The Third Step in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is perhaps the most pivotal of all the steps. It marks the point at which the recovering alcoholic/addict lets go of their attempts to control their own redemption and surrenders to the intervention of their Higher Power. It states; “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” The underlying notion is that of someone who, after having hit rock bottom and having exhausted all efforts to save himself, stops the struggle and surrenders to the Universe and anyone whom it may send to offer assistance. This step follows on the heels of first acknowledging one’s “powerlessness” over their condition, and that Hope exists somewhere in the Universe for restoration.
Anyone who has been in recovery from addiction knows that it is not long after entering treatment that the Ego re-awakens and attempts to regain control. The humility and “sobriety” that came from the ravages of addiction begin to dissipate and old attitudes, assumptions and justifications re-emerge. At this point, Surrender becomes work. Of course, the whole idea is to address the Ego with its irrational beliefs and defense mechanisms (not to mention overthinking) and “let go”. As one might suspect, this becomes very tricky.
The terms “decision” and “will” found in Step 3 have to do with Volition or Intention. The concept of Free Will is based on the notion that mankind is endowed with the ability to exert his own intention over the course of his life and destiny. While this is partially true, it is not as clear and simple as many would like to believe. “Choice” is often confused with Will or Volition and Life is often reduced to a “set of choices” resulting in desirable or undesirable outcomes. Sorry for the cold shower, but it doesn’t quite work that way. If man were endowed with “free will”, why would he be asked to “turn it over” to the One Who gave it to him in the first place.
The greatest and perhaps the clearest depiction of the Will and emergence of the Ego is the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. The first couple were given clear instructions to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. However, after a protracted discussion with the serpent they both asserted their Will against the instruction of the Divine. The most notable aspect of this rendition is that Adam and Eve were surrounded by Positive Energy in the garden. Mankind can never place himself in a more positive, holy environment than that of the Garden of Eden in order to find restoration. In their innocence, Adam and Eve were not aware of the ramifications of their actions. This was not an exercise of choice, and the Ego cannot be blamed at this point. Eating the forbidden fruit was not an option. They did not “choose” between remaining in Positive Energy and propelling the entirety of creation into death, destruction and chaos. This was a sheer act of Volition on the part of the new arrivals to the Universe.
The Will is part of our very core… our essence. It is the part of us that makes us sovereign beings. It is our self-determination. The instant these two exercised their independent intention, they were propelled into a realm with which they were completely unfamiliar. Principles began to appear which had not been apparent before such as: Shame, Guilt and Fear. Something had changed. The innocent couple had opened a door. Evil had been introduced. They knew nothing of death, suffering or misery; now it would be a part of their daily existence. It was not a “punishment” to be kicked out of Eden; rather, it was the consequence of opening the portal to Negative Energy. No doubt the Divine Source had intended for man to know both Good and Evil but surely it had a better alternative. But of course, with great power comes great responsibility.
The issue is not about “choice”. There is no choice between Good and Evil. Wisdom or Ignorance does not produce a dilemma. Truth or Deception does not create a quandary. As a sovereign, independent being with “free will”, Freedom is THE choice, which, technically, is not a choice. In other words, in order to have and maintain Free Will, one must acknowledge one’s own Divinity and abide within the Principles and Boundaries of his divine nature in the same manner as Love, Truth, Wisdom, Peace, Joy, Justice and Freedom maintain their Harmony and Integrity. This isn’t about obedience to a higher authority or an external source as much as it is about Self-awareness, Self-determination and Self-preservation.
You have been created to be a Sovereign, Independent, Co-Creator of the Universe. That is both humbling and awesome at the same time. However, in order to be your awesome Creator-like Self, you must understand your origin of Positive Energy with its Principles of Love, Joy, Peace, Serenity, Freedom, Success, Victory, and Life and get back to where you belong! But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is about “making good choices”. It is about Surrender! In other words, it is about taking that marvelous “free will” of yours and lining it up with the Divine Source from whence you came. You don’t choose between Life and Death! Life is THE Choice! Yes, you are unique and special, but an apple tree doesn’t choose to produce pears or sweet potatoes. The only way for you to be truly happy and fulfilled is to BE YOU! Of course there are a myriad of obstacles that stand in the way of you being you, not the least of which is your own Ego. Align yourself with the Positive Principles of the Universe. Seek Peace, Wisdom, Truth and get rid of the baggage of Deception, Denial, Fear and the things that make you compromise, hide and diminish your True Self. Most of all, don’t forget Who You are, and don’t settle!