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V Broaden and Deepen Your Understanding of the Twelve Steps
2) Step Two
Broaden and deepen your understanding of Step Two.


“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

1. In the 12 & 12, please turn to p.25, the first page of Step Two. In the middle of the first paragraph, starting at the end of the fifth line, it says:

“Having reduced us to a state of absolute helplessness, you now declare that none but a Higher Power can remove our obsession.”

2. One of R.A.'s members shares how she was obsessed with how, when, and where she was going to hurt herself or others. Then she came into program and switched obsessions. She became obsessed with how, when, and where she DIDN’T  hurt herself or others. What was the difference? For her there wasn’t any. She still had the same disease.

3. We just read on p.25, that the purpose of the program is to “…remove our obsession.” Not switch it.

4. In the 12 & 12, on p.26, in the third full paragraph, starting in the middle of the fourth line, it says:

“First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions. Second, to get sober and to stay sober, you don’t have to swallow all of Step Two right now. Looking back, I find that I took it piecemeal myself. Third, all you really need is a truly open mind.”

5. Many people say that they don’t understand God, they don’t accept God, God isn’t there for them. To begin to take this step, a belief in God is not necessary. This program, works for the atheist, for the agnostic, for anybody of any belief, or lack of belief.

6. To begin our recovery, we don’t need to believe in anything. We only need to keep an open mind. The Second Step can be taken piecemeal.

7. In the 12 & 12, in the middle of p.68, it says:

“Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission we were powerless over alcohol, can be practiced with absolute perfection. The remaining eleven Steps state perfect ideals. They are goals toward which we look, and the measuring sticks by which we estimate our progress.”

8. When we recognize that, we realize that all we really need is a truly open mind, and this step, like all the remaining steps, does not have to be taken perfectly.

9. Even without a belief in God, even without a belief that the program works, we can, and should, move on and go through the rest of steps. We don’t have to constantly go backward and re-do them. This program is not designed that way. We are doing Steps One, Two and Three when we start working the Eleventh Step on a daily basis. We continue Steps Four through Nine on a daily basis when we start working the Tenth Step.

10. We take Steps One through Nine once, to the best of our ability, and put them aside. Then we live in the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Steps, which are designed to make up for any deficiencies that may have been there when we took the preceding nine.

11. Saying that, “I can’t go ahead with these steps because I don’t have spirituality,” or “I don’t have sobriety,” or “I don’t have abstinence,” is like saying, “I’m not going to the doctor until AFTER I’m all better.” The sobriety, the serenity, and the spiritual awakening are the RESULTS of these Twelve Steps.

12. In the 12 & 12, on p.27, the second paragraph says:

“Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A. showed results, prodigious results. I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It wasn’t A.A. that had the closed mind, it was me. The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can’t say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.’s program as enthusiastically as I could.”

13. This is saying that you don’t even need a belief in God or a Higher Power to proceed with the program. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to move on.

14. This Step can, and does, very gradually and gently begin to infiltrate our lives, even without our accepting it entirely. Bill didn't get faith by working harder at it. All he needed to do was to stop fighting and continue to practice the rest of the steps, as enthusiastically as he could. We get results from them, and learn to have faith in them, by working at them.

15. The First Step is the only step that we CAN eventually take absolutely. It means we make a total surrender. We admit COMPLETE defeat. But the First Step and each of the other steps can be taken piecemeal.

16. In the 12 & 12, on p.27, in the bottom paragraph, the second sentence says:

“I must quickly assure you that A.A.’s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith.”

Skipping a couple of sentences, it says:

“You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your ‘higher power.’ Here’s a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough.”

17. Trying to have faith in a group is sometimes a problem. Some of us may have walked into a meeting where someone got up and said something like this: “I’m happy. I’ve been in program for 12 years and I have some serenity and it takes as long as it takes and I keep coming back. And, by the way, I didn’t do it good enough the other 42 times, but now I’m going to do it right.”

18. That doesn’t encourage people to have faith in the program. Most people don’t want a program that’s going to give them 42 failures.

19. In the 12 & 12, on p.39, starting with the last sentence on the page, it says:

“More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining Steps of the A.A. program come in. Nothing short of continuous action upon these as a way of life can bring the much desired result.”

20. If we’re willing to do what this program says to do, we can get the results that this program promises. The result of working these steps is that we no longer hurt others or ourselves. That is nothing less than a miracle.

21. In R.A.'s experience, the reason some of us didn’t get these results is not because there was anything wrong with the program. It was because we were not working THIS program.

22. The program that’s detailed in the Big Book and 12 & 12 describes having the obsession REMOVED, describes being RECOVERED, describes a PERMANENT RECOVERY, and having sanity RESTORED. This is what the Second Step is about.

23. In the 12 & 12, on p.28, in the first line on the page, it says:

“Relieved of the alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God.”

24. Many of us had a problem because of the discrepancy between what some of us had perceived as the program, and what the books ACTUALLY detail as the program of recovery.

25. One of R.A.'s members shares an incident that accents this problem:

The first time I became aware of this discrepancy was after I read the Second Step in the 12 & 12. The next day, I went into a discussion meeting and sat as part of a circle of about twenty people. I shared, in all innocence, that I hoped that some day I could have what the Second Step promised—that God could restore me to sanity and relieve my obsession.

All of the fifteen people who shared after me said they did not believe this could ever happen. They believed that they were never going to be restored to sanity. They believed that some days might be easier than others, but that they were always going to have this disease, always going to be sick. They were never going to be free of the obsession. They were always going to be insane. They could never be recovered.

As I walked out of that meeting, two thoughts went through my mind: first that maybe I had read the Second Step wrong, and second that if I had read it wrong, what was I doing there! Why would I want to be part of a program that was telling me that I was going to be as sick when I finished as when I started!!! So I went home and reread the Second Step. Sure enough, it did say that I would come to believe that a Power greater than myself not only COULD restore me to sanity, but would also REMOVE my obsession.

26. In the 12 & 12, on p.31, the last full paragraph, says:

“When we encountered A.A., the fallacy of our defiance was revealed. At no time had we asked what God’s will was for us; instead we had been telling Him what it ought to be. No man, we saw, could believe in God and defy Him, too. Belief meant reliance, not defiance.”

27. One of R.A.'s members shares:

I finally recognized that I couldn’t expect to have my obsession removed while I kept telling God how to do it. How could I tell God what my life should be like and then expect God to carry out my good orderly directions?

I finally recognized that it doesn’t work that way. It isn’t that type of arrangement. I needed to stop being defiant. I needed to stop telling God what to do, and how and when to do it. Instead I had to attempt to rely on what God was ALREADY doing for me, and then trust that as being right.

28. Continuing on in the 12 & 12, on p.32, in the last full paragraph, starting with the tenth line from the bottom, on p.33, in the top paragraph, the seventh line from the top), it says:

“The fact was we really hadn’t cleaned house so that the grace of God could enter us and expel the obsession. In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other human being without any demand for reward. We had not even prayed rightly. We had always said, ‘Grant me my wishes’ instead of ‘Thy will be done.’ The love of God and man we understood not at all. Therefore we remained self-deceived, and so incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity.”

29. We need to recognize that what we had been doing up to that point (for example, our swearing off, our arrangements for the day, our commitments), were our way of saying, “God, grant me my wishes. This is the way I want to be, this is what I want to do, this is how I want to do it—give me the power to carry out my will.” Praying “Grant me my wishes” does not work. Praying “Thy will be done” does work.


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