In Step Three we turn our lives over to something that is bigger than us–something that we don’t control. For some of us that might be a pretty traditional god—an anthropomorphized “He”, and for others the Higher Power is an “it” or an idea. The central idea of the Third Step is that as we surrender to this bigger being or concept, we remove our hands and we take a leap of faith.
In “Out of the Woods” I write about how our spiritual lives develop over the course of our recovery and the ways that what works for us can change.
I describe how I have found that taking the Third Step can come and go. When it becomes hard for me again– and for me Step Three is always an “again” process– I like to get out my copy of the movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” starring Harrison Ford and I cue it up to watch the final twenty minutes of the film.
You may remember how near the end of the movie, when Harrison Ford as “Indiana Jones” is nearly at the place of the Holy Grail he faces a wide crevasse that is impossible to jump across. The cave of the Holy Grail is on the other side of the wide, precipitous gulf and Jones has to get across to save Sean Connery, who plays Ford’s father.
Ford/Indiana stands on the edge of the great crevasse and he looks completely stricken. He looks across, and then he looks down. To step out into this vast nothingness is certain death.
And then—and this is the part that I love–he says, “Oh shit” and then he steps into pure emptiness. As Ford prepares to drop through space the invisible bridge appears under his foot.
Step Three is always inspiring after the bridge appears. But it is also typically an “Oh shit” moment just before that happens.
I need lots of reminders about the Third Step and surrender. In “Out of the Woods” I write about how you figure out your “right” number of meetings in long-term recovery. I find that I need plenty of repetition. There are some recovery insights that seem so brilliant and obvious that I’m sure, “I’ll never forget that!” Those turn out to be the very things that I have to hear –and experience–again and again.
One of the ways that I remind myself is with a little card I keep on my desk that says, “I made a Decision—not a feeling—to turn my will and my life over to God.” That helps me to remember that I don’t have to feel good when I surrender. If a good feeling is meant to be it will appear like Indiana Jones’ bridge—after I step into the void.