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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

OA - Steps 8 and 9 - Amends

A friend was talking today about how in the Bible miracles didn't just happen.  God often required people to do something first and/or to use what they had at hand before the miracle occurred.  That reminded me of my OA journey.  It has been miraculous healing and it has been a lot of hard work.

Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 

Once you search your soul for character defects and harmful behaviors in step 4 and ask your higher power to remove them in step 7 you are ready to live life with different rules, better coping strategies, and more peaceful results.  However, you still have the mess of the past to clean up.  Some religions call this penance, I just think of it as making things right. 

Some names came to mind right away.  I knew who I had hurt and how.  Others were more hidden.  As I had analyzed my past with my sponsor in step 5, I discovered that very often hidden in my resentments, hurts, and fears were my own wrongs.  Human beings often hurt others when they themselves are hurt.  I learned that it didn't matter who started it or who did more damage, I was still responsible to clean up my side of the street.  I was also responsible for the choice to hang on to un-forgiveness and pain and letting it corrupt my life. 

For me this step was a process.  There were some names on the list I was willing to reconcile with right away.  Going through the process gave me the strength to tackle other names that were not so 'easy'.

Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. 

My first amends was to a former college roommate whom I felt I had treated unkindly.  I found her through social media and sent a letter of apology.  She wrote back and thanked me and included her own apology.  It was an amazing moment of healing.  We both felt honored and validated.  It was a precious experience. 

Not all amends are this easy or productive.  The people you approach may not be ready to accept your repentance or to forgive you in kind.  They may not even want to talk to you.  It's not about that.  It's about doing the right thing for the right reason and leaving the results up to God.

There are a few types of amends.  First is the direct amends - an apology or possibly financial reparation.  This can be done face-to-face or in a letter. It is important no to mention anything the other person did to you.  This is only about asking forgiveness for your actions.

Another type of amends is indirect.  This involves situations where the person has passed away.  Many people find healing by writing a letter and taking it to the graveside or burning it.

Lastly, there are living amends.  This is where you live the apology.  Some situations are too tricky or the person involved would actually be hurt by your revelation.  It is your job to live out the changes in behavior that will show them your apology.  In a way all amends should be followed up with living amends.  Otherwise the words are hollow and meaningless.

So - what does all this have to do with food, or drinking, or any other addiction?

The Big Book of AA says that if we do not rid ourselves of the character defects that cause self-seeking behaviors and cause us to harm ourselves and others we will return to our drug of choice.

For me this means, I cannot afford to bury my feelings and my selfish behaviors if I want to live a healthy , happy, free life.  The road to peace is the road of repentance and restoration. 

I've lived on the other side - enesticized by food and afraid of life.  This way is so much better!

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