Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
At first glance, this step may seem impossible for a nonbeliever. God and the capital “H” in “Him”, make it pretty clear that we will be dealing with the supernatural here. The problem of course, is that we are leaving out the most important part — we made a decision. We are making a decision in this step, a decision to change by committing to the remaining steps in AA’s program of recovery.
Everyone who works the steps must interpret them in some way, and there is no AA law that states the steps must be taken exactly as written. We have the freedom to write these steps out in our own language if we so choose, and I would encourage anyone to do that. I did, as have other people at my home group, and we’ve found it to be an effective way to work the steps.
Here’s my version of Step Three:
Made a decision to change our lives by committing to this simple program of recovery.
When Benn and I were discussing steps one and two, we agreed that for both of us, those steps were more experiences than steps we actually took. In step one, we admitted we were alcoholics and in step two, we came to believe that we could be helped in AA. The real work, if there was any, was simply to accept this. We needed to place our faith, if you will, in something outside ourselves, and for many of us, that was Alcoholics Anonymous, but it was also mental health professionals and other outside resources that we needed for our overall well being.
The steps gently and logically flow from one to the next, and step three is a natural progression from the first two steps. After all, what good does it to do to admit that you have a problem and to believe you can be helped, if you don’t make a decision to actually do something? In step three, we make a decision to do something. It’s as simple as that, we made a decision to change. But,what do we need to change? An answer to that question can be found in Chapter Five of the Big Book, where we learn that self-centeredness is the root of our problem.
That’s a strong statement and may seem a bit harsh, but when we look back at our drinking, we can see that certainly we were selfish — that seems to be the nature of all addictions. When we started drinking, our need for another drink took precedence over everything else, and this concentration on self seemed to spill over into other areas of our lives. Our drinking and our behavior hurt the people around us, but we just couldn’t see it. After we stop drinking and remain abstinent, it can be difficult to recognize this behavior, let alone change it. That at least was my experience, and though I was certainly ready to make a decision to do something about my drinking, I didn’t fully comprehend that drinking was indeed only a symptom of my problem.
I needed to feel deep down in my bones that I have to change my behavior — I needed to find a new way to live. If I were to remain sober, live a happy life and enjoy healthy relationships with other people, then I needed to change. Once I realized that a self-centered life wasn’t working and could ultimately destroy me — I was then ready to make a decision to move on to the next step.
I hope you enjoy this conversation. Benn and I will continue our way through the steps with our next discussion about steps four and five to take place later this month.