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Step Study - Step 3

Old 02-05-2008, 06:19 AM
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Step Study - Step 3

If you are just joining in, this is an online Step Study. Each of the 12 steps will have its own thread, so you can participate at whatever level you are comfortable.

Most of the information here comes from the books Paths To Recovery, Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts and How Al Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics, along with some readings from Courage to Change, One Day at a Time in Al Anon II.

The first 2 steps are “stickies” at the top of the page.

Intro to Step Three from Paths to Recovery, Al Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts. p. 28

In Step One we learned that many of our problems may have resulted from our ineffective efforts to manage our own lives; in Step Two we came to believe that a Higher Power could help restore us to sanity;. It naturally follows that the next Step would be turning to that Power for help. Some members shorten the first three Steps to, “I can’t. God can. I’ll let Him.” Obviously if our past efforts have been futile, and if we believe that a Power can help us, it makes sense to allow that power to do so.

The first phrase of Step Three, “Made a decision,” shows us that we have choices. We make this decision when we are ready. Everyone works through the Steps at their own pace, in many cases returning to earlier Steps over and over again until ready to move to the next one. No one compels us to turn over our will. We choose to do this because the way of life we created on self-will alone was neither satisfying nor serene.

What decision are we making? We are asked “to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Few of us are able to immediately turn over everything in our lives; making the decision to do so is merely a commitment to try. To illustrate this aspect of Step Three, a member posed the following: “Three frogs sat on a lily pad. One made a decision to jump off. How many frogs are left?” The answer is three. The frog merely made the decision to jump – he hasn’t jumped yet!
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Old 02-05-2008, 06:21 AM
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Courage to Change ODAT in Al-Anon II 1/23

In Step Three we “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This is a big decision for those of us who have a tough time making even small decisions. Until I found Al Anon, I tended to let others decide how I should live, where I should go, and what I should do. The paradox is that, though I took little responsibility for my own life, I saw myself as an expert on everyone else’s life and felt accountable for all that happened.

The order in which the first three Steps are written helps me to overcome these attitude problems. First, I accept my inability to control the disease of alcoholism and admit that my life is unmanageable. Next, I come to believe that a Power greater than myself can help. After taking these two Steps, it becomes possible, desirable, and even logical, to make the enormous decision to trust my life to a Higher Power’s care.

Today’s Reminder:

At the start of each day I can make the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. This way I begin my day with a strong assertion that I choose to accept the reality of my life. I am moving in a healthy direction, growing ever more able to live a good life and to love those I meet along the way.

“Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.” –Paul Tillich
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Old 02-05-2008, 06:25 AM
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The paradox is that, though I took little responsibility for my own life, I saw myself as an expert on everyone else’s life and felt accountable for all that happened.
It took me awhile to understand that paradox, too. I felt accountable and responsible for everyone else's life. I took the credit when things went well for my spouse and my kids, and I accepted the blame when things went badly. I wore myself out mentally, physically and emotionally as I rushed from person to person, doing all of those things we do to make them comfortable and to keep them from feeling any pain. I look back on it now and realize how many times I protected my sons from some fairly large consequences ~~ and robbed them of the opportunity to learn some really important life lessons.

The good news is, I can forgive myself today. I was doing the best I could at the time. Today I know that I only have me to worry about, and as long as I turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand Him, we'll have a good day.
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Old 02-05-2008, 06:26 AM
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Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
How do I feel about turning my life over to a Higher Power for guidance?

How do I know who or what my Higher Power is?

Am I willing to try to turn my problems over? What could help me to be willing?

How can I stop thinking, trying and considering, and actually make a decision?

Have I had a problem making decisions in my life? Give examples.

If I am unable to make this decision, what holds me back?

Do I trust my Higher Power to take care of me?

How might Step Three help me keep my hands off situations created by others?

What consequences have I had by obsessing on problems and other people?

When I “Let Go and Let God” take care of my life, am I willing to follow the guidance I receive?

