“A Christ-centered approach to recovery and coordinating small group meetings”
“Made a list of all people we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
One of the things that might help in doing this step is to take a look at our fourth step inventory of the people who harmed us. Most often, we harmed them back in some way. Maybe we even did some things that encouraged them to do us wrong in the first place.
We realize some people were victims in certain circumstances such as rape. We are not suggesting here that somebody should feel guilty about this and engage in introspection as to what they did wrong. This would only add more injury to an innocent victim.
In fact, the purpose of this step is not to make us feel guilty about anything. It is simply to make a list and is part of the ground work for doing the next step. Perhaps these steps could have been combined. However, the dynamics that we’re dealing with in these steps are so intense it is better for us that they are split up.
We need to take this step all by itself to insure that we do it right. We don’t need to worry about the next step of having to actually make amends. If we do both steps together, we may leave out some important items on our list for fear of approaching these people to apologize.
The idea here is to put everybody on the list that we can possibly think of that we may have harmed in some way. This doesn’t mean that we will have to make amends to everybody on the list. It does mean that we have to become willing. We can’t be willing if we refuse to make a thorough list.
Becoming willing to make amends doesn’t mean that we dart off and approach everybody we think we harmed. It means that we are willing to make amends to anybody and at any time the Lord leads us and gives us the opportunity.
One of the first things we think of in making such a list is to rationalize our actions based on what other people did to us. We may not be willing to make amends because another hurt us deeply and in the world economy of things we are tempted to say, “They should be making amends to me.”
No place in these steps does it say they have to make amends to us. These steps are for our healing and spiritual growth. We can’t force others to accept the principles of this program. We can do what we need to do to get better. It is in working these next couple of steps that we enter into a new freedom and come to know peace.
As a result of becoming willing to make amends to them all, we can walk through life with our head held high. We won’t have to worry about who we will run into for fear that it will be an awkward moment. When we become willing, the battle has already been won in our minds.
A big part of willingness is forgiveness. We have to forgive all others the harm they did to us. If we don’t reconcile this issue we will hold a resentment that will keep us from being willing to clean out our own house. Forgiveness is simply a decision we make before God to not hold another accountable for the harm done to us. This is also required by Scripture:
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:17)