Addiction Recovery Program - A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing
Step 3: Trust in God
KEY PRINCIPLE: Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Step 3 is the decision step. In the first two steps, we awakened to what we could not do for ourselves and what we needed God to do for us. Then in step 3 we were introduced to the only thing we could do for God. We could make a decision to open ourselves to Him and surrender our entire lives—past, present, and future—and our will about our lives to Him. Step 3 was an act of agency. It was the most important choice we ever made.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following statement about this most significant decision:
“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him” (“Insights from My Life,” Ensign, Aug. 2000, 9).
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve described his decision to yield his will to God and the freedom that decision gave him:
“Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him— without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, ‘I will do as you direct,’ is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more” (Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Dec. 7, 1971], 4).
When we took step 3, we faced the truth that recovery was far more the result of the Lord’s efforts than our own. He worked the miracle when we invited Him into our lives. Step 3 was a decision to allow God to recover and redeem us. It was a decision to allow Him to direct our lives, remembering, of course, that He always respects our agency. Thus, we decided to put our lives in His hands by continuing to follow this spiritually focused program of recovery.
When we first attended recovery meetings, we may have felt pressured or even forced by others to be there, but to take step 3 we had to decide to act for ourselves. We realized that changing our lives this much had to be our own decision. It wasn’t about what our parents did, what they were doing now, or what they wanted. Neither was it about what our spouses, families, or friends thought, felt, did, or did not do. We saw we had to be willing to stay clean and sober regardless of anyone else’s opinions or choices. Our willingness was the solid foundation on which the balance of recovery rested. As we read the Book of Mormon, we discovered a powerful validation of step 3 in Alma 5:13: “They humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God.”
When we took this step, we felt terrified of the unknown. What would happen if we humbled ourselves and surrendered our lives and wills completely to the care of God? For many of us, childhood had been very hard, and we were terrified of becoming as vulnerable as little children again. We were convinced by past experiences that making a definite commitment was nearly impossible, given the insanity surrounding us in this world. We had seen too many commitments broken. We had broken too many ourselves. The best some of us could do was try what our recovering friends had suggested: “Don’t use. Go to meetings. Ask for help.” Those who had walked the steps of recovery before us invited us to experiment with this new way of living. They patiently waited for us to become willing to open the door to God just a little bit.
The Lord extends the same invitation: “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
At first our efforts were anxious and halting. We kept giving the Lord our trust and then taking it back. We worried that He would be displeased at our inconsistency and withdraw His support and love from us. But He didn’t.
Gradually we allowed the Lord to demonstrate His healing power and the safety of following His way. Eventually each of us realized that we not only had to give up our addictions, but we also had to turn our entire will and life over to God. As we did so, we found Him patient and accepting of our faltering efforts to surrender to Him in all things.
Our ability to withstand temptation is now grounded in our continual submission to the will of the Lord. We express our need for the power available to us through the Savior’s Atonement, and we begin to feel that power within us, fortifying us against the next temptation. We have learned to accept life on the Lord’s terms.
As Elder Maxwell observed, this submission to the Lord is hard doctrine. It requires us to rededicate ourselves to His will at the start of each day and sometimes every hour or even from moment to moment. As we are willing to do so, we find the grace, or enabling power, to do what we could not do for ourselves.
Continued submission to God’s will reduces strife and brings more meaning to our lives. Small things like traffic jams are no longer cause for upset. We no longer fear our creditors. We accept responsibility for our actions. We accept and treat others as we would like to be treated, as the Savior would treat us all. Our eyes, our minds, and our hearts are finally open to the truth that mortality is challenging and that it will always have the potential to bring us sorrow and frustration as well as happiness.
Each new day we renew our submission to the Lord and His will. This is what most of us mean when we say, “One day at a time.” We have decided to let go of the self-will and self-seeking that were at the root of our addictions and enjoy another 24 hours of the serenity and strength that come from trusting in God and in His goodness, power, and love.
Attend sacrament meeting; review and renew baptismal covenants
Taking step 3 and trusting God in all things can be like putting on a new pair of glasses and seeing everything with new eyes. By making the decision to turn your will over to God, you will begin to experience the comfort and joy that come from seeking and doing Heavenly Father’s will.
