Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
The walls of most 12 Step rooms are adorned with simple sayings, aphorisms meant to imbed these core principles. There is one that summarizes Step 3 succinctly: Let go and let God.
If you’re like me, you might ask “How can something so simple be so difficult to practice?” How many stressful days have we endured, clinging to worries and resentments, refusing to have our fingers pried free? This slogan seems to taunt us. We may feel like shouting, “Easy for you to say!”
How can we really let go?
First, by remembering that the Steps are cumulative. As we mentally reiterate how they build on each other, we gradually align ourselves with their pattern.
In Step 1 we realize that we engage in unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. They make our lives unmanageable, affecting our health, relationships, and creative potential. Step 1 helps us diagnose our “stinking thinking.”
In Step 2 we realize a two-fold truth. These thoughts and behaviors are insane, an example of doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Perhaps with a tinge of despair, we realize that our attempts to change using our own willpower have been fruitless. We need the help of a power greater than ourselves.
Step 3 asks us to take action. Do we really believe in the unmanageability of our negativities? Do we really believe there is a presence – most often called God – that can assist us with liberation?
If our answer is a soulful YES; if we have truly had enough and desire freedom, Step 3 says “Let go; turn over you will; trust that your higher power will lead you to a new level of consciousness!”
Does this happen in one gigantic catharsis? No! Do we have such a clear and miraculous epiphany that we never return to our old ways. No!
This is a process, a daily turning over, a minute by minute letting go of the thoughts and behaviors that twist our lives. Practice is what leads to serenity. Siddhartha, who didn’t believe in a personal soul or deity, still held to a pattern that he called The Middle Way. It became his higher power.
A friend who hosts the Facebook page Thump recently described it this way.
“I have come to believe that we don’t go find God; we clear space and God fills in. We dissemble the apparatus of a fear-driven, self-centered life…It’s hard – really hard – because it goes against every mother-loving, self-preserving instinct…We break ourselves down. The Steps are self-reduction: addition of God by subtraction of self.”
A favorite way to describe the acronym EGO is Edging God Out. It helps to think of Step 3 in the same way. Our fears and resentments fill the space of our lives with insane, repetitive delusions. Whether we use prayer, meditation, guided imagery, chanting, yoga, self-talk, scripture, the counsel of a friend, or a host of other disciplines, the message is the same…
Let go and let God…Breathe deeply…find freedom…