Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I must admit that upon reaching this step my thoughts were something along the lines of this: “So, here we are. Face to face with the religion inherent in these steps. God. Him. I’ll never be able to deal with this.
Many people told me something along the lines of “but it’s God as you understand Him. Not helpful. My understanding of God was that he was that relative who came over at Thanksgiving, got drunk, insulted everyone, and pissed in the bathroom floor before leaving in a huff. That was my experience with the God of my childhood.
It wasn’t until I understood that I could let go of that God, the God of my childhood, that I was even able to consider this step as it is written. And, to be honest, even then it triggered me.
I was not ready to give up my free will or my life to a deity. I read and re-red the step. I dissected it over and over and completely missed the critical words in the step.
When I noticed these words in the step I felt like I’d been thrown a life line. Maybe I could work with this?!
My sponsor at the time told me to read the Third Step Prayer in the Big Book and you say it every day for two weeks. I didn’t do that. I couldn’t get past the archaic language. It ruffled my feathers so much that I decided to “fake it til I made it” – bad advice in my opinion but that’s another blog post.
After two weeks I told my sponsor that I was ready to move on to step four. “No your not, you haven’t done step three yet.” I don’t know how he knew that but he did and I confessed that I couldn’t get past that language and he told me to write it in my own words. Apparently I am not alone in this because the blog post about re-writing the 3rd step prayer is the most viewed post on this site.
Even after writing that post I was not sure if I’d done it right. I continued to search. I’ve read many alternate versions of this step in Secular AA sites and books and I like this version from The Alternative 12 Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery a lot:
Make a decision to be open to spiritual energy as we take deliberate action for change in our lives.
When I break down this step today, I’ve eliminated all the references to a deity and spirituality. For me, it’s really quite simple.
I can’t do this on my own. I need help from a variety of sources and I need to be willing to ask for it, regularly.