Dear Surrender: A Modern Love Letter to the Third Step

By December 1, 2022August 23rd, 2023Modern Love Letters to the 12 Steps
the third step

This post is part of a series of modern love letters to the 12 Steps. To start at the very beginning, read To Whom We Owe Our Recovery: Modern Love Letters to the Twelve Steps.

In Step One we acknowledge our powerlessness over addiction. In Step Two we find hope of a cure in a loving, personal relationship with a Higher Power. 

But the Steps don’t leave us there, so close to the bottom of the stairway to heaven! This is just the beginning. Onward, dear friends, to Step Three, in which we recover the right to surrender.

Surrender is a Decision

Dear Step Three, you read as follows: 

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God”. 

Step Three, my friend, you are a daily practice. You are a relief, a perennial, a returning. A vow to renew and refresh every day. An orientation, a way of approaching life. 

Step Three, you are a voluntary decision, a free will choice. You are the determination that in any given matter, God will be the ultimate decider. 

My Life will be Directed by Source

Yes, that’s right. God, aka Source, Spirit, the Universe, Higher Power, All That Is, the Benevolent Heart of Creation, will decide. God is my authority, to whom I defer. 

Regardless of the wild chaos of desires, conflicts, pain, and confusion that may bloom inside my heartspace on any given day, through the cacophony, I will hold out for the clean clear tones of Your music.   

Healing the Power of Will

Step Three, you teach us to turn two things over to the Highest and Best within us. The first is our broken, ineffective willpower. 

Like dropping our willpower off at the emergency room of spirit, Step Three, with you we say Ok, God, I don’t know what to do to cure and fix this hurting, aching will. Please take it out of my hands, repair and restore it.

The second thing you teach us to turn over, dear Step Three, is our lives themselves. What they look like from the outside, and what they feel like from the inside.

Step Three and Manifestation

The word will is related to an older version of the word, equivalent to the meaning currently mapped to the word want. Our will represents our desire, what we’re after, what we’re trying to experience. And it is a predictive statement – declaring intentions for what our future will be.  

What does it mean when we acknowledge that addiction captivated our will? That our willpower was no longer free and clear from a negative, controlling influence? 

It means that the very machinery of manifestation, the way we out-pictured our lives, was in the hands of something that was not on our side. 

Addiction only ever serves itself, as everyone knows.

Surrender is a Practical Practice

When our will isn’t free, we are not successful at manifestation. Our will must be solidly, securely surrendered into the hands of our Highest Self, for it to work in a way that co-creates what we actually, deeply wish to experience in the out-there world. 

It follows naturally, therefore, Step Three, that we surrender also the results of our lives. Who we are, how we are, what other people think of us, what our work in the world will ultimately be, the highest path and purpose of us, how we embody and inhabit this earthly plane – all of this belongs to God, when we insist that it does. 

Step Three, thank you for assisting with this process, for helping to lay the groundwork of a deep and practical form of surrender, in which we rise each day to receive direction from that which is best within and around us. 

Taking Our Will Back during Times of Forgetting

Step Three, you know as well as I do that the call of self-will can come knocking on any given day. It is triggered any time I meet suffering, and my trust in God isn’t robust enough. 

When I go into that fear and doubt, that maybe there is no God, or maybe God is there but doesn’t care about me personally, or God doesn’t love me, (otherwise why all this pain?)… Another round on the wheel of samsara.

In these ways, Step Three, it is my weakness to map onto God those other authorities whom I met in my early childhood. I confuse Source with parents, teachers, bosses who at different stages in my life, seemed to have a superior understanding, control, and power to impact the circumstances of my life. 

Hence the need to decide, again and again. To remember who Source really is, which face of God I am choosing to serve and receive love from. I choose the unconditional, loving, wonderful Source, the deep Who, full of heart, heavenliness and power.

A Determination of How Life will Be

Step Three, you dispel the lie that all we can do is be alone and unloved, that our abuse patterns are all we can ask or hope for in this life. What makes that no longer true, anymore, is this instantaneous, daily, forever-now, always fresh decision. 

To say, what has come before will not once again come to pass, because this time, I will be with God, and my life will be the proof of that difference. 

Much love, 


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