30 March 2011

Step Three

Step Three of AA says, "Relieve me of the bondage of self." The 3rd step of AA says,"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

When the alcoholic or addict has reached the third step, the final act of a destructive lifestyle will be buried. Step One says, “I can’t.” While Step Two says, “He can.” With Step Three the first two steps are combined and we say, “I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let Him.” Step Three is the final surrender.

I’ve admitted and accepted that my life was out of control. There was nothing within my power that could correct my past. Nothing until I asked for help – from a Higher Power. Which was not an easy task. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, but rather, He had been out of my life for so long, I didn’t know if I could trust him with my life.

It had been so long since I tried a life without alcohol that I wasn’t convinced that no one, not even God, could show me a better way. But I also knew that the way I was living had to come to an end.

When I admitted to being an alcoholic, for the second time, on Labor Day 1994, I knew for this sobriety to work, I had to treat it more then an inconvenient lifestyle change. Just as a diabetic needs a shot of insulin to survive everyday, I needed to accept that for my medical illness, I needed the twelve steps of AA everyday.

There are numerous ways to learn these steps, but I chose two. One was going to AA meetings, while the other involved counseling. Together they were a power antidote for me. AA gave me the practical experience of others in recovery, while counseling gave me an education – of my self.

My counseling was done by a true gift from God. She was the right person, for me at the right time. In a few sessions she realized that for me to make counseling work – it had to be treated as a college course. With handouts and weekly homework. And it worked for me. I needed to read, I needed to study, and continue to learn – not about alcoholism, but rather about myself.

The third step was the first time that she asked me to memorize something. It was the third step prayer. It would become part of my morning meditations as well as my evening prayers. At first “I didn’t get it.” But the more I said it, both silently and out loud, the more I began to understand.

God, I offer myself to Thee--to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me from 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! From The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (p. 63);

Read the pray. Re-read it. Then read it again. It is a powerful pray. “Relieve me of the bondage of self,” says it all. For the first time, I no longer looked at everything wondering, what’s in it for me? I began to understand that to have a successful life, it was more about giving then about taking.

My Higher Power, God, was giving to me – what I was unable to give to myself.

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