"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
As a person in recovery, it may be frightening to trust God. But simply look at what you have trusted in the past. You have trusted your own ability to think, your own ability to make choices. You have taken the advice of a few chosen people who have not necessarily acted in your best interests.
Turning your will and life over to God is necessary. It is through this trust experience with God that you begin to believe that God loves you. You begin once again to trust yourself. Eventually, you can even regain your trust in people. Step three of the 12 steps of recovery is an essential part of working the steps. It is not a luxury. It is necessary for a healthy, happy life. Working the steps is not always easy, and often you do not understand fully why you must work them. Often the steps are understood only after they have been completed. Then you realize the beauty of this spiritual process and open yourself to further growth and joy as you walk this road with others who are making the same steps toward recovery.
Step three refers to "Turning our will and lives over to the care of God." What do you think of when you hear the word "care?" It is often expressed in terms of someone who loves you, someone who demonstrates some kindness toward you, someone who is willing to get involved in your life, willing to get in there and be patient with you to work with you and not condemn you in the process, someone who can be nurturing. All these pictures of a loving parent or a loving friend can represent care. Care is felt in the release of energy from one person to another, usually through kind behaviors, like providing a listening ear or some other sign of concern.
How does this relate to God? What is the care of God? It is simply God's willingness to be involved in a nurturing, supportive, accepting way in your life. God is concerned for all addicts. God's concern for others in this world demonstrates that care. You can sometimes see it more clearly in the lives of others than you can in your own life. For some addicts, the group is a manifestation of the care of God in their lives. It is possible for you, by looking at others in your support group, to connect with this issue in such a way that it radically changes your life. Something as simple as their support can be seen as the extension of God's care and concern.
Now, we'll talk about God. The original writers of the 12 steps changed only one word from the initial version. In step two, they changed the word "God" to "a Power greater than ourselves." That is the only change they made, and it was made for this reason: Those first alcoholics said that God was too scary for the recovering person in step two. Maybe the recovering person had too many hurts, too many problems with God, so the word was changed to "a Power greater than ourselves" to give the newcomer an engagement period and allow them to experience God through the group's care, nurturing and love. In this way, they could come to believe in a caring God who could, and would, help them.
But who is God? Let me share my thoughts with you on this subject. Simply put, God is love. God is also in authority or in control, especially for those who turn their lives and will over to Him, and switch the authority from themselves to God.
According to what you have learned so far in the steps, God has the ability to restore you. God is more powerful than you are alone, or in a group. God is one who gets actively involved in your life, who has more power and more success than you in dealing with addiction. This God can and will help you as you work the 12 steps.
For many, this understanding of God will develop into a faith that is common in the American culture, and will enable the recovering sex addict to enjoy the benefits of finding a community that shares the same faith. Some will not. It is a universal blessing of this program, however, that they will, if they are willing to come to a greater relationship with God as they understand God.
The people who have turned their wills and lives over to the care of a God understand how God works and how God thinks. The group is a good resource, especially for those early in recovery who want an understanding of God. It is very important to realize, as it pertains to understanding God, that no single person is going to understand the totality of God, but the members of your support group can be helpful in this journey.
One way to interpret "as we understand God" from step three is to compare your understanding of God with the way you function in relationships with people, because we are talking about a relationship. When you first meet someone, your knowledge of them is limited. Only through time, communication and commitment to any relationship do you really come to understand another person. The same is true in your relationship with God. Coming to understand God is a process that is available to any and all in recovery who are willing to turn their wills and lives over, so that they can experience a new life, a new freedom and find happiness. The beauty of finding God in the 12 steps is that as you grow, your understanding of God grows too.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Final Freedom. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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