This week's HTYH is about the third step of AA's 12-step program, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." *[The Twelve-Step program is a spiritual way of life. The first half of the first step, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol," is a spiritual experience and so is the second step, "We came to believe a power greater than us could restore us to sanity." We need more than physical capabilities; we need our full faculties as a human being to hear the message, to think about it, to review the effects of the past, to realize, to admit, and to accept. These processes are activities of the mind, which is part of our spirit. We began with blind faith, but the proof of truth is that it works. At first we believed those who said they suffered from alcoholism, but through A.A., were now enjoying sobriety. So the truth was there for us to see. But shortly we knew the truth from our own experience. We were not only released from the compulsion to drink; we were guided toward a "compulsion to live!"
The description of Alcoholics Anonymous as "a spiritual program" has been confusing to some newcomers, many of whom translate "spiritual" as "religious." But as Dr. Bob said, "We are not bound by theological doctrine...We are many minds in our organization designed as an outlet for the rich diversity of convictions implied in "God as we understood Him."] The third step requires us to make a "decision," and so I will continue this third step discussion with a quote from professor Chesnut's book, "The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program": Those old-timers who have the greatest serenity make a big point of continually practicing the presence of God-consciousness, which permeates in one way or another all their waking thoughts. They begin every morning by simply saying, "God please keep me sober today." Then they purposefully commit themselves to turning their lives and wills over to the care of God for the rest of that day. Some recite the third-step prayer every morning:"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 way 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!"
Sometimes we fall into the error of setting superhuman and totally unrealistic standards for our behavior, and refuse to allow ourselves to be simple, ordinary, fallible human beings. Our Creator knows better, He loves our eccentricities, limitations and peculiarities, and has no desire to change us, as long as we are not doing grave harm to ourselves, or others. The old-timers tell us that they end each day by simply saying, "God, thank you for keeping me sober today." To be continued...
*Excerpt taken from, "Came To Believe," Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 73-164457; ISBN 0-916856-05-4