Baptism and the sacrament symbolize your love for and surrender to Jesus Christ. You covenant to take His name upon you, to always remember Him, to follow Him and keep His commandments “that [you] may always have his Spirit to be with [you]” (Moroni 4:3; see also Moroni 5:2; D&C 20:77, 79).
Speak with your bishop or branch president about your addiction and your decision to follow the will of God. Do your best to attend sacrament meeting each week. As you worship, listen carefully to the sacrament prayers and consider the gifts that Heavenly Father offers you. Then renew your commitment to accept and follow His will for your life by partaking of the sacrament if your bishop or branch president gives you permission to do so.
As your recovery progresses, you will find yourself more willing to be among those who honor the sacrifice of the Savior. You will begin to experience the reality that “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Decide to trust and obey God; change what you can change; accept what you cannot change
These words—adapted from a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and known as the “Serenity Prayer”—can help you as you decide to trust and obey God, “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
You can accept with serenity the current reality of your condition when you trust in God’s ability to help you. You can accept with serenity that although you cannot control the choices and actions of others, you can decide how you will act in each situation you face.
You can decide with courage to trust your Father in Heaven and act according to His will. You can turn your will and life over to His care. You can decide to do what He asks and to keep His commandments.
You may not be able to change some things in your life, but you can change your willingness to trust in God and obey Him. As you learn to trust Him, you will see that His plan is for you to follow what Alma called the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8). You will learn that even in affliction and difficulty “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28) and keep His commandments (see also D&C 90:24; 98:3; 100:15; 105:40).
Study and Understanding
The following scriptures may help you in taking step 3. Use these scriptures and questions for meditation, study, and writing. Remember to be honest and specific in your writing.
In harmony with the will of God
“Reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved” (2 Nephi 10:24).
Consider what it means to live your life in harmony with the will of God. Think about how His enabling power can come into your life as you turn to Him. How do you feel about letting God direct your life?
What prevents you from allowing Him to direct your life?
Submitting to the will of God
“The burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).
The Lord could have removed the burdens of Alma and his people; instead, He strengthened them to bear “their burdens with ease.” Notice that they did not complain but submitted cheerfully and patiently to the will of the Lord. Write about the humility it takes to want immediate relief and yet be willing to have a burden lightened gradually.
What does it mean to submit to God? How do you submit?
How do you feel about submitting willingly and with patience to the Lord’s timetable of change?
How can you gain the courage to keep trying until you are free of your burdens?
Fasting and prayer
“They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35).
This verse describes a people who yielded their hearts to God. How can fasting strengthen your ability to yield your heart to God and abstain from addiction?
Consider the importance of praying in the moment of temptation, and write about how prayer will strengthen your humility and your faith in Christ.
How strong is your willingness to yield your heart to God instead of yielding to addiction in the moment of temptation?
Humbling yourself before God
“He did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him” (Mosiah 29:20).
What keeps you from “crying mightily” to God for deliverance according to His will?
What has kept you from seeking this kind of deliverance in the past?
In what ways can you learn to trust in God?
To humble yourself is a decision you make. Satan may try to get you to believe that although God helped others, He won’t help you because you are helpless and hopeless. Recognize this lie for what it is. In truth, you are a child of God. How can this knowledge help you humble yourself?
The choice to begin recovery
“I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).
Step 3 is a choice. Recovery happens by God’s power, but only after you choose to seek His help. Your decision opens the channels for His power to flow into your life. Consider how humility, patience, gentleness, and so on are all choices. The last quality listed in the scripture is gratitude. How does gratitude help you be humble?
What other qualities did Alma include in this list?
Which of these qualities do you lack?
Which ones can you work on today? What can you do now to start?
Becoming as a child
“The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
Many of us experienced unloving treatment from parents or guardians, and becoming “as a child” is challenging, maybe even terrifying. If you have unresolved problems with a parent, what can you do to separate your feelings about your parent from your feelings about God?
Although you may have problems to resolve with your earthly parents, you can have confidence in Heavenly Father and the Savior as perfect fathers. Why can you trust Heavenly Father and the Savior as you submit your life to Them?
Communing with God
“[Jesus] kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:41–42).
In this prayer, the Savior demonstrated His willingness to submit to the Father. He expressed His desires but then humbly did the will of His Father. Consider the blessing of being able to tell God your feelings. How does knowing that He understands your reluctance, your pain, or whatever you feel help you say, “Thy will be done,” and mean it?