Published in 1939, it’s sold 20 million copies, been through 4 editions, distributed world-wide. TIME placed it on its list of 100 best and most influential books, the Library of Congress designated it as one of 88 books that “shaped America.” It’s wording and style of writing hasn’t been substantially changed since 1939. The stories have been edited some and some have been dropped but new ones always added. We speak of “writing style.” It was written by-and-large by Bill Wilson; he requested and received comments in mass from the early recovering alcoholics. Its strength is that it was written by alcoholics for alcoholics. Absent is fuzzy medical terminology and ambiguities.
The Twelve Steps were first published in the First Edition. Maybe apocryphal, but after a first or second draft, someone pointed out that the Book didn’t contain any quick summary of the Program, so, Bill dictated the Twelve Steps.
I read the Steps and marvel. It’s all there! Step by Step we rebuild our lives, refocus our attitudes, values and hopes for our well-being. We enter a deep personal and spiritual cleansing and embark on a life style absent from our ego (but always we claim progress in all matters, not perfection). Frankly, I find Bill’s Twelve Steps to be a statement of Christian precepts, much more to the point, simple to understand, and pointed in the right direction: that (at least “my” Higher Power) gives me the Grace to accept this Program and to seek that Power’s will for me for the future … His Will, not mine …” letting go and letting God.”
Careful study of the Steps readily shows the extent to which we are completely changing our lives:
- new values,
- spiritual-filled lives,
- seeking His Will for us and the power to carry it out,
- a constant review of our lives and processes to correct shortfalls,
- resetting of priorities,
- thinking first of “the other person,”
- in all matters seeking to do “the next right thing,”
- an abandonment of self-will and selfish mindsets,
- how we might speak through prayer with our Higher Power,
- and much, much more.
We take care to never underestimate the Program or take it for granted. Before, particularly in those instances of crisis, we grabbed a drink to calm ourselves.
Today, in those moments of panic we now pick from a variety of helpful options, or maybe we pick all of them - we “get to a meeting,” read the Big Book, call our sponsor, seek a quiet corner and meditate, drive to the nearest clubhouse, and look for a new person seeking release from alcohol’s bondage, work with our sponsees.
We find it all in the Big Book. Thanks heavens! Blessed be those who assembled its nuggets of wisdom.
Jim A., Covington, Kentucky