Saturday, January 5, 2008

will power

Step 3 -- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In having reread step 3 out of the Twelve and Twelve a couple of times it seems that the essence of the step is that to turn my life and will over to the care of God, I need to use my will. A conundrum. To lose your will, use your will.

... for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God ...
Action implies something that I do. Not something I wait for. So I'm still at having to use the very thing I am to turn over to God's care. Arghhhhh.

The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are. Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.
So, once I learn to turn my will over to God, become willing to depend upon God, I become independent. So anyone else a bit confused? I understand this a bit. In the chapter on step 3, there is an explanation about how we give up a bit of our will when we decide to come to AA for help. When I could admit that I needed help, become dependent, so to speak, on AA to help me with my drinking, I could lose the obsession to drink. It still amazes me that something that occupied my days now plays such a small part of my day to day living. I don't understand how the change came about but I am very grateful for that change. I know when the change came, the day I put myself into God's hands. Now, if only I could have the same for my anger, my fear, my self-pity.

All by himself, and in the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop the quality of willingness. When he acquires willingness, he is the only one who can make the decision to exert himself. Trying to do this is an act of his own will. All of the Twelve Steps require sustained and personal exertion to conform to their principles and so, we trust, to God's will.

It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin to use it rightly .... Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower, We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God's intention for us.
My biggest struggle in sobriety has been with fear. I have a loved one who struggles in addiction and I carry a great deal of fear over this. Last night, as this person occupied my thoughts, I placed the person in God's hands, asking for God to bring them to a place where they could surrender their will and live over to God's care. As I did so, I was struck with fear. In praying as I did, I would give up control. I would not know what the outcome was going to be. It is very difficult for me to trust the outcome to God. This is a scenario that has filled my life. A deep fear of the unknown future. I know it's a needless, termite ridden, fear. It exists, but only within my thinking. All my family members, at one time or another, have generated that fear within me.

To me, it comes unbidden, part of the atmosphere. 78% Nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 32.5% fear.

How does one practice step 3?

In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.

I have no control over people, circumstances or institutions. I can change myself only. As I change, I can influence by example. No further can I go.

All quotes from Chapter Three of the Twelve and Twelve.


YamadogGirl said...

There are two pre-steps to step 3.

The 1st pre-step is on page 60 "The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success."

The second pre-step is on page 62 "Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. ..."

Then on page 63 "We are now at Step 3..." I'm not gonna type all this, please refer to your Big Book.

The 3rd Step Prayer is broken into five components:

1)"build with me.." - tear down the old

2) "do with me as thou wilt..." - He rebuilds

3) "bondage of self.." - the chains and ropes of selfish and self-seeking behavior

4) "take away my difficulties..." - takes away the selfish, self-seeking

5) "Victory over them may bear witness..." - we are changing the selfish and self-seeking because of God, we provide proof to others through personal knowledge.

Whew! No wonder the book then says "We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him."

I've been sober just a small amount of time, but I have to practice this Step daily. Some days it is easier, some days I fail miserably, but, I keep doing my best to do God's will and that is all He requires of me.

Having put this step into action I am at peace, I am more serene, I do feel I am doing the right thing, and I do feel happiness. That is because I let God handle it all (my dependence on Him) and I receive all those things above because of Him (which is my freedom/independence).

The whole Step 3 is covered on pages 60 "Being convinced..." to page 63 ending with the last paragraph "We found..."

As a side note of information, the 12 Steps are only found in the Big Book. The 12 & 12 Book was written 10 years after and is a collection of essays based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, they are a wonderful tool for gaining further understanding, but the Big Book is the only source for the Steps. Just thought I would share that, I thought it was interesting.

Hope this helped answer your question on how we do this in our life, thanks for helping this alkie today.


indistinct said...

Thank you, Kimberly, for taking the time to type in all your experience with step three. As I read and reread it, it reminded me of what my sponsor had already shown me. Of what the group of men with whom I did a walk through the steps with have shown me. What Joe and Charlie had shown me.

I seemed to have lost everything I had learned in my lurch away from fear. (details in my Jan 7th posting.)

I am very appreciative of the grounding that your post gave me. I am what I am, and that's all that I am. We struggle together.

I have rebelled against God in the past and will do so in the future. I can see that my struggle with self will will be a life time affair. I hope it gets a little easier, but it also will be as it God wants it to be.

Thank you again.

On the other topic, of big book vs 12 and 12. When I came into the program, most of the meetings I went to, we would read a chapter or part of a chapter out of the 12 and 12 and that would be our discussion topic. I felt frustrated and wanted to find a big book meeting. When I found one, they seemed to be against the 12 and 12 as an authority to work the steps, that only the big book was to be trusted.

This left me confused and still does. Part of this is my fear of relapse, of wanting to work the perfect program. And I usually take the advice of the last person I've talked with, ignoring everything else I've heard. That part is bull shit.

Another part is curious. I thought that Bill W. wrote both books. He is the author of all the words. I feel that we should be able to use the books in tandem, gleaming the best out of both. That is what I am trying to do. I need to constantly remind myself that I am aiming for progress, not perfection. No such thing as a perfect program.

I stay sober, you stay sober, we work the steps the same and yet different. Our goals are the same. Our journey towards our Higher Power.

Again, thank you for sharing so much richness.

YamadogGirl said...

Thank you for your comments. I want to clarify that I'm not saying don't use the 12 & 12, it is an awesome book and very helpful.

But the Big Book is where we find the 12 Steps of our program and how we are supposed to live them.

The 12 & 12 book has essays based on the 12 Steps of the Big Book (the experiences of others with the 12 Steps). I just wanted to share this, because I thought it was good information, but I would never tell someone to not read or use the 12 & 12.

I use both the Big Book and the 12 & 12 when I sponsor woman. We absorb ourselves into both. The 12 & 12 helps them understand something they may not have in the Big Book, but after they understand, I refer them back to the Big Book so the connection is made.

Thanks again!