Let Go and Let God - Working the Third Step in Recovery

Life is full of contradictions. On the one hand, we are blessed with the gift of free will, but on the other hand we are completely powerless over so many things in our lives, unable to exert our will on our reality. In our active addiction, we became obsessed with trying to force our will onto our reality in order to continue our substance abuse. Now that we have transitioned to sobriety, it is an important part of your success in recovery for you to learn to let go of your idea of control and accept your higher power as the ultimate arbiter of your reality.

The third step in the twelve steps of AA reads as follows: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” Put plainly, you are asked only to make an effort to accept God’s will in your life rather than your own. This is one of those steps that takes a lifetime to master, as we often take our own will back and attempt to influence our reality. When this happens, we end up angry and frustrated when things do not go our way. It is important you turn back to your higher power in these times of anger, rather than seek relief in your substance of choice. The resulting negative emotions are there to teach you a lesson - attempting to exert your will on your reality is fruitless, you should instead turn to the God of your understanding and ask Him to guide you in His will for your life.

There will be times when you do not understand why situations in your life turn out the way they do. Perhaps you lose a close friend to an overdose, or you are fired from a job you enjoy. While at first these seem like senseless losses in your life, but in these trying times you must remember that your higher power has both your best interests and the best interests of others at heart, so these losses will only further your progress in life in the long run. There is no point in questioning the purpose behind these losses or trying to figure out their meaning. Your free will allows you to assign a positive meaning to these events, using them as motivation for your progress in sobriety and in life. In light of this, you should stop questioning events in your life and start using them as motivation for your development in life and in recovery.

Learning to set aside your will and accept the will of your higher power takes a lifetime to accomplish. Everyone comes up short in their attempts to achieve this goal, so do not let a failure dissuade you from continuing to put forth effort in your attempt to work the third step. Any time you catch yourself taking your will back and attempting to force your desired outcome on a situation or person in your life, you need to step back, take a breath, and pray to your higher power, asking that he grant you patience and acceptance so you may live as he sees fit, not how you desire. So long as you keep putting forth effort towards letting go of your will and accepting the will of your higher power, you will remain safely ensconced in the care and protection of your creator and will prevail in all your endeavors which God intended for you!