I thought I was done with this step. I really did. When I talked with my sponsor about this step back in the winter, he suggested that I say the 3rd step prayer in the big book every day for 2 weeks and then tell him when I felt that I was willing to turn things over to a higher power.
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!”
A.A. World Services Inc (2013-12-02). Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition (Kindle Locations 1034-1036). A.A. World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I spent quite a bit of time searching for a way to get through this and feel comfortable with the wording of it. I read the 12 and 12, and the big book, I talked with some people about it. I struggled with this wording. It makes my skin crawl.
Now, my sponsor had told me that it was okay if I changed the words, but (perhaps the my inner Catholic school boy is stronger than I thought) I ignored that. See, when a prayer is written down, it’s in stone. At least in my mind. If you change it, well, then it’s not the same. Words matter.
I never re-wrote the prayer in my own words.
Because I struggle so much with the idea of an omniscient deity, I started to explore this from a different perspective — Secular Western Buddhism. I’ve read a number of texts from modern Buddhist teachers including Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön, Tara Brach, and Jack Kornfield and have felt much more attracted to the language in these books.
As I’ve written before, the book One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, by Kevin Griffin has been exceedingly helpful in my journey. After reading the chapter on the 3rd step in the book I genuinely felt like I’d maybe gotten there. I felt that there is a genuine oneness to human experience, and that there are fundamental principles that govern right and wrong. Perhaps this is Dharma.
Now, to be fair, I never talked about any of this with my sponsor, I just did it on my own and felt good about it.
I also never said that prayer.
Recently, I’ve been talking about getting on to the 4th step and I’ve felt like it keeps getting pushed to the side, not necessarily by me. Finally, my sponsor told me that maybe we needed to talk about steps 1, 2, and 3 a little more before we moved on.
He called me out.
Somehow, he knew that I’d never said the prayer. Probably because I never complained about it to him.
He reminded me that I should find my own words with this. At first I looked for other prayers written by other people. And, while the Buddhist Third Step prayer I found is really cool, it doesn’t completely resonate.
So, I decided to give it a shot and write my own, remaining true to the original meaning without the theistic overtones. I’ve spent a little time with this, and here’s what I’ve come up with. It’s not perfect. It may change. But it’s a start.
I can’t do this on my own. When I accept support and guidance, I can get through life’s difficulties and be a living example of loving kindness through my words and actions.