Once we have admitted powerlessness, unmanageability, and insanity and accepted that some external force greater than ourselves has the ability to restore us to a stable state of mind, we are asked to give up our will and our lives to this higher power. This may seem like an overwhelming collection of requests, but when broken down and individually examined we find that steps one through three of Alcoholics Anonymous are simply setting the foundation of continued and maintainable sobriety through the acceptance of human fallibility and the comprehension of a true ability to recover. Acting on our own will has likely proven unproductive for us time and time again, seeing as addicts and alcoholics tend to lack impressive decision-making skills. But completely giving our will up to some spiritual force we may be entirely unsure of seems a bit dramatic. Right?
What Is Our Will and Why Should We Give It Up?
Will, in these specific terms, essentially refers to the power of choosing one’s own actions. Of course in agreeing to turn over our will we are not consenting to sit on the couch or lay in bed day in and day out, waiting for something to happen. We must still take action – giving up our will simply means going with the flow… allowing things to unfold the way they will without struggling desperately to alter situations or manipulate circumstances to fit our selfish desires and preferences. I personally like to compare giving my will over to a higher power with floating down a beautiful river on a handmade raft. I built the raft so I could float, but the water below me is bigger than me and more powerful than I, and will take me to whichever bank it chooses. My job is to lay back and enjoy the ride, trusting that the peaceful river will keep me safe and bring me to whichever bank I am meant to land upon. If I decide for whatever reason I want to land on a bank while the current is still bringing me further down the river, I can dip my arms and legs into the water and paddle and paddle, exhausting myself and potentially loosing the raft I have worked so hard to build. And even if I do finally get to the bank I have been struggling towards, I may be too physically exhausted to enjoy it – or I may (and will likely) find that this particular bank is not nearly as beautiful as I initially believed it to be, and will find myself wishing that I had stayed aboard my raft and let the river take me where it otherwise would have.
The Care of God As We Understood Him
One of the most beautiful and misunderstood aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous is that the program relies on unique and personal interpretations of spirituality, and makes no unanimous requirements concerning this. If you have difficulty with the concept of a higher power, you are not required to formulate any type of specific ideal… simply believing that someone else believes is good enough to start.