The last two paragraphs of Chapter 11, “A Vision For You” in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, have always been my favorite passage in the book. For much of my sobriety, each time I read them (or heard them read), I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I was never quite sure why, but I always felt something very deeply on each occasion.
On May 26, 2016, I was living in New York City and was preparing to fly home to Texas the next day to visit my mother, who was battling cancer. That morning I sat down, pulled out my Big Book, went to page 164, and read the last 161 words again. As I read, I noticed some very explicit promises, prayers, actions, and warnings hiding in plain sight. I began writing down what I saw in the hope that what I found, might one day be able to help others working our program of action in the way it had helped me.
Over the next few months, I’m going to share Chapters of an e-book I released back in May 2020 titled, “The Last 161 Words (of the First 164 Pages)“ with you. If you are interested in reading the whole e-book, I have offered it for free on this website for anyone who would like to read it. It’s a short, quick, and easy read. It’s readable in two formats; 1.) FlipBook on the website, or 2.) Free PDF download at https://takethe12.org/library/
The original title of this book was intended to be “Reflections on A Vision For You”, but when I sat down and finally started fleshing it out, I felt I wanted to call it something a little less grandiose. One day, as I was reading the content from which this book was drawn, it hit me… “The last 161 words of the first 164 pages of the Big Book contains all Twelve of our Steps!” And so, it was.
………. CHAPTER 5 ……….
“But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
The Step Connection: Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: Here’s yet another Warning. There is no way I could ever hope to be of maximum service to God and His kids if I’m not willing to constantly be aware of where I still need to grow. I then need to promptly admit to both myself and to whoever else that I am wrong when I am wrong. I get to give it away only if I have IT to give away.
When I think of the number of times I’ve sat in meetings of A.A. and spewed forth whatever noise was in my head (that had no connection to a program of spiritual health) just because I wanted to look good, I become acutely aware of just how dangerous that can be to the newcomer who may be listening to me. If I don’t have it – I need to stop thinking I can give it away. This is just one example of the 100 forms of self-delusion that can be of great detriment to the suffering alcoholic who needs the truth if I don’t heed this warning.
………. CHAPTER 6 ……….
“See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.”
The Step Connection: Steps 2 & 6 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” and “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: Here’s a great Promise. I’m promised that great events will come to pass for me IF my relationship with God is right. When I came to believe that God could restore me to sanity (soundness of mind), it was in that moment I stopped believing “I” could restore me to sanity or “YOU” could restore me to sanity. As Bill shared in his Grapevine article, “The Next Frontier – Emotional Sobriety”… “If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands.”