The Steps Step 3

Step 3

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God


How It Works

We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of 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!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him
- A.A. Big Book p.63

More about Step 3 in the Big Book


Comments from Web Sites and Publications

Step 3 is where I decide to trust God with my recovery. I have admitted my powerlessness to overcome my addictive behaviors on my own. I have realized that there is a Higher Power that can deliver me from the insanity of my addiction. Now I am ready to make the step of giving these matters over to this Higher Power, to God as I understand God. I trust that God can restore me to a right mind, a sane mind that leads me to sane and healthy behavior and a life filled with greater serenity, personal power and even joy. I let God be the overall manager of my life. I "let go and let God".
- From 12Step.org


Like all the remaining Steps, Step Three calls for affirmative action, for it is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked the entry of God - or, if you like a Higher Power - into our lives. Faith, to be sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail nothing. We can have faith, yet keep God out of our lives. Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by what specific means shall we be able to let Him in? Step Three represents our first attemp to do this. In fact, the effectiveness of the whole A.A. program will rest upon how well and how earnestly we have tried to come to "a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him".
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 40


But other people say "making a decision" to do something is only the first part of doing it. For example, if I make a decision to buy a house, I haven't bought the house yet, and I certainly can't move in this afternoon. There are a series of things I must do after making a decision to buy a house before I have actually bought it. I have to find a house, get a realtor, a lawyer, a banker, check taxes, check a certificate of title, and do all kinds of other things. Then finally, at the end of the process, I've bought the house, and I'm living in it. In taking Step Three, if you make a decision to turn your will and life over to God, you're deciding. You're committing to "buy the house". You're committed to turning your life and your will over to God. But you haven't completed the transaction when you say the words of commitment.

... I asked my sponsor, "If saying the words doesn't turn my will and my life over to God, how do I do it?" He smiled and said, "That's what Steps Four through Twelve are: the way to turn our whole lives - past, future, and present - over to God."
- A Hunger for Healing, p. 53


We found that all we needed to do was to try. When we gave our best effort to the Program, it worked for us as it has worked for countless others. The Third Step does not say, "We turned our will and our lives over to the care of God". It says, "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him". We made the decision; it was not made for us by the drugs, our families, a probation officer, judge, therapist or doctor. We made it. For the first time since that first high, we have made a decision for ourselves.
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 3


A common recovery phrase used in Twelve Step groups is "Turn it over." For the recovering person, that means turning over to God's care not only the major, conspicuous addictions like alcoholism. It means turning over every aspect of life, even the small frustration involved in handling children or trying to make a faulty appliance work or dealing with congested freeway traffic. In the face of these irritations, the recovering person will say time and time again, "Turn it over; turn it over; turn it over."

...Breaking out of this bondage of self does not mean we ignore or deny our needs. In fact, quite the reverse is true. If we can discover healthy, God-directed ways to meet our emotional and physical needs, then we become less needy, less selfish, less self-preoccupied individuals. This is another recovery paradox. Discovering what our needs are and asking to have those needs met may be one of the most unselfish things we do. All of us have needs, and all of us have choices as to how those needs are to be met. Addictions, compulsions, and codependencies are counterfeit means of trying to meet our basic physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers. With God's help we can find genuine ways of satisfying them.
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 34,35


Personal Experiences

In our forums, you can read about how others have worked step 3, or share your own experiences about working step 3. The audio section also has examples of people sharing about how step 3 worked for them.

To share your own experiences in the forums, you first need to sign up for free membership.