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The third step of 12-step programs reads, "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a loving higher power as we understood that higher power."

This is another one that terrifies many people. Control issues are at the core of addiction, and here we are being asked to relinquish control of our lives? This is madness! Madness I tell you!

But this is the wrong perspective. First of all, we're not being asked to do anything; we're just finding out what has worked for other people. That's why the steps are written in the past tense and in the first person plural. Secondly, this is always and forever a partnership with whatever we think of as a higher power. The third step is where we get to start developing that relationship, finding out if we can trust it. We have free will; nobody can take away our agency in our lives.

The third step is great because it is the beginning of healing the trust issues that are generally inextricably linked with addiction, coming as it does from a history of abuse. And it is where we start learning to let go of all our obsessions and worries and control issues. Many people work this step by making a "god box" where they put requests to their higher power or where they can put the things they need to let go of. Some people do it by asking their higher power for guidance each day, or asking for small things along the way like a free parking space. Some just keep an eye out for what Flylady calls "god breezes" - coincidences and inspirations as messages from a higher power. It is a time of exploration and experimentation that leads to relief and freedom.

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