Is or Isn’t

- April 27, 2023

Throughout the text of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous we find the words “must” and “suggest” used quite a bit. For our purposes here we will define must as something that is vital and has to be done. We will define suggest as a subtle command.
In Chapter 5, How It Works, it states “here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery.” Upon first reading of the steps, one may think they can pick and choose which steps they want to work. This is quite a big fallacy. The steps are meant to be taken in order, all of them and in a timely manner. Step 4 reminds us that we are on a life and death errand in taking the steps. The steps are in order from 1-12 as each step builds on the preceding step. If you are having trouble with a step, go back a step and see what you missed there. You will want to discuss this with your sponsor or a closed mouthed friend before going any farther.
After making sure you have a firm foundation in this previous step are you ready to continue on in the work. It may help to read the step aloud with another person. It can also be beneficial to go to step studies where a step is read and then discussed by the group. All of these things help to build a firm foundation upon which to take all 12 steps. For example, I can’t turn my will and life over to something I don’t know. Step 2 states that we came to believe in a power greater than ourselves which could restore us to sanity. Step 2 if you read it carefully, also has a requirement that we admit that our thoughts and actions have been insane. Insanity can be defined as “Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Surely our drinking career has many instances of insanity to admit to. With this step firmly in place we are able to move on to step 3. Step 3 is simply a decision; something you do in your head. One decides to allow a higher power or God to take our will and or life into its care and protection. This is another step the newcomer may think can be omitted from the work. Nothing could be further from the truth. The book states that step 3 is the cornerstone for the new and triumphant arch through which we will walk to freedom.
The word “made” crops up in the next few steps. This means to apply some sort of force or brain power to make something happen. We make decisions. We Make lists of all of are character defects to share with another person. We made a list of all persons to the best of our ability that we need to make an amends to. And we make direct amends to these persons as circumstances permit.
So, you see the 12 Step program is not a program of pick and choose. It is a precise and clear-cut set of directions on how to recover from alcoholism. This will come about if you take the steps in order and in depth as outlined in the Big Book. It works! It really does. Just ask any sober member and most likely they will confirm this.

Written by Phillip