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STEP THREE - FAITH IN ACTION
The longer I have been a member of the Fellowship of AA, the more I have realized that each of the 12 Steps are a spiritual tool that assists me in accepting life on life’s terms. Through continuous work of the Steps, I have been able to live and enjoy life without alcohol.
Just like physical tools can gather dust and become rusty if they are unused and left alone so can the spiritual tools within my life.
The most appropriate Step to apply the preceding analogy to would be Step Three. In practice, I find if I am regularly acknowledging and having faith in a God of my own understanding and turning my will and my life over to its care, I seem to be able to function and accept life on life’s terms. Therefore, I find that the tool of Step Three is sharp and ready. However, if I am not acknowledging a God in my life how can I turn my will and my life over to it?
Furthermore, in my experience self-will chomps at the bit waiting for the opportunity to eclipse God’s Will. In turn self-will can attract conflict and a lot of pride. Inevitably, this results in pain, which is the touchstone for growth!! Self-will has caused me a lot of pain to put it simply, even in sobriety. When this happens the tool of Step Three has become rusty. My remedy is the regular practice of Step Three.
When I initially discussed Step Three with my first sponsor, the matter of faith arose. He was quite blunt in relation to Steps One, Two and Three, “You either get them or you don’t”, he said with a steely gaze. At the time I didn’t doubt the validity of his statement. I have found this to be true in my own experience. Additionally, the corresponding Tradition to this Step outlines our requirement for membership as the ‘Desire to stop drinking’. Hindsight can add some focus to long past events when they seemed blurry in a recent past. Seemingly, when I had coupled my basic knowledge of Tradition Three with my basic knowledge of Step three plus two dollops of meetings and a sprinkling of Fellowship I had an applied understanding of Step Three. In short, if you are still unsure on Step Three, there will be an abundance of opportunities to ‘get it’.
Originally coming into AA with no work or qualifications, my life appeared well after eight years or so; I was qualified and paid accordingly in my field of work. I had got married and started a family.
Nevertheless, for the last four years of that, there was a lot of white-knuckling and self-will within me and my actions. Instinct and logic played their part and frustrated any spiritual development. I had skimped on meetings and didn’t always do service. This complacency caught up with me when I relapsed in March 2013. Cue feelings of guilt, shame, resentment and general beating myself up.
As consistent as I had been in the first four years, one day at a time I had stopped praying and stopped having a God of my understanding. For the last two years before my relapse, I did not have a sponsor as my previous sponsor had moved away. Does that sound like someone who had made a decision to turn their will and their life over to the care of a Higher Power?
I came back into AA after a few difficult months and got a new sponsor. We met for coffee and discussed Steps One, Two and Three. He told me his experience of Step Three, (which included a spiritual moment). He outlined the premise that it was a decision. Specifically he stated that if I can wholly define God then it’s not a power greater than myself. I found this inspiring and faith made another introduction into my life. I could have faith in a God that I could not wholly define.
As the chapter on Step Three says, ‘The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are.’ I have now been sober over three years.
The practice of Step Three on a continuous regular basis nurtures my acceptance of life as it is. I am reminded of Step Three regularly in meetings. I regularly say the Step Three prayer and Serenity Prayer. I am very thankful that I have seen and continue seeing other alcoholics come into the Fellowship and spiritually grow. I find this the most rewarding nourishment for my sobriety. The juggernaut of self-will can rear its ugly head from time to time. Fortunately the continuous practice of faith in a power greater than myself quickly helps me to realise whose will is at work and whose will works!!