One of my favorite prayers is the Third Step Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous.
God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always.
Note that I’ve highlighted the second sentence because this simple request has completely transformed me from a fearful, addicted woman to the peaceful, happy person I am today.
So, let’s pick it apart, shall we?
RELIEVE ME OF THE BONDAGE OF SELF
What does the “bondage of self” look like? It’s the fear-driven self run amok, perpetually seeking love and security in all the wrong places. It wages a constant battle of self-sufficiency, all while crying, “I shall manage.” This “me, myself, and I” thinks it has everything handled, but it keeps failing, especially in relationships.
Faced with failure, it just keeps trying harder and harder to control people, places, and things. Such a mind suffers from the delusion that, if everything were different, it could finally be happy.
When in the grip of the bondage of self, we are often
- angry and judging
- dishonest (to ourselves and others)
- selfish and inconsiderate
- greedy for material and emotional security
- unable to take responsibility for our actions (often blaming others)
Many refer to this driving fear as the “ego” because it “eases God out.” In short, the ego’s bondage of self shuts out higher power’s love—but only until we wake up and ask God to change our perspective.
THAT I MAY BETTER DO THY WILL
So, what’s God’s will, anyway? I believe it’s to love God and one another. Unfortunately, when the ego’s in charge, we’re anything but loving. And we certainly aren’t peaceful—the one state in which our minds are most receptive to inspiration and generosity.
When we notice ourselves bound by worry, fear, condemnation, and anger, we can ask our higher power to take over our minds. For example, when reading the news, I often become scared about my own safety. If I’m clear and honest with myself, I admit that I’m disturbed, and then simply ask, “Help me to see this differently.”
Because our minds love to focus on the negative, I need to make this request quite often; but eventually, I find my body and mind at peace. As the bondage of fear is released, my spirit opens to giving and receiving loving care. As I join with others in growth and service, my life becomes joyous.
But, then something else will scare me, and I’ll feel the fearful self tightening its hold. When I tune in and notice that I’m tense, I can then ask to see things differently. I might say a prayer, meditate, call a trusted friend, or read inspiring lessons. Again, I’ll have to stick with it to recover my peace of mind and again trust spirit’s grace.
Perhaps the only error we make is in resisting the human experience by letting our ego scream “No!” to whatever we don’t like. But, over time, we relinquish our need for control by getting quiet and receiving healing, courage, and comfort.
The more we cultivate this conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves, the more we’re guided to the right attitudes and actions. And soon, we trust that, in spite of appearances, “All is well” in the realm of spirit. What a relief!
Gigi Langer has been sober 34 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Michigan with her husband, Peter and her cat, Murphy.