Working the Program: Step 8, Part 3

–Becoming willing means that I want to be healthy and whole, serene and peaceful enough to take the risk I need to take to clean up a relationship and do whatever I can to make things right.

–Becoming willing means that I understand that while I cannot ever put things back like they used to be, after my offense and after my amends, but that God can take the broken pieces and make something beautiful or useful out of my wrong choices.

* * * * *

Making Amends takes many forms….

So, it was that I was to come to understand that making amends takes many forms.

–Sometimes, all that is necessary is to say, “I did this.  I am sorry.  I ask for your forgiveness.”

–There are times when I must change my behavior not so much to prove that my amends is sincere, though that is important, but because behavior tells the truth.  If I really mean it that I am sorry, then my behavior must match the words I say.

–Making amends means that I will do everything in my power not to be a repeat offender, and the person with whom I am hoping to reconcile and I may need to talk about what action would communicate that I am sincerely wanting reconciliation.

–Making amends requires me to look at what is broken.  Is it communication between myself and another?  Did I break the trust between us?  Is the relationship broken permanently, or is there hope for reconciliation?

–Making amends means that I am intentional, consciously choosing my words and actions to show that I want to repair what I have broken, if that is possible.

* * * * *

What making amends is not…

             Making amends doesn’t mean I give the other person the job of being my parole officer to watch over me to make sure I don’t repeat my original sin.

Making amends doesn’t mean that I grovel and beg for another chance.

Making amends doesn’t mean that I appoint the person I offended as God, allowing that person to decide when I’ve done enough to earn his/her forgiveness.

Making amends doesn’t mean that I allow another person to determine my punishment.

Making amends doesn’t mean that I have to be reminded of my errors, defects and sins. I will likely do enough of that to myself.

Making amends does not mean that I take on the wrong of another person as my fault.

Other people have their part in making the messes of our lives; I can make amends only for what I have done or said to harm myself or another person.* * * * *

When your best is not enough – and never will be….

 “Jeanie,” my sponsor said to me, firmly, “the devil’s best weapon of defeat is to keep us bound by the one relationship we cannot repair, the one defeat we cannot overcome, the one person’s whose forgiveness we can never earn       .”

Sometimes I have carried my amends with an open heart to a person I have offended, betrayed or hurt, and the person refuses to forgive me, won’t let me try to fix what I have broken or ridicules me for my weakness and my flaws?  What if that person keeps a closed heart and mind to me and won’t hear me or give me another chance?

There was a time in my life when I agonized over a relationship I could not repair, no matter what I did or said.

“There are two parts to forgiveness,” a wise priest told me. “One part is asking for forgiveness and the other part is giving forgiveness.”

He paused, and then he asked, “Has this person asked you for your forgiveness?”

“No,” I responded, and the sound of that one syllable sounded like a last gasp in a long process of pain and suffering.

“You have done all you can do to repair this relationship,” he told me.  “Now, go in peace.”

And I did.

* * * * *

And what about making amends to myself?

Facing the facts about what harm we have done to ourselves is only the starting point to serenity and peace.  Here are some suggestions for accessing self-forgiveness and appropriating the forgiveness of God and others.

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