Good morning Bloggers,
In the 12-steps of Narcotics Anonymous, steps 8 and 9 seem to challenge addicts the most. Number 8 reads, we made a list of all persons harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. I recall “working the steps” when I was in rehabilitation, and when I approached number 8, it was not that I was scared to do something good to show that I was sorry about something I had done, no, it was the fact that I had to make a list. I thought to myself, ” this list would be of epic proportions”, it would make the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls look like notes on a napkin at a fast food joint. These writings provided an unprecedented picture of the turbulent period when Jesus lived and preached. My list, on the other hand, would be people that I came across and used for decades when my life was stormy, chaotic, and unsettled. Step number 9 states, we made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. I always surmised that my name was included in “others” so it made the task a tad more palatable. I knew there were people out there who maybe didn’t want to kill me but if I just happened to die, oh well! I began drafting my list like my grandmother used to do when she was writing down ingredients for her much ballyhooed, not so with me, vegetable soup that she had to pick up from the market, as she used to call it. She added more items to that homemade broth than a teenager does trying to clean a pool for the first time. I tried different styles of lists; chronological, alphabetical, most hurtful, and a most damage done to list. I soon realized that I was making this too difficult. Amends are not apologies. From the cradle to the grave, we all make errors in judgement and struggle to find a way to make peace with those we have wronged. An apology is like putting a bandage on a wound; amends are surgery. Addiction and other dysfunctions have the ability to irrevocably sever the most intimate bonds of family and friendship, writes Tim Stoddart of sobernation.com. Bingo! Amends allow us to reopen, revamp, and restore relationships. When I paid back Mr. “G”, an elderly man in the neighborhood that I grew up in, after writing a check that was so bad it didn’t bounce but cracked, that was an example of a direct amend. It was close to Christmas time and when I handed him the money he exclaimed, “miracles do happen at Christmas!” It was one of the best feelings in my life. As a knucklehead, I stole money from organizations by pretending to be something that I was not. So, for those past transgressions, I give back to the community by offering my services pro bono; these are examples of indirect amends. My Pastor often tells us, that if you are living a Christian life, everyone that comes in contact with you should know it; no need to have vanity plates on our car screaming how saved we are, no need to quote scripture every other sentence, no been there, done that, got a T-shirt is required. This is an example of Living amends; just showing that you have made a genuine lifestyle change is all that is required. So as the New Year begins and all the diet supplements, fade creams, weight loss shakes, and get rich quick schemes have failed us like a life-raft with no air, why not work on your personal growth and healing process. How about making an atonement for a past discretion? Whether your goal is to amend a family relationship, a work association, or to just humble yourself before others who you have offended, making amends is a great way to mend a broken situation. And it feels good too!