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 3 ……….
“Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.”
The Step Connection: 2nd 1⁄2 of Step 11 – “… praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the
power to carry that out.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: Here’s an Action. Each day as I wake up, I ask God to show me how I can be of maximum service to Him and to His kids in both thought and action. I believe that God’s will for me is to be of service to Him. You can bet if I’m being of service to God and His kids, I’m less apt to be of service to my spiritual illness. That is to say, to the noise that lives between my left ear and my right ear.
When I take the time to ask God to remove my pride and ego (which by the way is founded in fear—fear of not getting something I want, or fear of losing something I demand), it gives me the space to focus on what I can do in that moment for the one who may be suffering. Getting out of my head and considering the needs of others is one of the best ways I know to find myself at perfect peace and ease.
………. CHAPTER 4 ……….
“The answers will come, if your own house is in order.”
The Step Connection: Step 4 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Promises, Prayers, Actions, and Warnings: This is both a Promise and a Warning. Bill promises me that I’ll be given the answers if I clean up my own side of the street. I can’t know what needs to be in order in my own house if I’m unwilling to take stock of my liabilities and identify those character defects that have so often led me to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.
The Warning here is implicit. It’s pretty clear what I will receive IF I do my own house cleaning – the answers. If I choose not to take stock of the flaws in my character, I won’t get the clarity I so deeply desire. I’ve spent a lifetime spinning my wheels, complaining about the continued insanity in my life prior to coming to the rooms – never once doing a thorough inventory of my assets and liabilities. Who knew that when I humbly asked God to remove the liabilities I was holding onto, it would make space for more assets?