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 7 ……….
“Abandon yourself to God, as you understand God.”
The Step Connection: Step 3 – “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: Here’s another Action. I don’t know about you, but I totally understand the concept of abandoning myself to something – to alcohol. I gave my life over to it like it was my God. In the same manner and with the same ease, I’m asked to simply abandon myself to a Power that continues to prove itself to be greater than I am. That’s an action that has gifted me more dividends than I could’ve ever dreamed of or hoped for.
A decision is nothing more than a resolution reached after careful consideration. Considering the life I led before coming to the rooms of A.A., making a decision to let go of the reigns and let God take control was a breath of fresh air. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief through the simple act of surrender.
………. CHAPTER 8 ……….
“Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows.”
The Step Connection: Steps 1 & 5 “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” and “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: More Action. Do I want to admit my faults to God and to my fellows? I don’t think so! I don’t even want to admit them to myself, much less to anyone else. But yet, I am willing to go to any lengths today to relieve myself of this seemingly hopeless state of mind & body – this “ism”. I heard recently that it’s not alcoholwasm, it’s alcoholism.
Admitting my powerlessness over ___(fill in the blank)___ was not an exciting prospect for me. Yet, all I had to do was look at the life I’d built to see just how unmanageable it really was. Learning what true honesty was in Step 1, and admitting to myself that I simply couldn’t run my own life, certainly helped me become willing to admit my wrongs to God and another human being in Step 5.