Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Steps: Making Difficult Amends

Anyone who’s been exposed to or has completed the twelve steps knows a very significant and lasting spiritual journey toward healing and wholeness, both for themselves and others affected by that person. Each step is a process of journeying all its own, and some steps we may never fully complete.

The Steps take a wreck of a life and carry that life through a process of surrendering to God and repentance from past sins, toward a useful life of peace and ongoing reconciliation to all things and people.

Steps eight and nine are about making an exhaustive list of those we’ve harmed and then making amends to all these people, unless it would injure them. These are steps of honesty and courage.

Step eight says, “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” Step nine says, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”[1]

For addicts and alcoholics there invariably has been a swath of relational damage caused, so these steps are important in reconciling part of the journey back through to recovery.

There are some amends we might not be able to make for many reasons; not the least of which, sometimes the other party is not ready and may indeed never be ready--to make amends could surely injure that person and/or others. The safety and security of others is always paramount.

It doesn’t get easier to make amends, but with honesty, courage and humility it can be achieved. The benefits are peace with all people and the end of isolation, and certainly peace of mind. Steps eight and nine are the platform to the ‘maintenance steps,’ ten to twelve.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Alcoholics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, (New York: AA World Services, Inc., 1996), p. 77-87.

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