The Paradox of the Third Step
by David A-S (NYC)
The Third Step breaks up into two parts. The first part of the step, "made a decision" is a very simple and practical thing. The second part of the step asks us to "turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood Him". This is much more difficult thing to do and required me to do a lot of searching.
Before I came into program I found it very difficult to make any kind of decision. I would always wait till the last moment, wait till something or someone pushed me to do it. Even acting out was something I would get pushed into, not so much decide to do. I even felt that not deciding was much more noble but the reality was that it was very much a way of being left out of the process. Alternatively, if I did make any decision about anything it was absolute final and irreversible. My decision was my life and my God.
Since the first part of Step Three says "made a decision" I began to make all sorts of decisions. I got myself into lots of trouble, because I began to exercise my "right of decision". People were shocked that I was making decisions, they were used to me just going along with whatever everyone else decided. I liked the idea of having some say in my life all of a sudden. It really made me feel like I mattered. I began to take responsibility for my life. This was both exciting and frightening.
I still didn't know how to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. It seemed to me that the Third Step was a paradox. If I am alive and breathing then surely my life and will are in the care of God? However Step Three says that we made a decision, a conscious decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God. The ultimate goal of all the steps is to be conscious, and here in Step Three we are being asked to be conscious of our relationship with God. As I continued to make decisions I noticed that other people also made decisions about their lives. I found this quite bewildering at first and then realized that this was how others got on with their lives, by making decisions. I began to look further afield to understand the second part of the third Step.
Tradition Three told me that the only requirement for membership in SCA is the desire to stop having compulsive sex. This was a little difficult to accept at first. It meant I had to accept people on face value, not because they had passed my rigorous tests. This was really difficult, since it meant conceding to others the right to make decisions of their own. This was quite difficult to accept. I had grown up in a house where some people made the decisions and everyone else had to abide by and obey those decisions. Suddenly I was confronted with the revolutionary idea that everyone could make decisions and indeed had a right to do so.
I went even further afield trying to understand the implications of this step, and found that Concept Three, which says that "The right of decision makes effective leadership possible", suggests that not only is it everyone's right to make decisions but indeed it is everyone's obligation. As I read about Concept Three I just happened to glance at Concept Four. This contained an amazing idea, which totally turned my life around and helped me to fully understand the second part of Step Three. Concept Four says that "Participation is the key to harmony".
I found this idea totally repugnant at first but the more I thought about it and the more I allowed myself to participate, the more harmony I found in my life. Shortly after I read about Concept Four I went to a retreat in the country. One evening there was a dance, that I was completely disdainful of to begin with, but then I realized that this was the only gig in town so I decided to go with it, to participate fully. I had a wonderful time in spite of the fact that I didn't like the music and everything else. Participation was the key that lead me to harmony.
This then, I understood to be the way to turn my life over to the care of God. By putting myself in the mainstream, by accepting everything that came towards me and being willing to deal with it I am surrendering my life to the care of God. So when I turn my life over to God, and I am fully immersed in the stream of life and participating in it fully, I am fully immersed in my life and everything that it presents to me moment by moment. So that surrendering my will and my life to God, paradoxically, meant being more involved in my own life.
I recognized that there were many ways in which I chose not to participate in life. One of them was the use of pornography. So I had to give that up and begin to deal with real people and real situations in order to hand my will and my life over to God. This was not at all what I had expected would be the result of doing Step three, yet it definitely seemed to make me feel much more in touch with God. I realized that the things I wanted to do in my life were the things that God wanted for me too. This was really so overwhelming as a concept. Surrendering my life and will over to the care of God did not mean that I would lose my life as I had at first feared but rather it meant for the first time really and actually having my life fully and totally. This then, was the fulfillment of Step three.