Step Three

Made a decision to (take Steps Four through Nine in order to) turn
our wills and our lives over to the care
(and direction) of God.”
(“Alcoholics Anonymous”, page 59)


At Steps One and Two, we accumulated some crucial factors leading to Step Three:

We had lost all control over alcohol while drinking;
We were equally powerless to leave alcohol alone;
No human power could have kept us from drinking;
We have heard evidence of that problem being removed.

In place of “a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove…”

“…my friend…(declared) God had done for him what he could not do for himself.”
“…the miraculous, the humanly impossible…”
“Save for a few brief moments of temptation the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him.  Seemingly he could not drink even if he would.  God had restored his sanity.”
God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves
“…we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol.  For by this time (Step Ten) sanity will have returned.  We will seldom be interested in liquor.  If tempted, we (now) recoil from it as from a hot flame.  We react sanely and normally, and we will find 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 neutralitysafe 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 24, 11, 50, 57, 84-85)

Here are just the highlighted parts from the above:

“God had done for him what he could not do for himself…the miraculous, the humanly impossible…could not drink even if he would…God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves…we recoil from (alcohol) as from a hot flame…automatically…without any thought or effort on our part…the miracle of it…a position of neutrality – safe and protected…the problem has been removed…so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.”

With “Don’t drink” never mentioned anywhere within our A.A. “experience, strength and hope”, Step Three is next:  The turning point in our lives — our proverbial “fork in the road”…

“…no middle-of-the-road solution…(only) two alternatives:  One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help.  This we did — we accepted spiritual help — because we honestly wanted to (in order to permanently recover from chronic alcoholism) and we were willing to make the effort (required for taking the Twelve Steps).”  (pages 25-26)

Looking even more closely:

“Either God is everything or else He is nothing.
God either is, or He isn’t.  What was our choice to be?”
«– on to the bitter end «–We stood at the turning point.” –» accept spiritual help –»
(pages 53, 59)

A.A. had not put us in the position of having to make this decision, and neither are we trying to put you there.  Here is simply where we had found ourselves and where you might be at this moment.  We had lost all control over our drinking while drinking and nothing could be done about that, then we had also discovered we could neither leave alcohol alone altogether.  Others like ourselves next helped us to see and to understand ourselves as alcoholics, then those same people had shown us how they had recovered.  All of that is summarized here in our book:

“Our description of the alcoholic (chapters two and three in our book), the chapter to the agnostic (chapter four), and our personal adventures before and after (chapter one and the remainder of the stories in our book) make clear three pertinent ideas:
“(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
“(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
“(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
“Being convinced, we were at Step Three…”  (page 60)

Are you at Step Three?  Are you convinced you are alcoholic and cannot manage your own life into freedom from alcohol?  Are you at least willing to believe at least we believe “God as you understand God” (page 164) both can and will “solve your problem” (page 45) for you?  If not, please consider this interesting line from the original manuscript for our book:

“If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to
re-read the book to this point (on what is now page 60) or else throw it away!

Q: Do I really have to swallow all of this all at once?
A: No, you surely do not.  In fact, you can, if you wish, just make a decision to take Steps Four through Nine.  After that, Step Ten will keep things cleaned up — no new past to again have to clean up later — as you come along through each day, then Step Eleven makes even that less necessary as we all continue to grow together.  But for now, you face nothing more, less or other than a simple decision to begin a specific course of action — yes or no — so we can get on with the matter of your permanent recovery.

Q: How did all of this stuff about “God” get into A.A.?
A: Prior to A.A. ever getting started anywhere, Rowland H. had gone to see Dr. Carl Jung, a world-renowned psychiatrist of that era, and Dr. Jung had essentially suggested Rowland should “Go see God” about the chronic part of his alcoholism since he (Dr. Jung) could do nothing for him.  If you wish, you can read about Rowland’s visit with Dr. Jung on pages 26-28 in our A.A. “Big Book“.  Then after Dr. Jung had told Rowland he had heard alcoholics could recover through spiritual means and Rowland had done so, he (Rowland) next offered that new-found “experience and knowledge” (page 19) to the rest of us as the second piece in our overall “recovery puzzle“, as such.

The actual wording at Step Three is quite optional “so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation” (page 63)…

“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 (to deliver), Thy Love (in provision), and Thy Way of life (in right fellowship and worship).  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.”  (page 63)

Q: We are talking about a god of my own understanding, right?
A: No, we are talking about “God as you understand God” (page 164).  But of course…

“If he thinks he can do the job in some other way (such as through reliance upon a chair, tree, doorknob, ash tray or light bulb rather than upon God)…encourage him to follow his own conscience…be friendly.  Let it go at that.”  (page 95)

Q: Where did you get those “right fellowship and worship” ideas?
A: By taking the Twelve Steps and learning still more about living as our Father in the Heavens would have us…

“God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.”  (page 164)

If you do not already know the story of the Hebrew exodus from bondage, maybe check it out sometime.  As new-to-us and as impressive as our modern-day A.A. experience might be, there is really nothing new about any of this:

“This is the how and why of it.  First of all, we had to quit playing God (and no longer trying to manage our own lives).  It didn’t work.  Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director.  He is the Principal; we are His agents.  He is the Father, and we are His children.  Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
“When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed.  We had a new Employer.  Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.  Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.  As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter.  We were reborn.”  (pages 62-63)


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