mental assent and actually begin learning to live what God wills by doing things in the ways God wants them done...and that is what we can learn by actually following through on our Step-Three decision to take the remaining Steps.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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avaneesh912
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by avaneesh912 »

The way I tell people is, we decide to be of maximum use to fellow men, but with a corrupt mind, we can't be of use. So I suggest that they move forward with the inventory process and start cleaning up and the continue with restitution process. For people struggling with god concept, this works.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

Reborn
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by Reborn »

As Lee said above you have to remember what the 3rd step is actually saying...

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

It's just a decision my friend...try not to complicate it. As I went on with the rest of the 12 steps my Higher Power revealed himself to me in ways that are hard to explain. I'm a firm believer in just do the WORK and you will be contacted...that has been my experience. My conception of what God is has changed as I have moved forward in the program.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132

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Brock
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by Brock »

Step Three amounts to a decision to take the remaining Steps and ultimately discover "God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (page 84)
Nicely put, both avaneesh and Reborn also spoke about moving forward with step four. It is a bit confusing, so I ask new folks to concentrate on the first three words 'made a decision,' it doesn’t say we did it, we made a decision to do it. There are various ways of describing this, one I know is asking the question, if three frogs are sitting on a log and one decides to jump off, how many frogs are on the log ? Of course it is still three, but many will say two. Please go bravely on to 4 & 5, this is where many report the obsession being lifted, best of luck.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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whipping post
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by whipping post »

x3 on moving forward with your inventory. As others have said it is just a decision. I really tried to overcomplicate the first 3 steps and wasted a lot of time trying to figure out a precise concept of God and his will. I was just spinning my wheels. My sponsor got ahold of me and just marched me through it. I had to quit thinking so much and take action. Then it all started to come together.

Good on you for working the Steps. My obsession to drink went away after my fifth step.

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leejosepho
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by leejosepho »

Reborn wrote:...just do the WORK and you will be contacted...that has been my experience.
Exactly.
whipping post wrote:x3 on moving forward with your inventory. As others have said it is just a decision.
Yes, a decision to abandon our wills and our lives -- our attitudes and actions -- to the care and direction of our Maker by taking Steps Four through Nine where we discover the following no later than at Step Ten (a continuation of Four through Nine on a moment-by-moment basis as we go through the day):

"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition." (pages 84-85, emphasis added)

Take note: "Don't drink" is never mentioned anywhere at all in any of the A.A. recovery program. Rather, we had simply prayed this at Step Three:

"Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power (to deliver), Thy Love (in provision), and Thy Way of life (in right fellowship with others who are also living under your direction)."

Then at some point this typically applies:

"Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the 'educational variety' because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline [such as one-day-at-a-time abstinence]. With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource (a basic fundamental idea of 'God' as mentioned in Chapter Four) which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves." (Appendix II)
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Spirit Flower
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by Spirit Flower »

Take note: "Don't drink" is never mentioned anywhere at all in any of the A.A. recovery program. Rather, we had simply prayed this at Step Three:

"Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power (to deliver), Thy Love (in provision), and Thy Way of life (in right fellowship with others who are also living under your direction)."
Interesting point Lee. Now that you mention it, we don't ever pray for the desire to drink to leave, or to not take a drink. Ha! I never thought about that before.
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avaneesh912
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by avaneesh912 »

Yes. But how many times you hear:

"As long as I don't pick up, I stand a fat chance".
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by Jaywalker Steve »

YogaAbba wrote:So if I hand my will over to God, maybe the ambivalence and confusion will clear up, and the obsession will go away?
I too struggled mightily with the mental obsession. All I could think about was the very thing that would kill me. I can say that it has since been removed along with the 'ambivalence and confusion' that came with trying to deal with right here, right now without alcohol.

My sponsor presented Step 3 this way. If three frogs were sitting on a log and one decided to jump, how many were left? I answered 2, but the answer is 3 because only the decision to jump was made and no action taken. He went on to explain that we only make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. The action backing up the decision is following through with Steps 4-12 as fearlessly and thoroughly as possible. Willingness, as you so perfectly expressed, is the key. Understanding comes in time with the follow through.
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH

YogaAbba
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by YogaAbba »

Thank you all for your answers. I feel a bit relieved.
I also think I may need to find a different sponsor: he didn't quite explain this to me this way.
--YA

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PaigeB
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by PaigeB »

You don't necessarily need a new sponsor... this is just like going to a meeting and learning something that gets you to an understanding.

For instance, I tend to say the 3rd Step Prayer a few times a day these days, and I am an avowed atheist! :lol:

My sponsor never pushed a god on me just told me to find one that is able to grow as I grow. Now 6 years later, I talk about "god" all the time, though you may never know what picture is in another person's head. If you have found a way to willingly turn your "thoughts and actions" of to YOUR Higher Power, than good for you!

Be willing to be willing. That's how I got started.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by Duke »

My sponsor reminded me quite often, that when I, or anyone else, says they have a problem with the God part, all they're really saying is they've envisioned a power they can't understand. Find one you can understand. That's all the program suggests.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa

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avaneesh912
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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by avaneesh912 »

Finding GOD in the early part of recovery is for most highly impossible. We just conclude that some power exist out there that could restore us to sanity. Thats exactly what Bill did looking at Eddy.

Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at that minute; and this was none at all.

We start experiencing this power as we drop the resentments, fear and later on start fixing the relationship using the disciplines of 10 and 11.


We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit.

For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: Wrestling with Step 3

Post by D'oh »

I found that there was a God that I could have total faith in when I wasn't looking for him. I used the Group as my Higher Power, because well They could stay sober and I couldn't and they were showing me how to.

But as for a God, I needed to see Lighting Bolts or Parting Waters for proof and to allow me to put 100% of my faith on Him. A wiining Lotto Ticket might have done it also, but I doubt it.

Then after a couple of months being sober, some life turmoil at the time, the Group kept me sober thru. But at the same time allowed me to Open my Mind. 3 days later at a strange to me meeting, Joe made a very short statement. Joe said "Everyone's happy content faces in these meetings, it's not them, it is God working through them. They are all just messed up Alcoholics."

Right then I believed that it was God's work, and he could work for me also. If I believe. And I did believe because the "Proof" of god had been around me all along. I just didn't know what to look for.

Step 3 has always been a bit of a struggle in my sobriety, but usually when I put My Will before His Will.

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