I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me, every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me the strength, as I go out from here, to do Your biding.
Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006 The big book tells us that after we say the seventh step prayer "We have then completed step seven." What is meant by that is not that this is all there is to it. But that we should not wait and begin immediately with step Eight. We don't wait for our liabilities to lessen or disappear since this is a life long project. We continue working step seven on a daily basis and begin immediately with step Eight.
Step Eight: "Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all".
This step asks me to make a list of all the persons I have harmed so I can't pick and chose. I have to become willing to make amends to all of them not just a part of them. In order to become willing I have first to realize what is demanded of me. How I am expected to make amends in different situations and what is meant by the word amends. The Big Book deals with that subject on pages 76-83.
The Big Book tells me that I already have such a list. I made the list when I wrote step four. It is the list of harm done to others by our sex conduct and by our general conduct. So what I have to do is go over my lists and see if there are some people I missed when I wrote the lists, or there are some people to add that I harmed after I wrote the lists. If there are such people I should add them to the list like I did in step four and share with my sponsor as in step five.
The Big Book defines amends as follows: "Now we go out to our fellows and REPAIR THE DAMAGE DONE IN THE PAST."
The damage may be physical as in breaking someone's nose etc…, Emotional as in insulting someone, or causing fear, envy, bitterness, suspicion, etc… Financial as in stealing, not returning borrowed things, not paying debts, etc…
The Big Book gives general directions on making amends in the wording of step nine. "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others"
DIRECT means that amends should be made FACE TO FACE. WHEREVER means anyplace, anywhere anytime of day or night as agreed between you and the other person.
That means I have to meet the other person face to face where and when he/she can meet me and repair the damage I did in the past. I don't make direct amends only if to do so, would harm the person I have to make amends to, or if it would harm others. In such cases I recommend to talk with your sponsor and check if it is possible to make indirect amends in some way.
Others DOES NOT INCLUDE ME. The Big Book is very explicit about it. "Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any length to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given the strength and direction to do the right thing, NO MATTER WHAT THE PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES MAY BE."
We also see that the Big Book directs us to pray before making the amend. Example: God please give me the strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be.
This matter of not harming others by our amends is very serious. Making amends is not always a simple matter. There are situations in which we may cause additional harm by trying to make amends or we may even cause worse harm. Therefore I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that before we make any amends we talk with our sponsor and check to see if the amends I have in mind are according to the directions in the Big Book, and if I will not cause additional damage and harm by those amends to the person I plan to amend or to others.
Now let us mention some specific examples that are mentioned in the Big Book.
Persons we dislike or hate who may be have done more harm to us than we to them. We don't wait till we like them or forgive them. we make amends for our part no matter how small it is compared to theirs. We don't deal with or mention their part at all.
People we owe money to. We meet them and make an arrangement to pay it back. If we can't pay it all at once we make an arrangement to pay back in installments.
When we are married and had relations with another woman or man. If the wife/husband does not know we shouldn't always tell. It depends on the damage we may cause to our partner or to the children. This is clearly a situation where talking with the sponsor is a must. If we can't tell does it mean that we don't make amends at all? NO!!! We can't make direct amends but we can change our behavior and stop playing around. This is called in the fellowships LIVING AMENDS. "Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead,…So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance kindliness and love." "…our behavior will convince them more than our words."
So we turn to God and try to live up to our ideals of intimate relationships and other relations.
If our partner does know, we make direct amends. We don't involve the third party and don't give any details about that other person. "…we have no right to involve the other person. We are sorry for what we have done and God willing, it shall not be repeated. More than that we cannot do; we have no right to go further."
If we cannot meet the other person face to face because he does not agree to meet us or he lives in a different country and there are valid reasons that make it impossible for us to meet. Then as second choice we talk over the phone. If even this cannot be done we write a letter.
Sometimes we don't know where the other person is. Maybe she/he changed her /his name or moved to another address or country and we don't know his whereabouts. Then the name remains on the list and we do everything we can to find that person. If we still don't find him than we cannot do the amends. "There may be some wrongs we may never fully right. We don't worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would right them if we could"
How do we make amends to people who are dead? We can't. Those belong to the category of some wrongs we may never fully right. There are sometimes partial amends that we can do. If we owe them money may be we could return it to their heirs, or to some charity. We can also perform some symbolic acts that from personal experience may be of some help to us. Like apologizing to them on their graves. Or writing a letter to them and symbolically giving it to God.
How about amends to institutions? Those are usually cases of stealing or borrowing, and not returning debts. So we make direct amends and return the money or objects. If it is not possible to return money because the institute cannot take it back, then from personal experience it is best to donate it to a charity or some volunteer organization that helps people.
What do we say when we make amends and what do we avoid saying? "We go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit, confessing our former ill feelings and expressing our regret." The big book tells us that we express our regret, but it does not say that we ask for forgiveness. So we don't ask for forgiveness. I think the reason is simple. The other person does not have to forgive us. We should not expect or ask for anything of this kind. This is his decision. We deal only with our part and don't throw obligations his way.
We explain that we are in a twelve step spiritual program, only if the other person understands and is in favor of a spiritual way of life.
What about mentioning what the other person did to us, that may be far worse than what we did to him? "Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue…We are there to sweep off our side of the street, realizing that nothing worth while can be accomplished until we do so, never trying to tell him what he should do. His faults are not discussed. We stick to our own."
How should we behave generally? "We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping. As God's people we stand on our feet; we don't crawl before anyone.
What about the behavior of the other person? His behavior is his business not ours. "It should not matter, however, if someone does throw us out of his office. We have made our demonstration, done our part. It's water over the dam".
ASSIGNMENTS: 1. Go over your step four lists of harm done to others by sexual conduct and by general conduct. Pray to God to help you remember people you have harmed that are not on the lists. and people you have harmed after writing the lists. Give yourself some time to sit quietly and if any names come up add them to the lists as in step four and share with your sponsor as in step five.
2. Read pages 76-83 carefully. Copy the sentences that tell you the following:
a) The meaning of the word 'amends'.3. How do we make amends to the following? People who don't want to meet us, people who don't want to talk to us, People we can't find, people we can't meet because of objective circumstances like living in another country, etc…, dead people, institutions,
4. Go over your lists of harm done to others by sexual conduct and general conduct. Copy the names of the persons to a new eight step list, which will consist of five lists. Each list will have three columns and three names to a page.
a) People That I find it easy to make amends to and I am willing to make the amends as soon as possible.5. In the second column of each list write very briefly the harm you caused to each person on the list
6. In the third column of each list write exactly the amends that should be made and how you plan to make them. If you are not willing to make them then write that you are not willing to make them.
If you can than share an example from each list with us.
7. Contact your sponsor as soon as possible and meet him or talk with him on the phone. Discus with him what you have written for each person on the lists. Make sure that you are not going to cause harm to other persons by the proposed amends. Discuss with your sponsor the amends you are not willing to make and your reasons.
8. Pray to H.P. every day to help you be willing to make the amends that you don't want to make
I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Wishing us all a life full of recovery Shlomo Food addict and compulsive overeater
The Twelve Steps
© Copyright 2006 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved