8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Has anybody noticed we’ve been stuck between Step 8 and Step 9 for a while now?
Here’s one thing I’m learning about the Twelve Steps. You don’t work through them as if you were going through a grocery list, marking off items as you put them in your shopping cart. As soon as you try to wrap up a step, you realize something you missed about an earlier step, or you learn a deeper ramification about a step than what you previously surmised. This is why people can be in their 27th year of recovery still going to AA meetings and still “working” the steps. You never complete a step. You “work” the steps. They are doorways into things we need to face, change or remember about ourselves and our relationships with God and others.
We are entangled in sin and the Twelve Steps are a means of disentanglement. The beauty is, unlike anything else, this program faces this head-on.
So often among Christians, the assumption is that we are signed, sealed, delivered and going to heaven. The longer we’ve been believers, the better we are presumed to be. Our forgiveness tends to be somewhere in the past when we were sinners, but now we don’t talk about forgiveness very much except for sinners who are coming to Christ for the first time. Sin is thought of as a slip-up — a once in a while mistake and not a continual battle.
In contrast, attendance at an AA meeting presumes an entanglement in sin that we constantly need help with. This is too much for us to pull off on our own. Matters not how long we’ve been coming. And this doesn’t mean we never get over our problems. It means we are weak in our humanity and the temptation to sin is ever before us. We don’t get “cured.” We might get a little stronger — quicker to depend on the Lord — but we don’t get cured. We are close to our sin so we live close to our forgiveness, which makes us more readily able to share the story of our forgiveness with other sinners. The story is always fresh. We aren’t “better than” anyone, but we are hopefully “getting better” than we were.
So it also stands to reason that we can get stuck on a step like I am now. Anyone else having trouble with making amends? I’ve got my list, but I’m not yet willing to do anything about it. Pray for me.