ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
In making my amends, I made every effort to speak thoughtfully to those I had hurt. I put them above myself, and tried to speak wholeheartedly with respect and reverence. Where I had shown disregard and selfishness before, I now tried to reflect the image of God’s love. I considered it my job — my response-ability once again — to give back to them the dignity I had stolen from them. I acknowledged to them that they never deserved to be treated the way I treated them, that they in fact deserved much better. I expressed my desire to make things right between us, starting with a change in my attitude toward them, reflected in the way I would interact with them in the future. The message I had for them was very simple: Today I see things different than I did in the past. I am less important; God and other people are more important.
There were times when I felt other people were out to get me somehow. Sometimes they were and sometimes they were not. However, whether people were or were not out to get me was not the important issue. This is because when I was willing to see what God had for me to learn in any situation, I found most of the attacks I felt were directed at my addictive thinking, my selfish actions and my sinfully distorted way of relating to others. So today, I do my best not to defend myself when I feel attacked. When I have done something wrong, triggering an aggressive response from someone else, I simply apologize for what I have done wrong and ask them what I can do to make things right. Then, above all else, I change my attitudes and my actions. Yes, you have heard it before — actions speak louder than words.
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step by step. He never did one thing wrong, not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back.
I Peter 2:21–23 MSG
The people who gave you the consequences are not your enemies. By seeing those who give you consequences as the enemy, you keep yourself stuck in justifying your behavior. Your real problem is your denial and self-delusion.
Patrick Carnes PhD, Facing the Shadow pg 16
Many of us in Operation Integrity felt quite nervous about making amends to other people. One thing we learned in the process was that making amends to ourselves helped create spiritual and emotional momentum and this helped us move forward and make amends to others. This is because building healthier relationships requires that we address the many ways we have hurt ourselves. While some may dispute this, no one has suffered more from sexual addiction than the one who is sexually addicted.
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 changes to develop financial integrity. When we had hurt ourselves emotionally through self-pity and by blaming others, we faced it and discussed it honestly with others. Sometimes we even wrote ourselves amends letters, addressing them to ourselves at specific ages from our childhood and life. Sitting privately in front of a mirror, we read these letters to ourselves, face-to-face. We also read these letters to our sponsors, and to our counselors and select recovery partners. We gave ourselves grace and understanding. And we made peace with our ups and downs. Recovery is never a straight line from beginning to end. No matter how good or how bad things get, one thing is for sure; things are going to change.
This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011