Step 3: A “God” of Our Own Understanding
One of the biggest misconceptions about the fellowship of AA (and other Anonymous groups based on the 12 Steps) is that, to be a member, you must believe in a traditional, Judaeo-Christian God. This is absolutely not true. Many agnostics, athiests, humanists, and other self-described secularists have recovered from their addictions by working through the 12 Steps. They have done so by relying upon “higher powers” other than the stereotypical, monothiestic God of many religions.
So what qualifies something as a higher power upon which we can rely? Anything that allows us to stay present, surrender control, let go of egotism, and remain honest. Many members of AA place their faith in the Spirit of the Universe, Nature, Love, Truth, Good Will, or Gratitude. Some call their higher power “God,” but their actual conception of it is vastly different and unique to each individual. Many even rely on the collective power of AA as a whole (G.O.D. = “group of drunks”). Of course, members with religious beliefs may choose to turn their will over to the deity of their religion. Whatever the case, AA welcomes you into the fellowship no matter what conception of God you adopt.
If you are even slightly willing to relinquish control at Step 3, I encourage you to keep working through the steps. As noted in early AA literature, “big doors can swing on little hinges;” drastic changes may happen slowly at first. But if you find overthinking or debating the necessity of Step 3, I believe you are really just resisting change and failing to surrender. Talk to other members of AA about your hesitations, or consider joining a sober living community like Lakewood Recovery.
By Dana M.