Another way of looking at the third step
We don’t think any two people in the A.A. program decide on an identical concept for a higher power. Most alcoholics have been off the grid for such a long time that everything must be recalibrated into a strategy that they can work with, whether or not anybody else understands it. Taking Step Three is deciding to abandon our failed ego–driven insanity. We find another source of principles and behaviors to replace them.
I get an uncomfortable feeling if it starts going religious
Some of us return to the religion of our youth. Others may struggle with that idea and settle for a more practical approach. We in Alcoholics Anonymous see success in a variety of different approaches when it comes to turning our will and our lives over to a power greater than ourselves. If it wasn’t this way, where would the agnostic and the atheist go to get relief from this terrible disease?
I get an uncomfortable feeling at a meeting when it starts going overly religious and I see a new member squirming in his seat. I was the one described in Step Two in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions who had “tried religion and found it wanting.” Had I not read that line, I may not have stayed with the program.
I wish I could tell you who or what … but I can’t
Having the option to decide on my own higher power opened up a new path for me. Page 34 in the Twelve and Twelve states, “This is the way to a Faith that works.” I simply combined that with the line on Page 27: “You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your higher power.” When I addressed it in that way, I had no problem moving on with the rest of the Twelve Steps. I am not driven away by anything that I’ve read in The Big Book or the Twelve and Twelve. I have not wanted a drink since I entered the program and the only answer I could come up with was the influence of A.A in my life.
Find these principles in most historical philosophies
For a guy who couldn’t conceive of a day without alcohol, to a guy who has never wanted a drink since: This was all I needed to know about God. I wish I could tell you who or what God is, but I can’t. I have researched things that I have heard concerning how the A.A. program came to be what it is today. The thing that had the most influence on me concerning this issue was The Sermon on the Mount by Emmet Fox, which heavily influenced the founders of A.A. regarding how to address spirituality and how to apply it.
The Grapevine article of Feb. 1996, “Emmet Fox and Alcoholics Anonymous,” explains these things. I have read that book upwards of 10 times and it defines and reinforces all the principles that we learn in A.A. When I pray, I simply ask God for guidance and for the strength to carry what comes to me as the answer that I seek. When I do it in that way, I become a better listener and the answers come to me eventually. I believe that I practice principles that are consistent with Christian teaching as well as any Christian I know but I don’t consider myself a Christian. I find these principles in most historical philosophies. I’ve studied Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, who lived 350 years before Christ, and they are not unlike the values of most religions.
As the result of all my studies, I have settled into a way of life based on unselfish principles and values that govern all my motives and actions. It has led to a life of meaningful purpose and a peace of mind that I never thought possible.