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Step Three: Trust the Process

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The spiritual principle behind Step Three is faith, and that word can be a struggle for agnostic or atheists since it is so often associated with religion. The definition of faith, however, is: “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” So, here I am in a 12-step fellowship, and on the third step of that process. I obviously have faith in this program, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing the actions suggested. So, here we are at Step Three.

As an agnostic, I don’t turn my will and life over to a perceived creator, so who do I turn it over to? For me, I turned my will and life over to my sponsor and the program in the beginning.

I saw what my sponsor had gained from working a program of recovery, I had faith that she could guide me to the same results, and I had faith in her experience. I hear many people have experiences of their sponsors relapsing, so I feel it is important to include faith in both the sponsor’s experience and in working a program of recovery for yourself. If one of those is missing, the results will often vary.

The phrase “trust the process” encompasses this step for me. In the beginning, the painful beginning, the results were slower to come than I would have liked. I found myself working steps, practicing principles in my life, and wondering when the “finish line” would come. I wondered when I would experience the “miracle” that everyone talked about or have the white light moment. It’s a funny thing, if you’re around someone every day you don’t notice their growth compared to if you don’t see them for a few months. I had been growing, changing and experiencing the miracle, but I didn’t notice it until one day I looked back and realized how drastically my life had changed – for the better.

After working a program of recovery and getting significant sobriety time under my belt, I added another thing to my list of faith: my sober, higher self. I now had undergone a psychic change from living the steps in my daily life and obtaining continuous sobriety. I made sound decisions, I knew right from wrong, and could act in a way that aligned with my values. Today, I still need the other two things, my sponsor and the fellowship of my choosing, but I no longer need advice for every decision I’m making. That being said, it is imperative for me to also remember the only thing I do have control over is my choices.

Step Three meant and continues to mean so much more to me than checking a box that says, “Yep, I turned my life over to the program, let’s move onto the next one.” Step Three is something I like to equate to meditation – it’s something that has to be practiced every day in order for my ability to strengthen. The second I start trying to control things outside of my choices, chaos erupts in my life. However, if I turn my will and life over to the fellowship (meaning, if I live my life in accordance to the spiritual principles of the program), then I create serenity in my life. I can always tell if I’m living this step appropriately by asking myself these questions:

Am I worried or anxious?

Am I being angry or judgmental?

Am I acting impulsively?

If I answer yes to any of these, I know that I need to buff up my Step Three work. The program works if you work it, so don’t lose hope if you catch yourself slipping.

  • Ashley Harms, MS, CAP, CRC

    Ashley is a primary therapist for Lakeview Health. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of North Florida in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, is a Certified Addiction Professional, and a Certified Recovery Coach. She has been working in the field of mental health and addiction since 2012. Ashley is also a person in long-term recovery; her sobriety date is January 13, 2012. She joined Lakeview Health in 2014 as the Aftercare Coordinator. Ashley has experience in working at both adult and adolescent inpatient treatment facilities. She enjoys inspiring other people to live sober, happy lives and to find their life’s meaning.

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