We are discussing the 12-Step AA Program and how it might benefit us spiritually. We have talked about how when we admit we need Jesus, there are certain things that can then guide our spiritual journey into wholeness and peace. Here are the steps we’ve looked at so far:
- Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
- Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
- Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
- Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
- Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
And now Step 9:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Whereas in Step 5 we admitted our wrongs and Step 8 had us make a list of the persons we have harmed, Step 9 challenges us to take an active role in righting those wrongs.
This brings to mind the St. Francis Prayer for Peace…
Make me a channel of Your peace, where there is hatred, let me bring Your love.
Only I would rewrite it in this context to say:
Where there’s been hatred, let me bring Your love.
You’ve made a list of the people you have hurt by your insistence on trying to live life on your own, with your own strength. You see now that hasn’t worked. Who do you need to apologize to or return money to or admit you’ve been wrong to?
The 12-Step Program says it like this:
Step 9 completes what I started in step 8. I make amends to those that I have harmed. I pay back debts I owe. I apologize. I write letters. I find time to do and say things that would help heal the damage that I have done. I try to bring goodness where previously I had brought discord and destruction. It takes insight, courage and dedication to make such amends, but now I have the help of my God to know what to do and how to do it. I learn to earnestly seek the right way to go about this process from my God. I start to live the kind of life that my God has meant for me to live all along.
- From 12Step.org
I really like the emphasis on relying on God to help you see what to do and how to do it.
The Traditions of the 12-Step Program spell out that not all amends situations are built the same, and each requires a Godly Wisdom in how to deal with it:
After we have made a list of people we have harmed, have reflected carefully upon each instance, and have tried to possess ourselves of the right attitude in which to proceed, we will see that the making of direct amends divides those we should approach into several classes. There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety. There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good. There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all.
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 83
So this step is not to be taken as “Go right now and apologize.” In fact this step may take a very long time to actually get through. I think it starts with praying that God will help you be willing and able to apologize and make things right. This step requires a great deal of strength, and surely that is Godly strength and not your own.
Remember, always start each step with the deep, core understanding that I Need Jesus. Once you do that, things don’t necessarily becomes easy, they just become possible.