Step 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:10,18)
Today’s meeting is the first meeting of the month which is typically a “Step Study” of the corresponding month. Since September is the 9th month, we reviewed Step 9 in both The Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.
I believe the most important reason to make amends is to clean up “our side of the street.” When we make amends to others, we are not asking for their forgiveness, we are simply taking ownership of what we did to wrong them and offering to “pay” for the damage we caused. This “payment” can be done in terms of actual money or other non-financial reparations that need to be made in order to offset the damage we have done, such as being emotionally present if we were emotionally absent in our addiction.
In making amends, we do not concern ourselves with the out come of the amends or the other person’s reaction. Their reaction is not a reflection on how well or poorly we made amends, that is their business and none of ours. Our only task in making amends is to take ownership for what we did wrong and make amends as previously mentioned.
Some of the best amends we can make to others are what are called “living amends” or basically a change in lifestyle. When our friends, family, etc… see that we are now living a different lifestyle filled with gratitude and thanksgiving, then our amends become living. The change that began in the first few steps is now seen as evident when we make amends to others. This change continues as we grow in maturity and in connection with God.
Finally, we must understand the second part of step 9 – except when to do those would injure them or others. This is extremely important if our amends to certain individuals will harm them more than do good. Perhaps they no long wish to have any contact with us, therefore, we respect their decisions and make amends privately, written in a letter form, to our Sponsor. This is also true for those of us who are married and wish to make amends to old acting-out partners. Amends to these past partners should only be done if our spouse approves of the amends and method, and maybe tags along too! Many spouses do not want the addict to make contact with old acting-out partners, which is a completely acceptable request from the spouse. In these cases, we also write letters to our old acting out partners and read those amends letters to our sponsor.