What is the Third Step of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The third step of Alcoholics Anonymous is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”. Many recovering alcoholics lament over the fact that they agree to turn their will and their lives over to God and in the next sentence take that will and life back. It is difficult to relinquish control of our lives to anyone. Alcoholics Anonymous describes the alcoholic as self-will run riot. Unfortunately we have first hand knowledge of what happens when an active alcoholic runs his life on his will alone. The interesting thing that happens when we turn our life and will over to God, we actually become free, not enslaved. Our lives start to work; our bills get paid, we get along with our spouses, children and friends. People want to spend time with us thereby making life more enjoyable. We no longer live with guilt and remorse. We can hold our heads up without shame.

The beginning of the third step talks about “making a decision”. This is a choice we make. As active alcoholics we begin to lose the privilege to make choices as life slowly slips away from us. We no longer have a choice over our drinking as the drinking makes the choice for us. The only choice the drink ever makes is to take another drink. The first step of Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit we have a problem. The second step is to believe that God can help us get sober. The third step is the beginning of claiming back the privilege of making a choice and that choice needs to be turning our will and lives over to God as we understand Him. This decision is an action not a feeling. Often we make decisions that don’t always make us happy or produce a feeling of well being. In making a decision to punish our children, we are not happy about it but we do it. It is an action that we take. AA says “bring the body and the heart will follow”. Make the decision to turn your will and life over to God as you understand Him.

The last part of step three is to figure out how we perceive God. What does God mean to us? Is God an all powerful, all knowing being or do we not call him God but call him our higher power as is suggested in Alcoholics Anonymous for people who have a hard time with the God of the Bible. The important part is to believe that there is something or someone more powerful than we are and who has our best interest at heart.

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