Thy will, not mine, be done. That is the essence of the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous. While I have found that all of the steps are hard, I think that the third step was, and continues to be, the hardest for me. By the time I got to the program, I knew without a doubt, that doing things my way wasn’t working. So when I got to step three, I was thrilled at the thought of letting someone else be in control. In theory, it seems so easy, just give it to God. In practice, however, I have found that that isn’t the case. I don’t know if it is alcoholic behavior, or just simply human nature, to want to be in control of everything. I guess it’s probably both. Which means that we alcoholics are faced with a sort of double whammy.
It used to be that everything I let go of, I let go of out of sheer desperation, not out of willingness. I fought tooth and nail to control everything. I have gotten better. I am now able and willing to turn things over to God. The problem for me is, nearly every time, I take it right back! And that starts a cycle of giving it up, then taking it back, then giving it up…
When I was in rehab, both times, we did an exercise designed to teach us that trying to carry past hurts and resentments on our own was burdensome and it didn’t make them go away. We were asked to go outside, pick a rock from the rock pile, and decorate it according to whatever it was that we were dwelling on. It seemed a little juvenile and silly, but we did what we were told. What we didn’t know at the beginning was that we were going to have to carry that rock around for the next three days. We had to have it with us at all times – in bed at night, in the shower, on our meal trays. When we got tired of, or irritated with, our rock, we were supposed to reflect on the things that we were trying to control on our own. At the end of those three days, we finally got to lay down our rocks. At the same time, we prayed that God would relieve us of our burden, whatever it was. As I put my rock down, I felt such a sense of peace. It was actually a really emotional moment for me. I was giving up something that I had been carrying for so long, I didn’t know who I would be without it. Of course, I did pick it up again, metaphorically. But that sense of peace that I felt, however fleeting, impacted me. I made a decision, then and there, that that was what I wanted. Peace.
What I have learned since then (and yes, I have done this exercise on my own at home), is that the sense of peace that I feel when I lay down my rock doesn’t have to be fleeting. When I am really able to give it to God, and not take it back, that peace can last, and I can heal.
Thy will, not mine, be done. I will forever be thankful to not have to be in control. But, if you ever see me, I may just have a rock in my pocket. 🙂