by Carla H.

How hard was Step Three for me? When my sponsor suggested I put God in the driver’s seat, instead of myself, I asked, “So I’m riding shotgun?”

“You’re not even in the car,” she smiled. “You’re outside, in back, pushing.” I can’t steer my own life? No thanks, I said silently. But I kept my mouth shut, listened to my sponsor and was willing to take her suggestions about the Third Step. Sigh.

With God in the driver’s seat and me doing the footwork, here was another example of my powerlessness (beyond Step One). I was at least willing to be willing. And it has worked out for me. Putting my Higher Power in the driver’s seat helps me let go, accept, turn anything over, and just be of service. I like the way the Third Step begins: “Made a decision…” which means we thought about it. Didn’t necessarily do it.

The small, still flame at the center of my being

So this part of Step Three feels like a little breather in the process of doing the work. I also like the end: “…as we understood Him.” Ah. A god of my understanding. And what exactly is my understanding of “God”? God is mysterious: by definition, a mystery isn’t knowable. What’s more, God is infinite: I truly don’t understand infinity. So even more mystery. And I can choose my own Higher Power—hooray! This makes A.A. enormously open and flexible, in my opinion. And a reason I keep coming back.


I chose my Higher Power at this point, at my sponsor’s suggestion. I read a lot of Greek mythology when I was a kid. Loved it. I knew the Greeks and Romans had lots of gods and goddesses, each of whom ruled over a certain area of life. Made sense to me then—and now. Images of these deities were mostly human, sometimes shape-shifting into animals, but mostly human. Sensible: a god would be wise to appear to mortals as one of us. We wouldn’t be afraid. Nice. Hence, Jesus. So my Higher Power has three aspects: Serena Williams; a golden retriever; a small, still flame at the center of my being. As my sponsor told me, “Your HP always has your back. Always. So give yourself an HP you can count on.” Mine looks like Serena. Strong, beautiful, skillful, strategic, hard-working, kind, and soft-spoken, she can take on anyone or anything that challenges me. She does for me what I cannot do for myself. She always has my back.

Images of these deities were mostly human, sometimes shape-shifting into animals

The golden retriever: Even though I’m not a dog person, I know golden retrievers are often service dogs. Since my only job in life is to be of service, a retriever can show me how it’s done. Years ago, I heard a dog expert say, “Dogs are the only animals who are perfectly happy to play second banana to a human.” I have much to learn from that: a happy second banana. Sounds like an aspect of humility to me.

A happy second banana

The small, still flame at the center of my being is a phrase that I heard someone share at a meeting. I resonated with it and thought, Oh, yes, that sounds like a relatable version of the burning bush in the Old Testament. That’s the image I use when I’m praying or if I am especially anxious about something. The minute I visualize a small, still flame at the center of my being, my breathing slows down
and I become calmer. Which makes it easier to put my HP in the driver’s seat.

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