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Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Basic Text Broken Down – Part Six

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It was founded in July of 1953, just celebrated its sixty-first anniversary, and boasts over 60,000 meetings worldwide.

NA’s central literature is the Basic Text. With a sponsor, the Basic Text, and a workbook, NA members work the twelve steps. Through working these steps, NA members learn that “Just for today, you never have to use again!” (xxiii)

NA Basic Text

Today, we’re going to examine the Step Three section of “How It Works.”

Step Three

Step three is “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him” (p. 25)

Putting aside the fact that having a male pronoun for God is sexist, that’s a profound sentence! This simple step completely encapsulates the rest of the program.

It sounds kind of hokey though, right? Why do I need to turn my will and life over to God? Can’t I just go to meetings and be okay? Well, I’d been turning my will and life over long before I entered recovery.

This section opens by stating, “As addicts, we turned our will and our lives over many times to a destructive power. Our will and our lives were controlled by drugs” (p. 25).

My mind was blown the first time I read that sentence! In active addiction, drugs were my Higher Power. Accepting that fact made it easier to begin to have faith in a spiritual Higher Power. It also made me understand the need for turning my life and will over to that Higher Power.

The section goes on to say, “We don’t have to be religious…” and “The right to a God of your own understanding is total and without any catches” (p. 25).

Again, these ideas blew my mind. I was free to pick any sort of Higher Power that made sense to me! I didn’t have to subscribe to any religious principals, although those may help some. I didn’t have to have a specific belief. I simply had to believe!

And I did. I believed the twelve-steps would change me. That was enough to start. That was enough to offer me the chance at a life beyond my wildest dreams!

After we’re convinced that God is worth seeking, that we should turn our will and lives over, how exactly do we? It sounds kind of vague, right? Well, lucky for us addicts, NA explains in detail how to work step three.

One way is explained as – “We simply realize there is a force of spiritual growth that can help us become more tolerant, patient, and useful in helping others” (p. 26). Simple enough!

This section then lays out the third step prayer. “Many of us have said, ‘Take my will and my life. Guide me in my recovery. Show me how to live’” (p. 26).

This is the prayer many addicts say with their sponsor. This is the prayer many addicts say every morning. This is the prayer many addicts say, time and time again, when in emotional turmoil.

After saying the prayer, we need to live on spiritual principals. NA breaks this down, too! “Most of us feel open-mindedness, willingness and surrender are the keys to this step” (pp. 26-27). That’s simple, but not easy. It’s a lifelong process incorporating spiritual principals in our actions. The good news is that we begin to get results as soon as we start!

Another way of working the third step is to simply complete the rest of the steps. After all, by going through the steps, we turn our will and life over to God. Of course, this requires action!

The Basic Text says, “The word decision implies action” and “The proof of this step is shown in the way we live” (pp. 26-27).

Okay, makes sense to me. A decision is just a decision, but a decision coupled with action? That’s life changing and life affirming. That allows spiritual principals to shine through us. That allows women to heal.

In fact, this section of How It Works echoes this statement. It says, “We are no longer fighting fear, anger, guilt self-pity or depression” (p. 27). That’s the kind of life I want to live. Guess what? Through working the steps, that’s the kind of life I do live.

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