The original twelve steps are found in “the Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. “The Big Book” is thought of as the “bible” of Alcoholics Anonymous. It outlines the program of recovery, including the twelve steps and traditions, and varied stories of other alcoholics. Many people begin their journey in recovery from addiction by attending a twelve-step based drug and alcohol rehab treatment.
The Book proposes suggestions, and one of them is that the steps are to be worked in the order in which they are numerically listed. They build upon one another. It is also suggested that the steps are “worked” with you by someone who has done them, themselves. Oftentimes, this person is a sponsor. It is also suggested that you get a sponsor. So, if you are “working” the third step, you would have already worked the first and second steps.
What Is the Third Step?
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
– The Third Step, of Alcoholics Anonymous
“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
– The Third Step, of Narcotics Anonymous
So, the third step is two-fold: we make a decision to turn our will over to the care of God, as we understand him. Also, we make a decision to our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him.
Many a newcomer gets hung up on the concept of God. Chapter Four in the Book, “We Agnostics,” addresses this topic, which is often very controversial, like most matters concerning religion and God. Until we realize that our higher power, or “God,” can depend on our understanding, it is not likely that the spiritual awakening needed for recovery will take place.
What Makes Step Three Different From the First Two?
The first two steps require a great deal of reflection and acceptance. Whereas, the third step is the first “action step.” The Twelve & Twelve states that the third step requires “affirmative action… for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God.”
There is a more detailed description of the third step in the AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book;
“Like all the remaining Steps, Step Three calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God – or, if you like a Higher Power – into our lives. Faith, to be sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail nothing. We can have faith, yet keep God out of our lives. Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by what specific means shall we be able to let Him in? Step Three represents our first attempt to do this. In fact, the effectiveness of the whole A.A. program will rest upon how well and how earnestly we have tried to come to ‘a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him’.”
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 40
The third step is intended to relieve you from the bondage of self, which blocks you from being useful to your higher power and others. When working the third step, your sponsor may ask you to recite the Third Step Prayer, which reads: “God, I offer my self to Thee, to build with me and 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!”