Step 3: turning it over – Episode 14

Swetha, Spencer, and Kelli talk about our experience and understanding of Step 3, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.” Spencer kicks off the discussion by with his initial problem with that step. He did not grow up with an image of a God that he was willing to turn his life over to. Kelli agrees that she felt similarly, and asks for feedback from listeners who came into the program with a helpful concept of God. Her initial reaction was “how can I get around this step?” Swetha also talks about her disbelief in the God of her parents. We all wanted to retain control of our lives.

The question then arose, how did we get around our resistance to Step 3? Spencer points out that the step talks about turning our lives over to the care of our higher power, which he took to mean that he could agree to accept the guidance of his Higher Power or not. He also recognized that his self-will had brought him to the point where he needed Al-Anon, that his thinking had not done the best job of leading him to a good life. He also came to an understanding of God as a loving force, who wanted the best for him. It was much easier for him to conceive of turning his will and his life over to the care of a loving God. For Kelli, the key was to have an honest completion of Step 2, to recognize that her Higher Power could restore her to sanity. She recalls a day when she saw the sun rising, and realized that it was happening without any effort on her part, and that she was not in control of lots of things. Another help was to listen to others share at meetings about how step 3 worked in their lives. Swetha suggests that she was almost working Step 3 out of spite, to “show” us that it would not work for her! She shares a story where she turned a “little” thing over, and had a good outcome. Experiences like that helped her to accept Step 3 in her life.

Anne Lamott, in Traveling Mercies, relates a story of her friend who prays “Whatever” in the morning, and “Oh, well” at night. Spencer finds this helpful in his working of Step 3. “Whatever” is the short form of “Thy will be done”, expressed in a way that’s easier for him to say. And “Oh, well” is the prayer of acceptance, that what happened was the way it should have happened.

How do we hear the voice of our Higher Power in our daily lives? Spencer relates a story where he heard that “still, small voice” (which is a rare experience for him) that guided him to a good outcome in a conflict he was having with his wife. What the voice told him was not what he wanted to hear, but when he heeded it, the result was good for both of him. More frequently, he needs to reach out to the program, by going to a meeting, or by calling his sponsor or another Al-Anon friend. Kelli commonly hears her Higher Power through other people, and also finds prayer and meditation helpful. The previous night, she had a problem that could not be immediately resolved, so she rolled out her yoga mat, did some yoga, and reached serenity. Kelli refers to the book Help, Thanks, Wow, the 3 Essential Prayers, also by Anne Lamott. She spent the previous week travelling for business with her husband, a situation in which she needed to call on her Higher Power for help, and was happy that she could. Swetha sends multi-page texts to her sponsor when she needs help. Frequently, she finds that by just writing out her problem, she finds a solution. Just the act of asking for help can be sufficient to get the guidance she needs. A crucial piece of Step 3 for Kelli is recognizing that her Higher Power was always there for her, she only needed to reach out and put her faith in her HP in order to access that help.

Spencer had been at a workshop, Loving Sober, the day before. The presenter said that his only responsibility in his relationship was to “see his partner as the expression of God that she is.” For Spencer, this illuminated another aspect of really accepting God into his life. That is, that everybody is part of, and an expression of God. If he is to turn his will and life over to the care of his Higher Power, he must work to see other people as God sees them. When he can do that, he can let go of his resentments and expectations, and love them. Another part of working Step 3 for him is in accepting other expressions of spirituality, even those that don’t seem to line up with his own, because it allows him to find new value and new spiritual experiences.

Swetha grew up in a mixed religious environment and felt surrounded by it, and couldn’t run away from it, so she started taking what she liked and left the rest. It turns out that a lot of the things she took were things we talk about in Al-Anon. She reflects on coming to trust other people, very gradually, in the program, breaking through her fear of vulnerability. She thinks she felt the same about developing a relationship with her higher power. As that relationship developed, she started reconnecting with what she had learned in her childhood.

We end with a letter from a friend who grew up in relation with a loving God. When she came into Al-Anon, she felt that Step 3 was a “gimme” for her. But later, she found that she was having issues that needed a “3rd step” solution. She uses the AA 3rd step prayer to turn over her life to God daily, just “getting out of God’s way.”

Our topic for next week is asking for help. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the show

You've Got the Love – Florence and the Machine

Download from Amazon


Surrender to His Will – Reverend Maceo Woods and The Christian Tabernacle Choir

 Links to stuff we talked about

Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott,
Help, Thanks, Wow, Anne Lamott,
Loving Sober, Jay Stinnett,
Interview with Father Greg Doyle,
How Music Works, David Byrne,

More Music

The Spotify playlist includes the songs we considered for inclusion in the show.

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