God’s Power—Embracing the 12 Steps

A set of twelve poems that were inspired by the life-changing 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In one of Jonathan’s rehabs, we, the parents, were required to memorize the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. As I memorized and meditated on these twelve steps, they brought me an unexplained serenity and renewed hope, which I didn’t understand at the time because I didn’t think they applied to me because I wasn’t trying to overcome an addiction.

Years later, on an early summer morning, these poems started flowing into my mind. I quickly grabbed a notebook and pen and started writing down the words as fast as they came to me. When I finished the last poem, I understood more fully how powerful and profound these twelve simple steps really are in helping all people, not just those trying to overcome an addiction, make permanent changes in their lives. These steps have taught me how to feel God’s power in my life, repent, leave the past behind, make amends to the people I have offended, and embrace a new life.

Jonathan attended many AA meetings during different periods of his life, and I attended a few with him. Over the years, he had several wonderful, caring sponsors and made many good friends. These poems have now become an expression of gratitude to all these influential AA friends who made such a difference in Jonathan’s life. I received permission from Alcoholics Anonymous to print the 12 Steps in this collection of poetry.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions— that our lives had become unmanageable.


How many times
have I tried so hard
to do it on my own?

How many times
have I cried all night
feeling all alone?

How many times
have I fallen down
losing all my friends?

How many times
have I given up—
powerless in the end?

I am powerless—
I can’t do it on my own.

I am powerless—
I feel all alone.

I am powerless—
I’m filled with pain and strife.

I am powerless—
I can’t manage my own life.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Restore Me to Sanity

Where are the answers?
Where can I turn?
Is there a Power
Who can help me to learn?

Is there a Power
Who understands?
Is there a Power
Who will take my hand?

Yes, there is a Power
Greater than I
Who restores me to sanity
If I can but try—

To believe on God’s words,
To feel of God’s love,
To recognize God
As the Power above.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

My Will & Life

There’s a choice I must make
At every new crossroad
For I have to choose a path
And decide which way I’ll go.

Am I going to do it my way
Or am I going to do it God’s?
Am I going to just keep falling
Or am I going to grasp the iron rod—

Which lifts me from the darkness
And leaves behind the night
As I turn my will and life to God
And come back into His Light.

There’s a choice I must make
At every new crossroad
But when I choose to follow God
I’ll know the way to go.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Moral Inventory

Do I know who I really am?
Do I know what I’m all about?
There’s a fear in looking in,
There’s a fear in finding out.

What if I don’t like me—
This person I’ve become.
Is there a way that I can change,
Or do I always have to run?

I’ve got to find the answers—
I’ve got to take the risk—
I’ve got to look inside myself
Even though it makes me sick.

For only in the searching
Will I ever really find
The answers to my questions
And gain real peace of mind.

Although my life’s been full of bad
There’s also been much good.
So, I shouldn’t be afraid to look
And change the things I should.

I must reach into my very soul—
It’s the only way I can
Face the truth of good and bad
And find out who I am.

Step 5: Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I’m Wrong

It’s awfully hard to admit
When I did something wrong
When I hurt someone and caused great pain
When I was weak instead of strong.

It’s awfully hard to admit
When I didn’t follow through
When I procrastinated one more time
When I didn’t do what I should do.

It’s awfully hard to admit
When I didn’t take the time to care
When I turned my head and looked away
When I refused a burden to bear.

It’s awfully hard to admit
When I was less than I could be
When I ignored the promptings from within
When I had no integrity.

But now I am most willing
To admit my wrong old ways
To face my God, to face myself,
To face my friends and say,

I’m sorry…I’m so sorry
For all the things I’ve done
I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.
I just wanted selfish fun.

I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.
I pushed you to the ground.
I’m sorry…I’m so sorry.
I know I let you down.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove our defects of character.

Defects of Character

I can’t change myself,
It’s true.
So my defects of character
I now give to You.

