January’s Step One was centered on the concept of getting HONEST.
In February with Step Two the focus was on the word HOPE.
Now in March the point of Step Three is FAITH. As it is written in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book Step Three reads: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
Creating a Step Three almost spelled the end of Alcoholic Anonymous before the program even had a name. After Bill Wilson penned the book, even coming up with a name for the book led to a debate. One essay on the publishing history of the Big Book recounts the internal debate over what to title the text: The Empty Glass, The Dry Life, The Way Out, and even One Hundred Men. Finally, the title Alcoholics Anonymous won out. Of special interest in the history of the book were the early and heated debates over the role of religion and spirituality in AA — co-author Bill Wilson’s decision to give this book a spiritual rather than explicitly religious character was a turning point that enabled AA to benefit people of all faiths and persuasions. Many at the time wanted the 3rd Step to read, “… over to the care of Jesus…” but Bill resisted. This spiritual component was so new and misunderstood in American culture in the nineteen thirties that in the American Medical Association’s review of the AA Big Book in 1939, they wrote that the book was a “curious combination of organized propaganda and religious exhortation” and went on to say that the AA Big Book was “in no sense a scientific book.” In 1958 that same AMA deemed Alcoholism a disease for the first time. I wonder how many folks didn’t get the help they needed between 1939 and 1958 because of AMA’s myopic view point? …interesting thought, but I digress.
I encourage all those who bristle at the God thing to become willing to be willing. I believe that if someone is in enough pain, no matter how repulsed they are about the God piece they just might be open to think of this as a concept laid out in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on Page 34 that says “Once unlocked by willingness, the door opens almost by itself…” Chapter Four of the Big Book is called “We Agnostics.” It was written to help those who struggle with the Higher Power piece to defuse their opposition to the God piece in order to not let that topic stop someone’s entrance into AA. Religious creeds are to be dealt with outside of AA. In Bill’s own story on Page 12 of the Big Book he writes “It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required.” This 3rd Step need not be your disqualifier from AA. We should never confuse religion and AA. It is the general lack of faith, not religion, which arrests our progress and procrastination that when combined with skepticism become the enemy of any spiritual attainment.
The most important element in our willingness is to “try.” Addicts of all types are closed off to change and the action of “try” only comes about from an initial decision. Most of the time when a newbie in the program reads Step Three they hear “debate” as they read the word decision. In the end, the AA treatment is to stop playing God and to surrender our own self-centeredness. Spiritual upheavals do not usually happen overnight, but they do start with a decision to just “try.” Feel free to contact me, just try. You too can have a new and better life, you just have to have Faith. Don’t leave before the miracle, and you are the miracle.