When I walked into the rooms of A.A. and saw the Third Step on the wall – Made a decision to our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God, I immediately thought to myself, we have a big problem. You see, in my view God was part of the problem. It’s funny because all I saw in that whole sentence was the word God. I never saw any of the other words, including the most important of which was “as we understand God.” Exactly how was it that I understood God, or should I say I was taught to understand God?
What little understanding of God I had was very confusing. Growing up in a “Christian” home that was loving and kind to all those in the church and those outside of the home was one side of the coin. The way my mother ands stepfather were behind the closed doors of our home, emotionally, physically. spiritually and sexually abusing me all in the name of God, was the other side of the coin. So, what I was being taught inadvertently about who God is, my understanding of Him, was that he was an abusive, vigilant, unforgiving, cruel, raping, beating, and damning God. I had already done so much wrong by the time I was seventeen, or so I believed, I just knew my final resting spot was going to be burning in hell. So please don’t talk to me about God.
The first one hundred and sixty-four pages of the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous, in my opinion, could only have been written with a divine guidance. As I read it, page after page, I was reading about myself. I was awe struck by how much I saw myself on those pages. From Bills drinking escapades to how he brought us back to believe that God did indeed exist. The steps are brilliantly written in a way that makes it hard not to return to God. Step One – Admitting I was powerless over my addiction and my life was unmanageable – was easy for me. Then there is Step Two – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This is the step that led me back to believing in God. The one and only true God that Bill W. and Dr. Bob are talking about in the Big Book. According to recent accounts, the word “God” –considered together with pronouns and other Biblical descriptions referring to Him - - is used more than 400 times in each of the several additions of A.A.’s Big Book. There is absolutely no doubt that Dr. Bob and Bill W. were talking God or Yahweh.
Step Two is written in a way, I believe, that is meant to lead us back to believing that God is real and is the only source to our freedom. If you notice in Step Two, the “P” in the word “Power” is capitalized. In a theological point of view, the founders are stating that a Power greater than ourselves is indeed the one and only God or Yahweh in heaven. They are not talking about the present day, idolatrous Gods that are called lightbulbs, chairs, fans, doorknobs, trees, etc. These are all false God’s, which will ultimately fail you and lead you to your demise.
For myself, I never believed that any of these “false Gods” would or could do anything for me. However, it was things like the trees, mountains, stars in the night sky, sunrises and sunsets that made it hard not to believe there really was a loving God. It was Step Two that allowed me to question the God I had been taught about and led to believe existed. That God that I believed was cruel and vindictive. The God I believed had already condemned me to hell because I had already done so much wrong by the time I was seventeen, or so I believed. Step two is the step that allowed me to find my way back to God, to develop a strong, loving, kind and trusting relationship with God. The God of my understanding today is loving, kind, forgiving, compassionate, understanding, fun loving, funny, full of grace, and so much more.
Believe me when I tell you it was a journey with plenty of battles along the way to find the God of my understanding, which is the God I believe Dr. Bob and Bill W. are referring to. I believe the God of our understanding they are talking about is the type of God I am talking about above. That is the beauty of A.A., being allowed to discover God the way you understand Him to be. Nobody told me to believe in their God, or for that matter, told me how to do anything. Everything was suggested to me, including different ways to understand Him. When it came to God, I researched every religion. I looked at Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. When it came down to it for me, they all believed in the one and only God in heaven or Yahweh. In my view, their philosophies are all centered around the Ten- Commandments. Even with my new understanding of God, I was stuck. I was stuck because of one word, religion. I still tied my new understanding of God to religion. How could I move on? I was stuck on Step 3.
During this time of discovery, I spent a lot of time hiking a local trail called the “Bump and Grind,” affectionately known in the recovery world as “Magic Mountain.” On these hikes, I spent most of my time talking or arguing with God about all the questions I had for him. Questions like “Why did you allow my parents to divorce?” “Why did you take my father from me in death while I was only twelve years old?” “Why did you put a stepfather in my life that would abuse me?” “Why did you give me a mother that was so abusive?” Some of these questions were answered for me as we talked on my hikes. However, most of the answers came to me later in my journey when I was better able to understand and accept them. The one thing that became very clear to me is that God is not about religion, rather he is all about spirituality and relationship. I know this, I never wanted to drink again or live the way I was living. I had tried it my way for far too long. Now I needed Gods help, yet I couldn’t break the barriers I had built up regarding letting God in my life.
My breakthrough came at the end of one my hikes on Magic Mountain. The answers were all laid out right in front of me on page 62 of the Big Book of A.A. I had read this page many times yet had not seen it until this particular day. First “I” had to quit playing God and completely surrender to Him, yet I was unsure of exactly how to do it. At the bottom page 62 it says; Most ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of new and triumphant arch through which we passed into freedom.” I was reciting this at the end of my hike when it hit me. I was a mason by trade and the word “Keystone” was the key for me. You see, the keystone in an archway is the stone at the top and center of an archway. If this keystone is placed properly, an arch will never fail, it cannot collapse on itself. For proof of this just look at the ancient ruins in Greece, Rome or anywhere in the world. The only thing left standing is the archways. Therefore, the keystone of recovery is indeed God or Yahweh.
Many of us have tried to quit drinking or changing on our own with no success. We needed help. Some have tried looking to a tree, dog, fan, doorknob, and many other man-made Gods or idols. Yet none of these “false” Gods did anything for them. I’ve seen many an alcoholic relapse because they were relying on human power or a false God to help them. There are those that do not relapse, yet their lives remain in a state of confusion and chaos. For myself and many others who have turned our will and lives over to the care of God or Yahweh, we have remained sober and our lives have become better than we could have ever imagined. As Dr. Bob and Bill W. intended from the onset of A.A., nothing short of surrendering to the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit will keep us sober for the long run. Remember this; There is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!
For more about the truth about God in A.A. get the book:
The James Club & The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essential
Dick B, The James Club: The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc. 2005) pg. 195
 Dick B, The James Club: The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc. 2005) pg. 195