RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
V Broaden and Deepen Your Understanding of the Twelve Steps
3) Step Three
Broaden and deepen your understanding of Step Three.


“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM.”

1. In the 12 & 12, please turn to p.34, the first page of Step Three. In the first paragraph, the fourth line says:

“There is only one key, and it is called willingness.”

Skipping a few lines:

“This is the way to a faith that works.”

Skipping to the third line from the bottom of the page, in the middle of the line, it says:

“In fact, the effectiveness of the whole A.A. program will rest upon how well and 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.’”

2. This emphasizes that the Third Step does not, at this point, call for the action of actually turning our will and life over to the care of God as we now understand Him. The action called for in the Third Step is merely to come to a DECISION to turn our will and life over to the care of God as we now understand Him.

3. In the 12 & 12, on p. 35, the top paragraph, the fifth line says:

“Fortunately, we who have tried it, and with equal misgivings, can testify that anyone, anyone at all can begin to do it. We can further add that a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed.”

4. The concept that we must do a perfect step before we can move on is refuted here. It is saying that even the SMALLEST beginning is all that is needed and ANYONE at all can make a beginning.

5. In the fourth line of the next paragraph it tells us that:

“Every man and woman who has joined A.A. and intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three.”

6. By starting this process, and intending to finish it, you HAVE made a beginning on Step Three.

7. There’s another aspect to this: dependence.

8. In the 12 & 12, on p.36, starting with the last word on the tenth line from the top of the page, it tells us:

“The more we become willing to depend on 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.”

9. In the 12 & 12, on p.38, in the second paragraph, starting with the 2nd word of the last sentence, it says:

“...dependence upon an A.A. group or upon a Higher Power hasn’t produced any baleful results.

When World War II broke out, this spiritual principle had its first major test.”

10. Some people believe that their recovery is based on a physical program. They sometimes say, “Well, I haven’t been to a meeting in a while so I feel lousy,” or “I lost my abstinence because I didn’t go to enough meetings or make enough phone calls.”

11. Obviously, when World War II broke out, the soldiers did not take along their sponsors, they did not have phones in their foxholes, they did not usually have meetings down at the PX. What they DID have was a dependence upon a Power greater than themselves, a Power they trusted and with whom they sought to improve their conscious contact, or if you will, sought to understand.

12. In the 12 & 12, at the top of p.39, it says:

“And far from being a weakness, this dependence was their chief source of strength.”

13. On p.39, starting with the last sentence, it says:

“More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety, and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining Steps of the A.A. program come in. Nothing short of continuous action upon these as a way of life can bring the much-desired result.”

14. The Big Book mentions the word “permanent” several times and the 12 & 12 mentions it here. The promise of this program, the “much-desired result” is “permanent sobriety, and a contented, useful life.” Why would anyone go through this process for anything less?

15. In the 12 & 12, on p.40, the last full paragraph tells us:

“It is when we try to make our will conform with God’s that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. 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. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door.”

16. The purpose of these steps is to bring our will into accordance with whatever God’s will might happen to be. That does not mean we necessarily have to LIKE it. What it does mean, is that we need to work at accepting and trusting whatever His will might be.

17. We needed to recognize that God does not necessarily do it our way. He does not have to follow our good orderly directions. God is NOT our servant. He is not responsible for doing things our way.


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