Tag Archive: apology

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





I am abstinent by the grace of God, one more day at a time.  For details, check out my food journal.

Yesterday, my plans to be helpful were changed by some of those I was trying to help.  Still, I was able to trust in God to make the most of my moments, though they came out of the order my limited understanding had expected.  Today is my wedding anniversary, so I am celebrating the precious life most affected by my emotional sobriety, and the relationship between us.  I am grateful to God for the gift of my wife!



From today’s entry in Voices of Recovery:

To amend something means to alter it. To be free of the wreckage of my past, I have to do more than just say I’m sorry when I harm another person. I have to change my behavior.

  …A life well-lived requires that I continue to change, grow and clean up the wreckage of my past—and my present.”

I remember as a young Protestant kid growing up, hearing from my Catholic friends about “confession,” which sounded to me (and to some of them) like a magical opportunity to wipe clean a dirty slate no matter what behavior preceded it.  I was jealous of the license granted to those who misunderstood that sacrament, because I also misunderstood it.  Amends does not give license to misbehave.  Neither is it merely an apologetic correction fluid, covering up harms done with the brush stroke of a single “I’m sorry.”  The word “mend” brings to my mind a hard-working woman, diligently darning socks or patching garments, salvaging what is worn, by attempting to repair its damage, to make it as much like new as possible given the trauma the garment has endured.  She knows the fabric will never be new, but she makes the most of it by doing what she can in her workshop.  I am doing my best to live in that woman’s workshop, darning the socks I have worn out with my own repetitive harmful motion and pressure, patching the garments I have scuffed with my attitude, stitching seams I have split with my will, wish and way.

God, help me live in Your provision, reflecting Your grace, so that no harm may come by my hand, which I offer to You to help those You give me the opportunity to serve.  Knit together those lives I have torn or worn bare by my negligence to follow Your will up to this moment.

From Proverbs Chapter 8:

30 Then I (Wisdom) was the craftsman at his side.  I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, 31rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.


This Chapter personifies Wisdom and places her in opposition to the harlot of yesterday’s devotion, who crafts the demise of the self-willed, weak, and ill-prepared.  Wisdom glories in the proper form and function of creation and, one can presume, is grieved by its perversion from that original design, as any craftsman might be.  This Wisdom, and the Spirit who delivers it, are delighted to help me realign with the blueprint of my life, and I eagerly accept their help to rebuild what I have destroyed by my rebellion.

Creator, remove every defect; grant me strength to do Your bidding.


From my reading through the Bible, currently in Nehemiah 11 and 12:

Chapter 11 lists the tithe of people chosen by lottery to live within Jerusalem’s walls.  The rest of the people lived out in the towns and villages.  One of the last such places described was “the Valley of the Craftsmen.”  What a cool name for a place!  Perhaps I could imagine myself going through the Valley of the Craftsmen instead of living in the seamstress’ workshop.  At any rate, I am happy to be the constructed, and to do my part in the construction, which is usually just a quiet submission to the hand of the Craftsman.

In Chapter 12, the Levites took their designated positions around the wall and in the house of God, to celebrate, with music and praise, the dedication of the wall.  “43 And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy.”  I do not know how to adequately demonstrate my gratitude for the reconstruction God is accomplishing in my life.  I say “thanks” for my abstinence, health, agility, or emotional sobriety, but the “great sacrifices” I have to give are those momentary decisions of my life when I offer myself to God instead of using His creation to indulge myself.  I try to begin my morning circling the wall of my life and entering into the spiritual house of God, to dedicate this sacrifice, but it seems that once the ceremonial observance is concluded, it doesn’t take long for my will to start grabbing at the wheel of my life.

I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:21, which promises, “If a man cleanses himself from (ignoble purposes), he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”  God, I offer myself to You, to build with me and to do with me as You will.

From The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, page 27:

Instead of acting on impulse, we pause long enough to learn God’s will.  Then, instead of resorting to willpower, we relax and reach out to receive help from our Higher Power.  All we need say is, ‘God, please help me to do your will.’


Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”  3 John 2

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