Saturday, October 31, 2009

The 12 Steps of AA - Step 3

3. Step 3 - "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him."
This is called the "surrender' step by some. It's also a committment step. It denotes choice. "Made a decision." It's not like life is 'acting on us' anymore. Booze isn't in the driver's seat and we can't abdicate responsibility. We made a decision. We acknowledge we have will. We still have lives. The idea of "God as we understood him" is critical. This isn't a church God per se. It's rather a home made God. We have to define our own God. We have to individually figure out what God means to us and what God we can trust with our will and our lives.
What kind of 'unseen power' would we trust and what character would this God have. We can't select one off the rack. We can't have one tailor made. We must do the work of spiritual seekers and theologians down through the ages. We can have help. We can talk to all those who we think may know God. We usually get an idea of this through the outward manifestation of their lives. It's not like it's a test which we have to come up with all the answers by ourselves. Indeed the AA program encourages us to communicate with other human beings. That tends to discourage people from becoming legends in their own minds.
The first AA's talked a whole lot about God, certainly alot more than those who have trouble today staying sober. The God that they needed was one who could perform miracles. The first miracle their God had to perform was to take away the craving for alcohol. If a person was having difficulty staying sober he wasn't praying enough, talking to other AA's enough, not attending meetings enough, not reading spiritual literature enough, and not at all 'turning his will and his life" over to a higher power. The early AA's saw the problem of alcoholism as 'self will run riot' and the solution was to comprehend the idea of "thy will be done."
Sam Shoemaker, the Anglican priest helped the early AA members, not only letting them meet in his church but discussing God and a spiritual life with them. Father Dowling, a Catholic priest became a close confidante of Bill Wilson. Dr. Bob Smith the other cofounder of AA was an active member of the Oxford Group started by Frank Buchman, a Lutheran minister who had begun work with the YMCA. Emmett Fox, a theologian of the day who wrote the Sermon on the Mount was just one of the many writers whose ideas about God were discussed by early members . James, a favourite book in the Bible was so discussed by early AA's , that the organization almost became known as the "James Club".
As AA has spread around the world and time has passed AA's have looked to local and modern understandings of ancient ideas. There is no consensus on God in AA. All that is asked is that we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him. Throughout the Big Book there are adjectives that describes aspects of this God, 'loving' and 'higher power' being the foremost.
The program of AA is a spiritual program and alcoholism is considered a spiritual disease. Anxiety is said to be a measure of our distance from God though it's equally a fundamental aspect of our humanity. Whereas booze and drugs separated us from God and peace and love and other humans, the program of AA aims to restore the balance and bring us closer to God as we understand him.

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