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06/24/16

Permalink 08:06:41 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 306 words   English (US)

Amends and Forgiveness

Early in my recovery process, God laid on my heart many situations for which I needed to make amends. Even though it was a very painful process to go through, I felt much better about myself for making the list and following through with the amends. Since that time I have continued to take personal inventory, and when I was wrong, promptly (well, usually I've been prompt :-) admitted it -- once I recognized my mistake.

But when it's me that has been wronged, am I able to see whether or not I have anything to make amends for in that situation? I think that sometimes I may be unable to see my own mistakes through the pain that I suffer as a result of other people's words and/or actions. This may be where forgiveness comes into play. I doubt whether I can truly make amends in the case where I have not forgiven that person for what they have done to wound me.

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3:13 )

There could be other times when I am over-sensitive to my actions and may choose to make amends when no amends are needed. This is less-likely, but I need to be careful to seek, and to stay in, God's will.

I'm coming to believe that forgiving doesn't mean excusing or forgetting the wrong. And it doesn't mean a removal of consequences. But it does mean a change of attitude on my part. It means that I begin to wish the offender well. It means that I pray that my offender may find healing through recovery, so that they may find the peace and joy that I am finding in the Lord. It means that I want to see my offender as an erring child of God, such as I. It means... that I am becoming willing to make amends.

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:" (Matthew 6:14 )

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

02/26/16

Permalink 09:17:58 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 319 words   English (US)

Willing Amends

I mark the beginning of my recovery process at a camp meeting in June of 1994. It was there that I began to understand and practice the third step in conjunction with the first two. The very day after my first real victory, as a result of third-step surrender, an incredible burden of my past mistakes came flooding in on me (Step 4). A few days later (after confessing to God), I confessed my faults to another person (a very difficult Step 5). It wasn't long after that (a week, maybe) when I began to think of all the persons I had wronged, but never made amends to (Step 8).

What continues to be amazing to me is the fact that, at that time, I had absolutely no knowledge of what the steps of the 12-Step program were. And frankly, I had a negative opinion of the program because it didn't seem to help a person, whom I knew very well, who used to attend. But, in spite of that, God was leading and convicting me in those very same steps in my own life.

As I made this list of all the persons I had harmed, it was difficult to become willing to actually make amends. In my mind (intellectually), I knew that it was the right thing to do (Matthew 5:23,24 ), but emotionally it was very scary. I didn't want to become vulnerable. All my life prior to this I always shunned any situation that would require my vulnerability. But now this unhealthy reserve was beginning to break down, largely because of my fifth-step sharing that I had already done. Even though this was all very hard, it helped me to become more honest, vulnerable, and more accountable for my past mistakes. All these things helped to reduce my feelings of shame and have been an integral part of my recovery process. For this I am very grateful and praise God :-)

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

12/04/15

Permalink 08:19:25 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 430 words   English (US)

The Golden Rule of Forgiveness

Immediately following "The Lord's Prayer", Jesus said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matthew 6:14-15 ).
It is hard for many of us to become willing to make amends to at least some of the people we have harmed because of our lack of forgiveness -- due to what they have done to us. We may still think they deserved what we did to them. And really, they probably did, because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23 ), right?

But wait a minute... I have a friend who I've often heard saying, "It's a 2-way street". It's easy to forget that "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23 ) & (Romans 5:12 ) and that means me to! And since the natural result of sin is death (Romans 6:23 ), I deserve to die just as much as that person whom I don't want to forgive. Now that's a sobering thought. From that perspective, I really can't put myself above that person anymore, because I'm just as much a sinner as he/she is!

I must remember that vengeance is the Lord's. He will repay, and I shouldn't (Romans 12:19 ). And even though "the wages of sin is death... the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23 ). And that doesn't just apply to me. It also applies to everyone who has wronged me. So why shouldn't I forgive them, just as God forgives me?

Forgiveness is a decision. It’s an action of the will. It’s handled just like any other temptation. Yes, just as we can be bound by sins that easily beset us, so we can also be bound by lack of forgiveness. But, forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting that wrong was done. I think it is more about allowing for other people's mistakes just as I would like others to allow for my mistakes. Hmm... that sounds a lot like the Golden Rule, from a different perspective. Maybe we should also have the Golden Rule of Forgiveness: "Forgive others, as you would have them forgive you".

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3:12-13 ). "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any, that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25 ).

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

09/11/15

Permalink 07:41:12 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 249 words   English (US)

Willingness

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16 ) Scripture is full of texts like this that show God's willingness to save us from those sins that "so easily beset us" (Heb 12:1 ). There is no question, in my mind, as to the willingness of God.

Because of this, it seems to me that, my recovery process is largely dependent upon my willingness.

  • Willingness to admit that I can't do it myself.
  • Willingness to accept God as my Friend, Savior, and King.
  • Willingness to search deep within myself to find my hidden issues.
  • Willingness to confess what I'm really like.
  • Willingness to let God work in my life to mend my brokenness.
  • And now, Step 8 calls for my willingness to make amends to those whom I've wronged.

The question is, "Will I continue to willingly follow God's leading through this process of Sanctification?" Yes, making amends is uncomfortable. It's even scary. But, looking back now on the many times that I have willingly made amends, I can honestly say that the pain is well worth the gain. Peace always comes to me out of the turmoil of those painful experiences.

No matter how steep the path of recovery becomes, He is willing and able (Eph 3:20 ) to keep me climbing. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )

Jesus said, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23-24 ). "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.' Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:20-21 )

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

06/19/15

Permalink 07:57:44 am, Step(s): 08 Make a list..., 460 words   English (US)

Baking Soda & Acidic Shame

It seems to me that there are at least two ways to deal with guilt and shame. The most common method seems to be to just stuff it -- pretend that it never happened. This doesn't seem to work to well, because in our heart of hearts, we know that it did happen, and it never really goes away. There seems to be some evidence that a result of stuffing it is lot like acid, eroding us from the inside out -- emotionally and sometimes even physically. Some claim that there are a number of debilitating diseases largely caused by trying to forget and to conceal the garbage in our lives.

Fortunately, there is a better way. We know that if we confess our sins to God, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9 ). But, we also have another shame-reducing tool, called "amends". As we become willing to make amends to those whom we have harmed, we begin to expel more of that acidic shame from our emotional and physical being.

Have you ever used baking soda and water to clean up battery acid? If so, you've seen the rather violent reaction between those two chemicals. And, you've seen the results -- cleaned battery terminals. It is much the same as we become willing to make amends. It can be a violently painful experience, but the result is the neutralization of the acidic shame that we had been harboring. Of course this does not change our history. The deed was still done, but now it becomes easier to forgive ourselves and not let the past control our present and future.

Once I have confessed my sin to God and have done what I can to make amends with those I've harmed, I have no reason to carry guilt and shame any longer. By Jesus' death on that old rugged cross, the penalty was paid for my sin. By that amazing gift He cleanses me of guilt. Then by following Christ's direction in Matthew 5:23,24, I am also cleansed of shame.

If, after that, I still feel shamed, I know that an enemy is tempting me to hold that shame and I must surrender that feeling to God. He is faithful and just to deliver me from even that :-).

"So, if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23,24 ). There are some, however, that will not reconcile with you. In that case, "do all that you can to live in peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18 ).

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

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