When I arrived, trembling and terrified, at my first meeting, I thought I no longer believed in anything. What a miracle that, after one talk with my sponsor and one meeting, I could have hope in A.A.! This hope kept me coming to meetings and gradually grew into a true belief that A.A. had all the answers for me, that, if I would be willing and try, I could stay sober—one day at a time. However, I found that this involved the effort to practice the program.
Once my belief in A.A. had been established, it became apparent that all Twelve Steps were important to my continuing sobriety. But I was stymied on the Third Step, with its reference to “the care of God.” So I went around it, knowing I must return to it, and tackled the Fourth Step. Slowly and painfully, I became aware of myself. I began to see it wasn’t true that I didn’t believe in anything. Rather, I had believed in the wrong things: I had believed I needed a drink for confidence. I had believed I was unattractive. I had believed I was unworthy. I had believed no one loved me. I had believed I never had a break.
Someone said at a closed meeting, “There is good in all of us. Seek it out, nurture it, tend it, and it will flourish.” So I began searching for the positives within me. I realized that my feeling of inferiority was just one aspect of ego, and the arrogance I projected was the other. I must find the center median. So I tried to act as if: A.A. was giving me confidence. I had an attractive personality, even though I was not beautiful. I was worthy, like all others. I loved myself and could therefore love others. Faith was freeing me from the fear that had always gripped me.
Now I believed, at least, that I could become whole with the tools of the A.A. program: pursuing the Steps, reading A.A. literature, asking questions at closed meetings, latching on to older A.A.’s who had that mysterious quality of serenity. I discovered that all those whom I emulated and admired had put the Third Step into their lives. I knew I wanted to do likewise.
This necessitated my finding a God of my understanding, plus a willingness to let go. I realized that I must say, “Thy will be done.” But who or what was this “Thy” to me? I began to go back, to review. What had I come to believe? I had come to believe in the A.A. program. I had come to believe that a power (A.A.) greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I had come to believe that I no longer needed a drink. I had come to believe that I could grow to be a whole person. I had come to believe that faith could eliminate fear. I had come to believe that I could love myself and so love others. I had come to believe that love was the key.
With an open heart, I returned to the Third Step and turned my will and my life over to the care of the God of my understanding.
These articles are reprinted pursuant to section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976. Hard copies of Living Sober can be purchased from the Alcoholics Anonymous website.