We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. - Matthew 5:24, The Message
“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.” - Booker T. Washington
Actions Speak Louder than Words
As we start to make our amends, we should make every attempt to offer ourselves to others in a sensitive and thoughtful way. We need to deeply consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Let us make the commitment to speak wholehearted words of grace and compassion. Where in the past we have shown disregard and selfishness, today let us reflect the image of God’s love. In recovery and making amends, it is our job to honor others and to give back to them what we have taken away. We should acknowledge to others that they never deserved to be treated the way we treated them. They deserved better. It is vitally important that we come right out and tell them that we want to make things right and that our restitution begins with a change in our attitude toward them, reflected by the way we interact with them in the future. Our message is simple: Today we see things differently. We are less important; God and other people are more important.
There may be times when we feel like people are out to get us. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. (We are, after all, not the only ones who are susceptible to resentment and who sometimes want revenge.) When we are willing to be open-minded about the attacks we perceive from others, it’s likely that we will see that these attacks were aimed at our addictive thinking, our selfish actions and our sin, not really at us. So, when we feel attacked, let’s do our best not to defend ourselves. If we have done something to warrant an attack from another person, we can apologize and ask what we can do to make things right. Then, above all else, let us change our actions. Actions really do speak louder than words.
Building healthier relationships with others requires that we address the ways that we have harmed ourselves, and as we begin to make amends to ourselves we will begin to create the necessary spiritual momentum that helps to move us forward in making amends to others. Many of us needed to make changes in our eating and exercise habits (or lack thereof). When we had hurt ourselves financially, we faced it and with the help of our sponsors and counselors, we made the changes that were necessary for us to begin developing financial integrity. When we had hurt ourselves emotionally, we talked it over with others. Sometimes we even wrote ourselves letters, addressing them to ourselves at specific ages from our childhood. Sometimes, sitting in front of a mirror, we privately read these letters to ourselves. We always read these letters to our sponsors, to our counselors and even to some of the people in our recovering fellowship. Following the example of others, we learned to give ourselves grace and understanding because we realize now that no one has it all together except for Jesus.
Recovery is not a straight line from Point A to Point Z. No matter how good or how bad things get, one thing is for sure: things are going to change.
Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer and The Men and Women of Operation Integrity
Chapter Nine Segment Five
Copyright David Zailer, 2008
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