We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Today’s meeting is the first meeting of the month which is typically a “Step Study” of the corresponding month. Since August is the 8th month, we reviewed Step 8 in both The Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.
In understanding step 8, I must understand three core concepts. The first concept is that the harm I have caused others was because of more than just my sexual acting out. I admit that I had harmed numerous people directly and indirectly through my sexual activities, but the harm mentioned in Steps 5 and now in Step 8 has little to do with my sexual acting out. The very first sentence of the SAA Green Book states it as clear as possible:
“With the Eighth Step, we begin to take responsibility for the harm we inflicted on others when we acted on our character defects.”
In reading this sentence, my list just got a lot longer. Not only did I have to make amends to the countless victims of my sexual acting out, but now I also had to make amends to those I had harmed through my anger, impatience, procrastination, and other character defects. I had lashed out in anger over trivial matters at work and I needed to add these people to my list. I had lied to others about being late to meetings or appointments, I had to make amends to these people as well.
The second core concept is that in working Step 8, I only had to make a list. I could not worry about the actual amends process, all I needed was a list of names and the harm I had done to them. My list became rather long but my sponsor helped me trim it down by consolidating “anonymous” sex partners and separating them from people I actually associate with on a daily basis. I would not make face-to-face amends with these former sex partners, but that is a discussion for next month and Step 9. The bottom line is, make a list, that is all. I couldn’t worry about how I was going to get in contact with these people or how I would make amends. All I had to do is make a list with names and write down the specifics of how I harmed them with my character defects or my sexual acting out.
The third core concept is that I had to become willing to make amends to all of them. Wanting to make amends and becoming willing to make amends are two different concepts. I want to make amends to everyone I had harmed, but was I truly willing to do so? I needed to review the harm I had caused them with my sponsor in step 8 (and later in again in step 9) and then become willing to make amends to them in order to “clean up my side of the street.” For me, I was willing when I was able to empathize with the pain my character defects had caused them. I was able to understand the harm I had caused them, leaving my selfish addicted-filled shell behind and truly empathized with these people.
Many tears were shed during my Step 8 meetings with my sponsor. God had opened my eyes (and heart) to the harm I had caused others in my out-of-control lifestyle. I was now ready to move on to working on Step 9.
Take what you like and leave the rest.