"We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
Step 3 of the 12 Steps
The first two steps in the 12-Step Program are all about self-reflection. The first step is an acknowledgment that you've lost control over your drug or alcohol use, and the second step brought you to the realization that only a power greater than yourself could restore you to sanity.
These initial steps serve to restore both hope for the future and faith in something beyond yourself, and they have likely led you to a much safer, happier, and more productive place than the one you were in before you started treatment.
Step 3 is where you first turn your attention outside of yourself into the world and begin taking definitive actions that will facilitate internal change. You'll find that each subsequent action-based step from this point forth will lead to significantly deeper self-realizations that will promote clarity of thinking and self-actualization and help pave the way for successful, long-term recovery.
Allah, Buddha, Love, Nature, Family: God is What Moves You
While "Alcoholics Anonymous" isn't a religion and doesn't subscribe to a particular theology or dogma, many people are turned off by its references to "God," particularly those who are agnostic or atheist.
The "Big Book" contains an appendix entitled, "Spiritual Experience," wherein it's explicitly stated that there's no need to have trouble with the spiritual aspect of the program, and that really, the only indispensable aspects of recovery are honesty, willingness, and open-mindedness.
A higher power needn't be a deity or a prophet, and it doesn't have to involve getting down on your knees and praying. It doesn't even have to be something that has a name, as long as you're open-minded to the possibility that there is a higher power.
Perhaps your higher power is the deeper, uncharted portions of your mind - your spirit, or soul, so to speak - that is far less limited in scope than your conscious, earthly self. Maybe your higher power is the unconditional love offered by your family, or maybe it's the idea of nature or the universe as a dynamic structure filled with things far beyond your understanding. However you define it, your higher power is something that, in the greater scheme of things, is wiser and more accepting of you than you are of yourself.
Turning it All Over to the Higher Power
Turning your will and your life over to "God as we understood him" means recognizing that the flesh, blood, and brain synapses that make you who you are don't carry the dynamic power needed to initiate changes in your perceptions of yourself, your addiction, and the myriad stories that comprise your life. The author of The Alternative 12 Steps defines Step 3 as the act of "taking charge of letting go."
It's the process of mindfully relaxing the death grip you have on the minutia of your current reality and allowing the constant chitchat in your brain subside so that a deeper, more compassionate voice can be heard.
Step 3 is the acknowledgment that there's more to you than you can know. Your main focus right now is on your current problems, but these problems account for only a sliver of your greater self. The act of turning yourself over to the forces that drive the spiritual part of you will let your indelible, deeper self shine through more clearly and allow the life lessons you're currently taking inventory of - and those in the nine Steps that follow - to resonate more meaningfully.