How can I turn a situation over and let go of the results?

How can I stop myself from taking my will back?

What can I do when my loved ones make decisions I don’t like?

How can I let my loved ones find their own life paths as I am finding mine?

What can I do to try to see others as God sees them?

How can I express God’s will in my actions and words towards others, including the alcoholic?
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:49 AM
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Turning it over- that is what I will practice today.
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Old 02-05-2008, 10:00 AM
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Thanks SS. For me, the difficulty came with the first 3 words: Made a Decision. There was a time in my life that I was so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that I was paralyzed when I had to make a decision. If I was wrong then there was h*ll to pay. It was easier just to acquiesce to my ex... if he made all the decisions then I wasn't going to be held accountable. (Ah, but I was, nonetheless). I had a bit of time in Al Anon before I learned that NOT deciding was still making a decision!

Then I had to decide to turn my will and my life over. I had already done that - TO MY EX ! And look how that had turned out. Wouldn't it be better if I just kept doing things my way? What if I didn't like the outcome? What if what if what if?????

To the care of God as we understood Him? I didnt even like the God of my childhood, let alone TRUST him. Again, it took time in the program before I learned I could fire that God and hire a new one. My sponsor had me look at people I admired - celebrities, others in recovery, family members - and write down the good qualities of each one. She said I should take that list and assign all of those wonderful attributes to my new Higher Power. I did, and it worked. Today I have a loving and wonderful Higher Power with a wicked fun sense of humor.

Step 3 is a big one - but it's worth taking the time.
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Old 02-05-2008, 10:06 AM
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I am currently working the steps with someone. I rushed through 1,2,3 and then was postponing 4. Thanks for reminding me to take time.
To move on to step 4 your post got me to ask myself: " Do I feel complete about my work on the first three steps?" The answer is NO.
It is back to the 1,2,3 waltz.
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Old 02-05-2008, 02:17 PM
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SS,

I have been in Al Anon for about 14 years. The first 2 years, I went to meetings and listened. I read the steps, thought I could do them myself. I knew life was a mess, I knew of God, and I figured He might help with the big stuff.... I called people once in awhile, I didn't have a sponsor. I absolutely couldn't do a 4th step on myself. Now, I could do my EX's 4th step all day long ! I could tell you everything he did wrong, that's for sure.

I dabbled with Al Anon for a few yrs, doing it that old way. Then my life crashed down around me. Thank GOD I knew where to go. I crawled into an Al Anon meeting and cried. For the next month or so all I did was walk into the meeting, sit down, and cry. And those wonderful people kept telling me Keep Coming Back. And I did. It didn't take me long to get a sponsor and to work a step study with others in recovery. We took our time, each at her own pace. You'll be ready to do Step 4 (and subsequent steps) when you're ready, and not a moment before. As long as you're working on a step, you're moving in the right direction.

Thanks for sharing this step study with me!

Cats
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:04 PM
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Today’s Reminder:

At the start of each day I can make the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. This way I begin my day with a strong assertion that I choose to accept the reality of my life. I am moving in a healthy direction, growing ever more able to live a good life and to love those I meet along the way.
This is something I do on my drive into work every morning...I have a little chat with my HP and let him know that I want to turn my will and my life over to him today. I've told him all about how I have this tendency to pull it back and try to do it my own way (especially when things are going well...why do I need a little help if it's going like I want?) I've told him that I am truly to a point where I have trust in him, but I am still working on this business of turning it over and keeping it turned over, and any help he can give to keep it moving forward sure would be appreciated, 'cause I want to make that decision a reality... every day. I think I'm the frog who jumps off the lily pad then jumps back on it, over and over, lol. But I am trying, and little by little as I keep working the program and listening for that quiet voice inside that I know is HP, I'm making headway.

