We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV
“Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain."
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Moving Forward, Back into Relationship
We are going to make more and more amazing discoveries as we continue to make a list of the people we have harmed. One of these discoveries will be when we realize how incredible it is that there is anyone who loves us at all, considering the way that we have treated others in the past. However, at the same time, as we face the facts of our self-centeredness in more realistic ways, we will also learn that we have always been loved far more than we could ever understand, because of God and the love He has shown to us. Recognizing our depraved nature in contrast to God’s forgiving love enlightens us to a new way of thinking and operating. Fear becomes displaced by courage. Our relationships are affected for the better. We can positively relate with others today in ways that would have been impossible before because of our fear of being hurt and rejected. But, there is a new kind of power inside of us now. The life we live is no longer our own. God, through His love, has taken us over.
Following through with the change that is happening inside of us, we begin to treat people differently, respectfully. The first thing we must do to make amends to others is to stop hurting them. In the past we treated others the way they treated us, but now we will treat others the way God has treated us -- respectfully; whether they deserve it or not. What others do to us and how they treat us is much less important now. We hope that others will give us love and respect, but if not, we won’t need to get upset, retaliate or fall into self-pity anymore. Our desire is to simply love others with the same love that we have received from God and others. We don’t have to manufacture this love, we just pass it along. We share what we have been given. Thinking in this way helps us to set aside our fears of rejection; then we will be able to do for others what God, our sponsors and our counselors have done for us.
Motivated by the love we have discovered, coupled with the commitment to change the generational patterns that our families have developed, we set some boundaries for ourselves and we accept boundaries that others place on us. Then, we take these next steps forward. First, we became willing to make amends to those we hurt -- unconditionally. Second, we became willing to recognize and accept healthy limitations and to make “living amends” by the way that we relate to others in the future. Hopefully we have learned not to profess our “good intentions.” We don’t make promises, especially promises that we cannot guarantee. Instead, let us make good actions and let those actions speak for us.
If we ever refuse an opportunity to make a wrong right, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home that God is building within us. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out. Darkness begins to close in and we will miss the leading of God’s Spirit. Without the benefit of God’s Spirit leading us, we will inevitably create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.
So, let us take what we have learned and move it from our head to our heart and from our heart to our feet, where relationships are renewed step by step. With our feet of action placed firmly on God and a supportive recovery fellowship, we will find the stability that we need to make our lives, and the lives of others, change for the better.
Copyright David Zailer, 2008