Tag Archive: amends


Forgive Again!

This morning I visited an AA meeting before my regular OA meeting. While sitting among them listening to their Step Eight shares, the following occurred to me:

I, like many Twelve-Steppers before me, resist listing harms done in Step Eight because I am fully aware of the Step Nine amends to follow. One of the basic spiritual concepts linked with Step Eight is forgiveness, and many people mingle forgiveness with amends because they believe an apology is necessary in order to forgive. I often say that the hardest ones to forgive are those who know not what they do. I can tell that I’m getting the two confused when I repeat an apology or fail to repeat forgiveness. I don’t want to be the guy who starts every day telling his wife he is sorry for cheating on her in 1985. That guy is ruining two lives. I also know there is something amiss when I ask God to forgive that sorry, no-good, son of a trouble-maker! I cannot leave all the forgiving to God.

The hardest ones to forgive are those who know not what they do.

When I think of amends, I think of a tailor repairing a garment. I don’t know much about how sewing machines work, but I do know there is a spool at the top and a bobbin underneath. If the thread only comes from the top and never the bottom, as soon as the fabric is lifted, the thread pulls right out. So it is when forgiveness only comes from Heaven. When it is not met with forgiveness from someone of us down here underneath, it has no chance to bind to the fabric and all the blessed progress just comes unfurled.

There is a white board on my bedroom wall, and on it I have written a forgiveness prayer that goes like this:

“I love and forgive _____ in the Name of Jesus, and I call my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors into alignment with God’s will.”

Below that prayer is a running list of my resentments, each one an answer to my fill-in-the-blank prayer. The list has changed some since I first took a Fourth Step, but it is my way of continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when I’m wrong. The thing is, I have to list those people, groups, and institutions regularly, or my carnal self will begin to slip back into judgment, I will hold those parties in contempt, often trying to punish or correct them, and maybe even despising them with bitterness that poisons only one soul — mine. While praying this list, sometimes I think, “I don’t even think about that person anymore,” and they retire off my list. Other days, I storm into my room and emblazon a new name on my list, and I start again, calling God’s will into my life and aligning with it my intentions for a loving attitude.

I confess I suck at this forgiveness routine. That’s one of the many reasons my own name appears at the top of my forgiveness list. I despise the me that failed at being kind and generous today almost as much as the 6 year-old me who never stopped crying because he was convinced nobody loved him. I want to tell that school kid to suck it up and get a grip, and I want to tell the grown man in the mirror how ashamed of him I am for failing at grace so quickly after committing to mission living in his morning devotion.

Still, the stitches of forgiveness are made with a spool from above and a bobbin below, so I’ll bob and weave my part while God supplies the good stuff from above. As today’s AA meeting closed with the Lord’s Prayer, I heard “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” a little differently. God and I are stitching a tapestry, making something new of many tattered shreds. It’s His masterpiece; I’m just submitting to His work.

The stitches of forgiveness are made with a spool from above and a bobbin below.

 

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5, NIV

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15, NIV

 

 

Going Against the Current

 Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭14‬:‭9‬ NLT)

Friends of Earth make sport of children of Heaven who make introspection a habit and holiness a goal. “Nobody likes a saint,” mockers say. Just yesterday I was ridiculed by one of my childhood mentors who tried to tell me that “self-flagellation,” which was his word to describe my practice of living Twelve-Step life surrendered to God, was unnecessary and unproductive. I have to remember that the broken world will resist my amends-making, because disorder does not well tolerate order. It goes against the current.

Holy Father, today, accept this broken offering and transfigure it into a useful beacon to You. Give me grace to continue on the upstream path You have set before me. Never let me forget what waits ahead: more perfect unity with You.

A Never-Ending Story

Making amends is far more than making an apology; it is living in such a way as to rebuild what has been broken. This means that in order to heal, I have to stop harming. Since I have not yet attained perfection, however, I am likely to harm again. I do still occupy a faulty human body after all.

Living amends is a lot like doing the laundry. I wish sometimes that it would finally be done once and for all, but inevitably I find that the clothes I’m wearing on wash day need washing too. Making amends for the selfish will-manipulation that plagues my life and threatens my relationships is a never-ending process. I can’t just wish it over and stop trying. No one wants me at their helm and I am no one’s rudder.

I cannot hold open my hands to receive God’s provision for me if I refuse to extract my grabbing claws out of the backs of my fellows.

Dear Father, today, make me grateful for all You have given me, so I am not so inclined to rob from others their will, their joy, or their serenity.

Priorities

Priorities pyramidOne concept I have recognized as a characteristic of the spiritual disease of self-centeredness is that priorities are all askew. In fact, they are inverted. In the disease, we do what we feel like rather than what we know. The misery is that, all of us know people who get these out of order, and even while we spend our lives living the Twelve Steps to the best of our ability, recognizing that perhaps the one who offends us is spiritually sick, we are still affected by the upside-down style of living done by most of the world around us.

We who are recovering from addiction spent a lifetime doing what we felt like at the expense of ourselves and of any who came near us. As we committed ourselves to seeking God’s will for us and to living in the amends for such harm we had done, we often find ourselves absorbing some similar blows. A compulsive overeater recovering from his addiction has to look at every single bite as it relates to this paradigm, and it can be downright perplexing, even aggravating when others do not.

A recovering addict living the Twelve Steps knows that there are certain things that must be done. First and foremost, if he wants to retain his recovery, is to tend to his relationship with God. If he is married, he tends to that relationship also, as well as the needs of himself, the body, soul, and spirit: eating, breathing, sleeping, praying. Next comes the things that need to be done: tending to the routines of home and hearth, buying groceries, doing laundry, keeping the kitchen, yard, and such. Then there are the tasks that should be done: the maintenance and repairs, those chores that allow some lee-way in their deadlines but which deserve attention before the things we want to do. Recreational activities, hobbies, and entertainment are all nice, and somewhat necessary when there is time for them, but they come after all of the above. Last is what we feel like, the category that used to run our lives, but if we are diligent about our recovery, now sits silently at the bottom of the priority pyramid – dead silent, for we put to death the misdeeds of the body when we accepted God’s will for our lives and put Him in charge of our every decision, every activity, and, for the recovering compulsive overeater, every bite. Anything in this category, for the one in recovery, doesn’t matter at all.

Anyone who has read the Big Book’s statement on acceptance knows that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake” (Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition, page 417).  So, whether the people of this world are living upside-down or right side up, my job is to fit between them, finding opportunity in every gap to be of service to them all, in the hopes that one day, one or two might ask me why it seems I have a different perspective. If they want it badly enough, perhaps they will ask me how I got what I have, and I will tell them about the Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous.

Obey, Love, Enjoy!

John 15:9-12, NIV

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jesus told me to follow His commands so that my joy may be complete.  Not so that He may have a multitude of followers, or that the world may go more smoothly, but for my benefit.  His primary command is to love one another.  The way He showed me to do this is sacrificially, in preference for my neighbor over myself.

Dear Father, today, forgive me for missing opportunities to love my neighbor.  Show me how to love like You love, and orchestrate new moments for me to exercise my love for You in behalf of others.