I too never really liked the god of my childhood. Working on the steps and working my program has opened the door to a whole new God of my understanding. I really like the relationship I'm developing and I love taking walks with my HP. I love the miracles he shows me every day...They were always there, I just didn't look.

Thanks Cat for this great step study!
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:52 PM
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OMG - the god of my childhood, yep, don't like "him" - won't even dignify it with a capital letter! But, I've been an avid fan of Joseph Campbell, Mysteries of the Bible, etc. for years and years now, and I have found that the more crowded my perception of faith and god is, the stronger my faith is. I can't really tell you what my faith is in exactly, but HP describes it very well. I am open to most all thoughts and ideas of spirituality - just not the ones that are dogmatic, riddled with guilt, rules, etc. I am so far away from working this step in one way, but there is a part of me that does actually work this step most everyday. I can't think where I would be (as much as it's not the greatest place) without knowing that "the answer will come" each day. I work very hard to figure it out in the meantime sometimes, but rarely to the point where I'm not open to it coming from an unexpected place, and then I laugh at myself and all the wasted energy! But, sometimes, it turns out that I haven't wasted the energy at all - it serves me later for something else. I can't wait to get to this one! Ahhhhh - but I know, take the steps at my own pace, but there's a part of me that wants to just rush right through them - to get to that place - patience for me!
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Old 02-06-2008, 01:36 AM
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When I first worked these steps I had my codependent heels dug in pretty deep.

When I first made my "decision" to let God take over, I think I had a time limit on it, as if I needed to see proof that He could do a better job than I was doing. It was like I turned my life and will over to God....until a week next Tuesday. And then when nothing earth shaking happened, I took my will back.

I learned that God works in my life with His timing, not mine. I learned that no matter how well intended my plans were, He often had other plans for me. This annoyed me at first, until I began to see that He could do for me what I could not do for myself. I began to feel just a little bit of peace when I prayed, I began to see that there was a gift in every obstacle on my path and that God's gifts often came strangely wrapped. And I began to trust and find faith. Many days I traveled in blind faith, having no idea where I was going but trusting that I was being led.

One day sitting in church there was a moment of silent prayer where the pastor asked each of us to pray for something very special that we needed in our life. I asked God to remove my fear, fear that had torn my heart in two and been a dark cloud in my life for years. I just asked God to take it all...and I can't explain what happened next. Tears began flowing down my face, not the lump in my throat sobbing kinda tears, just water coming from my eyes and flowing down my cheeks. It was as if the "fear" was just washing away and I have never felt the same fear ever again. It was my first "spiritual awakening" and I now understood what that meant.

I begin each day today, with a prayer turning my life and my will over to God and also turning the care of my son over to Him. It sounds simple today, but it took me years to say that prayer and really mean it. Today I begin my days with that prayer and then live the rest of my day in faith that God's will is being done. For the first time in my life I feel free, at peace and unafraid of what any day might bring me. And I am grateful.

This is the 3rd Step prayer from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, a prayer that has led many of us through good days and bad.

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!
Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 63
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Old 02-06-2008, 03:44 AM
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I say NA's 3rd Step Prayer every day:

God, take my will and my life. Guide me in my recovery. Show me how to live.

Saying it reminds me that I made a decision to live a different way. It reminds me that starting out my day full of manipulative ideas for how to control people, places, or things so that things come out the way I want them to doesn't work. Trying to stay in control of others is quite exhausting. There are so many variables. What if they do this? say that? go here instead of there? I find myself coming up with plans and contingency plans for each possibility -and then finding I can't possibly control them all.

It's probably a good thing that I'm so busy because it becomes apparent very quickly that I really don't have the time it takes to push my will all over the place. I wind up exhausted, and also feeling guilty that I neglected things that really are my responsiblity, in my pursuit of controlling things that aren't.

This is not (for me) a decision I make once. Sometimes I have to make it many times in the same day. I know it works because I have collected evidence over several years of things working out better than I ever could have planned; or things being miraculously solved when I finally let go and did nothing to make them go my way. This step requires patience and trust. It also required open-mindedness - maybe I don't have all the answers, or know how 'it' is supposed to look, or go, or be.