You have the Power
To ease all my pain
To remove all the dirt
Erase all my shame.

You have the power
To make my wrongs right
To calm my broken heart
To give me new sight.

You have the power
To cleanse me from sin
To bring peace to my soul
To now help me win.

You have the power
To heal me with grace
To lift all my burdens
To grant me the race.

So, take me by the hand
And lead me along.
With You by my side,
I know I’ll be strong.

I can’t change myself,
It’s true.
But I know I can change—
With You.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Remove my Shortcomings

Dear God
In true humility
I ask Thee now in prayer
To remove my many shortcomings
And keep me in Thy care.

Dear God
In true sincerity
I tell Thee I believe
In Thy eternal, matchless Power
And feel great peace in Thee.

Dear God
In true tranquility
Thou hast sent divine relief
With Thy quiet, soothing love
Which healed my pain and grief.

Dear God
In true dependency
I ask Thee now to fill
My mind with daily guidance
As I turn to Thee my will.

Dear God
In true humility
I ask Thee one more time
To remove my many shortcomings
And help me to be Thine.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.


Oh, the agony it causes me
When I think of the pain
Of the people I’ve hurt
Of the friendships I’ve strained.

But the burden is lifted
When I now make amends
And feel love again
With my family and friends.

I can’t change the past,
But the future’s brand new.
I want to be trusted,
I want to be true.

I’ve now made a list,
And I’m willing to face
All the people I’ve harmed
All the ones I’ve disgraced.

I’m not hiding any more
Behind guilt, lies, and shame.
I’m now making amends
And accepting the blame.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Forgive Me

I wish I could say I’m sorry,
But it would cause you too much pain
For I know your wounds are tender,
And I’m the one to blame.

So if I can’t speak to you right now,
I hope you’ll understand.
I know your grief is all my fault
And someday if I can—

I’ll ask you face to face
To forgive me of the past
When I offended you so much
Our friendship couldn’t last.

But right now it’s still too painful,
And we must go our separate ways.
But please know that deep within my heart
I wish that I could say:

Please forgive me…
It was all so wrong of me to do.
Please forgive me…
I’m praying now for you—

That God will bless and guide you
With His Power from above,
And let you know I’m sorry
As He heals you with His love.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Personal Inventory

It’s an ongoing journey
As I walk along
And take personal inventory
Of the right and the wrong—

That goes on in my life
Day by day;
But this is the message
I’d like to say:

I know I’m often wrong,
But I want to do things right
And the faster I admit I’m wrong,
The sooner comes the Light.

So, be patient with me,
And give me another chance.
My heart’s in the right place,
But I don’t know the dance.

But, if you’ll look at my face
You’ll see love in my eyes,
For I really am trying
To get rid of the lies.

So talk to me, dance with me,
Walk by my side.
I know I can make it
When I give up my pride.

Each time I say, “Sorry,”
Please know I’m sincere,
For I’m never going back
To my old pain and fear.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.

Contact with God

Prayer and meditation
Bring a spiritual rebirth
As I come in conscious contact
With the God of heaven and earth

Through prayer I come to know Him
He shows His will for me;
He gives me power to carry it out,
He helps me to be free.

Meaningful meditation
Will consistently be mine
As I seek this source of Power
That brings His light divine.

So I must make the time
For conscious contact every day,
For I know I’ll feel His presence
When I meditate and pray.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Spiritual Awakening

How can I tell you
All these feelings I feel?
How can I show you
I know it’s all real?

How can I tell you
I know it’s all true?
How can I tell you
It can change your life, too?

All I can do
Is let my light shine
And show by example
I know God’s divine.

He loves me; He nurtures me;
He carries me along.
He helps me; He tutors me;
He makes me so strong.

Now I must show you
This beautiful seed
Of spiritual awakening
He has planted in me.

God is real. He has healed me.
I must share this with you.
God is real. He is wonderful.
He can heal you now, too.