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Old 09-01-2013, 12:16 PM   #1
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Default Step Nine

About Step 9

"The more difficult an amends is to make, the more negative you may feel toward the person to whom you go to make amends - and the more rewarding the aftermath. There's a spiritual dynamic here that is very powerful. Jesus spoke of it when he told his disciples "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven" [Matt 5:44-45] What does loving them mean? It doesn't mean you have to "like" them, have warm feelings about them. Love for the Hebrew was an action word that seems to have involved moving into another's life space in goodwill, caring. In making amends you may have to go with the bit in your teeth, yet in a helpful and forgiving spirit. Anything the person has done to you, you are willing to forgive (or willing to be made willing)." [J. Keith Miller, A Hunger for Healing, Harper, 1991]

"There may be some wrongs we can never fully right. We don't worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would right them if we could. Some people cannot be seen - we send them an honest letter. And there may be a valid reason for postponement in some cases. But we don't delay if it can be avoided. 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." [Anonymous, Big Book, A.A. World Services, 1939]

"For our continued recovery and spiritual well-being, our making amends must in no way be contingent upon the other person's response (except when to do so would injure him or her). We must overlook the perceived injustices we have experienced as well as see beyond the innumerable rationalizations we conceive to avoid this step. We must shatter every excuse that hinders the taking of this vital step in the path of recovery. What matters here is not what we are owed, but rather what we owe! Though we cannot control how our efforts at amends will be received by another, this step of restoration remains life or death to us; we must pay our pound though owed a million." [Martin M. Davis, The Gospel and the Twelve Steps, RPI Publications Inc., 1993]
Step 9: Related Biblical Themes

* Direct amends. Making amends is a spiritual discipline with a long history. Remember what Jesus said about making amends?

"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." [Matt 5:223-24]

This text suggests that Jesus understood making amends to have a kind of logical priority over any kind of formal worship. He is picking up a theme emphasized repeatedly in the Old Testament:

"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." [Proverbs 21:3]

The reason that making amends is so important is that God is a God of Justice. When we do justice, we honor God. That is why making amends comes first. However important we may think worship or other parts of the Christian life may be, they can't be done properly if we have done damage and we have not made amends. If we haven't made amends, Jesus says, the thing to do is to postpone worship until we've done what needs to be done.

Amends can involve a lot of things - from a simple apology to full restitution. The use of restitution as an element of justice is clearly seen in Numbers 5:5-7:

"When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it, and give it all to the person he has wronged."

Making amends may or may not lead to reconciliation. It may or may not lead to continued relationship. We are not in charge of what it leads to. Having become willing to make amends, we are to honor God by doing whatever justice can be done under the circumstances.

Because Step Nine is just a demanding and frightening step for many people, it is important to remind ourselves that it leads to a significant reward. In discussing Step Nine, the Big Book of A.A. includes a set of promises which communicate clearly the hopefulness and serenity that can come from making amends:

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." [Anonymous, Big Book, A.A. World Services, 1939]

* Wherever possible What if direct amends are not possible? What if a person we harmed is dead, has moved away, or is unavailable to us? It doesn't mean we do nothing. Sometimes we can make 'indirect' amends. This stage of the journey deserves creative effort. With diligence we can find a way to work towards justice. God has a long history of taking situations like this and helping his people find ways to do justice and blessing.

* Except when to do so would injure them or others. We have become willing to make amends to people we have harmed. But, before we do so, we must ask ourselves if making amends will cause additional injury. This part of Step Nine serves a very important role in the recovery process. It forces us to pay attention to how other people are likely to experience us. It forces us to develop empathy - a quality that was singularly lacking at the time we harmed others. The principle is clearly a biblical one:

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." [Philippians 2:4]
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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