In spite of so much 'evidence', it is still a struggle at tiimes to Let Go and Let God. When it comes to my AD, I want what I want. I don't want her to suffer and die, and I don't want to suffer watching her suffer and die. So I remind myself, again and again, that my God is loving, caring, greater than me, and greater than the disease of addiction. I remind myself that the disease of addiction is a Power greater than both my daughter, and me, and that I can't control it anyway. So I might as well allow a loving,caring, powerful force take care of the whole problem. So that makes sense (especially after an exhausting week/day/hour/5 minutes of living in my own will) and I let go again.
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:43 AM
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I really have appreciated and enjoyed everything that everyone has written on Step 3. The older that I get the easier it is to turn things over to God. It used to be that the things that I wanted I wanted so badly I was unwilling to ask for his will on the chance that it wasn't what I wanted. It has all boiled down to trust on my part....accepting that once the dust settles that there is rhyme and reason to all that occurs. The "healing" that I might have in mind is strictly on the human level....God sees things from a spiritual perspective - and one that allows us to deepen our relationship w/him. At least, that's my version of HP. It helps to newly create my HP - even though the God of my childhood was "ok" he wasn't really personal in my mind. To me, it seemed like he would be too busy to deal with my petty stuff. Taking the qualities that I admire in other's and assigning them to HP is a brilliant idea! HP already seems more personal and interested in me.

It helps me to remember to turn my will over first thing in the morning. I have to reprogram my brain all the time....I'm always startled by the way that I take things back w/o even knowing. When I do that it's like driving with my foot on the clutch - not a very smooth ride. Remembering to breathe is one way that I recenter myself.

I had trouble at first moving on with the 4th step. I came to understand that a thorough working of steps 1, 2, and 3 prepared me for the 4th step so that it finally felt like a relief to do. It was wonderful to thoroughly work it with a sponsor because it's now a tool that I use everytime I feel resentments bubble up - I go back to step 1/2/3 and then work a 4th step.

Trusting HP has helped me to deal with the fears that began to well up as I discovered them in step 4. I always have to remember, hey I've made a decision to turn this over to God. Maybe he has a better idea about this than I do.

Have a good day! Donna
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:02 AM
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Gosh, this is a scary step. "turning our will AND our lives"
Wow. It takes courage, and faith to realize
someone else knows what's best for us.


I begin my mornings also, with a prayer:

God, grant me courage and hope for today,
Faith to guide me along my way.
Understanding and wisdom, too
And grace to accept what life gives me to do.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:37 AM
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It used to be that the things that I wanted I wanted so badly I was unwilling to ask for his will on the chance that it wasn't what I wanted.
How true. I still find myself doing this sometimes. I understand now that prayer isn't about asking for something, but at the same time, when I want something soooo bad, I catch myself trying to kind of hide it in a little corner of my mind that maybe I can keep to the side and not have to turn it over. Maybe, this part of my will is okay to keep It takes such practice, this step, and as you all have said, it is one we have to come back to frequently. Hugs
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:50 AM
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I started working Step 9 (made amends except when it would cause injury...) with my sponsor recently and was caught by a little surprise. In a deeper way than ever before I GOT IT ... that I need to work diligently on amends to myself, that's the job I need to do right now.

In coversation with my sponsor 2 wks ago an illumination struck me ... Re-DO steps 1,2, and 3. Now I'm reworking Step 3 with a deeper spiritual realization after working Step 9. My self-amends has thrown me right back to the beginning where I need to stay grounded and focused on these first steps in everything I do.

I cannot do step 9 without actively working the first 3 steps. I discovered I needed to go more in-depth with them and to hold them closer each day like never before.

I'm so grateful for the powerful gift of insight and wisdom and healing change that comes to me when I focus on this step!
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