Step Three and My Path of Least Resistance by Robert K.
This is the point where I was the most resistant. I didn’t
like anything about Step Three and I made no bones about it. Even though I had
come to believe in a Power greater than myself, I saw no need to give it a
name. Isn’t that what this was all about? How else could it be explained? First
you people called it a Power and now you’re calling it God. I felt like I’d
You got me in here. You gave me some confidence to look at
the worst of myself. You gave me your phone numbers and you took me to
meetings. I had even started to become friends with some of you. I had told
anyone that would listen how I felt about the concept of God. Had you just
agreed with me just to give me a false sense of security? I was hurt and angry
and I felt trapped. That’s when I was told to read the step again, just to make
sure I hadn’t rewritten it in my own head.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the
care of God as we understood Him. Nope, I hadn’t misread it. You people wanted
me to go to church and become a holy roller. I suppose now I was expected to
use Brother or Sister in front of everyone’s names too? Oh, I knew there was
something fishy about all of you with your laughing and smiling and eagerness
to help. Well, I wasn’t having any of it.
That was when I was asked, do you really believe that? Are
you sincerely that desperate for a drink that you’ll make up things that have
never been said? Well, if that’s the case, then have at it. There’s the door.
You’re more than welcome to come back when you’re done. If you can come back,
because many don’t survive. But if you think you can exert your will this time,
seeing as how it’s going to be completely different THIS time, we won’t stand
in your way.
This made no sense to me. First you wanted me to stay sober.
Now you’re telling me to go, nobody’s stopping me. This was like leaving a
loaded gun with a three year old to play with. What kind of crazy logic was
this? Why are you people telling me to go try drinking again? I can’t drink!
Whatever that thing is inside a person that allows them to drink one and stop,
well, I broke mine and I don’t know how to fix it! Exert my will? I have no
willpower when it comes to…and then it dawned on me.
Once again, the path of least resistance rose up before me
and I gave into the idea that I had to surrender. I had to admit to myself that
my life, run the way I saw fit, was a disaster. If I had inflicted upon someone
else what I put myself through, I would have been arrested for being abusive
and inhumane. I had forced all of my square pegs into every round hole I could
find. My philosophy that I lived by was ‘make it work and if that doesn’t work,
then force it.’
I felt myself resisting to the idea of surrendering. After
all, wasn’t surrender and giving up the same thing? I may have been a lot of
things, but I didn’t give up. That was pretty obvious to everyone that I had a
problem knowing when to walk away. Surrender was what I would do to get my step
father to stop beating me. Thankfully someone was there to pull me back on the
The first thing I had to write down was all of the things in
my life that I was trying to work by applying force. What did I think the
problem was? What did I think needed to be done about the situation? Did I have
anyone else’s wellbeing in mind? Was I prepared for any outcome, whether I
liked it or not? Was I prepared to take responsibility for the success or
failure of the outcome? Could I see where I was trying to exert my will over
the people involved in these situations?
As the caul was pulled away from my eyes, I started to
recognize where I had taken my insanity out into the world. Looking back at the
work I’d done on Step Two, I started to make the connections in how things
worked in the real world. My attempts to exert my will over people, places and
things had worn me down to the point that I didn’t know how to stop. My
philosophy of ‘make it work and if that doesn’t work, then force it’ had almost
driven me right over the edge.
But if my will brought about nothing, then what was some
invisible Power or God going to do? Sure, maybe it kept me alive, but it
couldn’t change everything that was wrong in my life. Hell, I was here. In
front of it and I had failed. Sure, I was tired, but I wasn’t a quitter. I had
done so much already, how could I quietly back away from all these fights?
That’s when my sponsor sat me down, unfolded a map of the United States
and put it in front of me. What’s this for, I asked. He just smiled and said,
let’s pretend we’re going to Seattle,
Washington. If I told you to find
a route there, which one would you choose? I thought about it for a minute and
said the quickest one. Along the way I wouldn’t mind seeing the Grand Canyon, he said. Is that going to be along the
fastest route, he asked. I had to admit that I didn’t know, but just looking at
the map I didn’t think so. What if we left Chicago
and on our way to Seattle,
we decided to try and get there by going through all 48 states. Would we take
the interstates or the smaller routes? Well, that is a roundabout, drawn out way
to go, don’t you think, I asked. Maybe, he said, but it may be the best way to
go. There’s no way of knowing.
By this point I was getting irritated because he wasn’t
usually so cagey. So what are you trying to tell me? So far, all I know is that
I don’t want to travel with you because you don’t know where you’re going. How
does this road map fit in with the concept of God’s will versus my will? He
smiled and told me that God’s will is for me to have the best that I could
possibly have. I just looked at him and said, Huh?
He put my paper and pen in front of me and told me to make a
list of five things I consider to be ‘the best’ when I tell people that I wish
only the best for them. First of all I couldn’t ever remember saying any such
nonsense to anyone and I told him so. Fine, he said, it still doesn’t change
what I told you to do. After I muttered a few choice names under my breath, I
sat down. About an hour I came back with my tiny list. Well, I guess the best
would be happiness, health, success, love, and peace of mind.
He smiled and said that God wanted the same things for me.
Wait a minute. Since my will is essentially me telling myself to do this, that
and the other, wouldn’t it bear to reason that God’s will is Him telling me to
this, that and the other, hopefully with better outcomes? On the surface, yes
it’s easy to see how you could come to that conclusion, he said. The problem
with this line of logic is that it takes all responsibility for my decisions
off of myself.
The act of turning my will and my life over does not mean
that I sit and wait for the messages to float down from Heaven on gossamer
feathers, as one member used to say. Pointing to the road map in front of me,
he explained that one of the greatest gifts I have been given in sobriety is
the gift of choice. The key to listening to God’s will is to ask myself when
I’m uncertain of what to choose is to ask three simple questions. Is it good?
Is it honest? Is it true?
I can only move from where I am. I can only see where I want
to go by reflecting on where I’ve been. I can look at all the different ways
that I take to get to where I want to go. I can only find the best path for
myself by asking, is it good, is it honest, is it true? As I go down that path,
I will continually be confronted with a new choice, born out of my previous
choice. All along the way, God’s will is simply that the best He could want for
me, happiness, health, success, love, and peace of mind are a part of the
outcome of my choices.
Hold on right there! I know there are plenty of people in
the program that I hear say it’s God’s will when they are beset with everything
from parking spaces to terminal illness. I hear it when someone dies
unexpectedly. I hear when someone wins the lottery. I hear it when a job or
relationship seemingly falls into their laps when they weren’t looking for it.
If those things are not God’s will, then what are they? He just smiled and
said, it’s life happening, most of it as a direct result of our choices.
God can no more give you cancer or a parking spot than He
can come down here and pat you on the back, he said. God does not crash
airplanes into mountains to teach people a lesson. God does not let the child
in a Third World country starve to death because she didn’t believe in Him. God
does not punish us for not being perfect. This idea of a God that will smite me
just for me being myself had haunted me for years. To hear this was like having
someone open the closet and show me that the lurking monster was actually just
an oversized winter coat that had gotten twisted up on the hanger.
I started to understand why I had to do the work I’d done. I
looked over my inventory that I’d taken when I admitted all the ways I was
powerless. I read the ways I had described how my life had been unmanageable. I
reminded myself of my skewed views on those Powers greater than myself. I read
over all the times I could have died and how I had somehow rationalized
everything so that it seemed perfectly sane to me. Now that I had stopped
fighting against the natural flow of my stream down the mountain, I had a
better understanding of God’s will and what it was to turn my will and my life
to His care.
If I was on the path of least resistance, surely I’d done
enough and could stop here, right?