Day 63 – Step Work
KEY PRINCIPLE: Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
Before our recovery, our addictive lifestyles were like a tornado full of destructive energy that cut through our relationships, leaving much wreckage behind. Step 8 was an opportunity to make a plan to clean up the wreckage and rebuild all that could be saved. When we felt the healing power of the Savior’s mercy as we worked on step 7, we felt eager to reach out to others and to mend broken relationships. We learned, however, that impulsively rushing to make amends without taking time for prayer and perhaps counsel from a trusted adviser, such as a bishop or other priesthood leader, could be as detrimental as not making amends. Step 8 was an assurance against harming others when we began contacting them in step 9.
As you prepare to “make a list” and “become willing” to make amends, how are you feeling?
I feel ok. There is at least one person that I don’t really feel I should contact at all due to the severity of the relationship we had. I feel good about contacting all other people on my list, although some (like my parents), may not really understand what I’m doing or why I’m asking their forgiveness. Hopefully working this step and talking with my sponsor will give me ideas on how I can best approach these types of people best.
Before we actually make amends, we will have a plan, agreed?
Agreed. I’m sure this step will help me formulate that plan more clearly.
Before we could rebuild relationships, we needed to identify the relationships that were damaged. We began to list people we had harmed, but many of us found we could not list these people without being distracted by feelings of resentment toward those who had harmed us. We honestly confessed our negative feelings to the Lord. In response, He showed us that we faced the same decision as the man in the parable who, having been forgiven of all his debts, needed to forgive others. We could almost hear the Lord say to us, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have . . . compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matthew 18:32–33).
Do you still have serious resentment towards individuals in your inventory?
I don’t think so. Only a couple people on the list I created come to mind in regard to resentment, but I feel I’m ready to let things go and move forward with my life.
If you find yourself facing this problem, you may need to do as many of us have done. Before you make a list of people from whom you need to seek forgiveness, first list those people you need to forgive. Don’t be surprised if some names appear on both lists. People often get caught in terrible cycles of exchanging hurts with others. To break these cycles of mutual resentment, someone has to be willing to forgive.
Can you see that forgiveness of others must come first before making amends?
Yes, I see how that can be the case.
To begin this process of forgiveness, we once more found the tool of writing to be invaluable. Next to the names of the people we needed to forgive, we recorded the way we originally felt when the hurtful incidents happened and what we were still tempted to feel. The list helped us be specific in our prayers as we shared with the Father all our unresolved feelings. We pled for the grace of Christ to help us extend to others the same mercy He gives us. If we found people on our lists that we had an especially difficult time forgiving, we took the Savior’s counsel to pray for their welfare, asking all the blessings for them that we would want for ourselves (see Matthew 5:44).
Are you willing to forgive, with the Lord’s help?
Do you see how step 6 can be applied to any unwillingness in this area?
Yes, that unwillingness can be part of a character weakness that I need to ask Heavenly Father to help me remove.
Will you use the tool of praying for those you resent if trouble forgiving arises?
As we prayed for help to forgive others—even if it felt insincere at first—we were eventually blessed with a miraculous sense of compassion. Even in extreme situations, people who have taken this approach have received the ability to forgive far beyond themselves. One sister spent several weeks writing about her childhood and praying for her abusive father. She testifies with joy that the Savior has relieved her of her negative, painful feelings toward her father. In making a similar effort, we have learned that by making a thorough inventory of our resentments and acknowledging them to the Savior, we finally ceased to be victims of those who hurt us. Once we honestly attempted to let go of offenses toward us, we found we were able to finish our lists of those we hoped would forgive us.
As you reach this point and begin your list, you should pray for guidance from the Lord. These guidelines may help. Ask yourself, “Is there anyone in my life, past or present, who I feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or ashamed around?” Write down their names, and resist the temptation to justify your feelings or excuse your negative actions toward them. Include those you meant to hurt, of course, and also those you did not intend to hurt. Include those who have passed away and those you have no idea how to contact. You will deal with these special cases when you take step 9. For now, as you work through step 8, focus on your willingness to be rigorous and unrelenting in your honesty.
To be thorough, look for things you neglected to do or things you left undone that hurt others. Don’t leave out little things. Think honestly about the harm you caused others as you indulged in your addiction, even if you were not aggressive toward them. Admit the harm you did to loved ones and friends by being irresponsible, irritable, critical, impatient, and dishonorable. Look for anything large or small that added to another person’s burdens or that saddened or challenged someone. Look for lies you told or promises you broke and ways you manipulated or used others. List everyone who was affected. You may find your step 4 inventory a useful guide in this process.
In making your step 8 list, you will take the names from all 4 of your step 4 inventories including negative feelings, fears, sexual and other harms, agreed?
In addition, you will add any other people that you need to become reconciled with, agreed?
Finally, after you have listed everyone you have harmed, add one more name to the list—your own. When you indulged in your addictions, you harmed yourself as well as others.
Can you see how staying abstinent and seeking recovery, you have already begun making amends to yourself and others?
Yes, I feel this, especially because, in this inventory, the main person I realized I’ve been hurting for so long is my wife. I feel that in the past inventory I did, I didn’t really even realize I’d been hurting her. I’m grateful for this realization today.
As you work, remember that step 8 is not an exercise in casting guilt or shame on anyone—either yourself or those on your lists. The Savior will lift the burdens of guilt and shame as you take one more honest look at troubles in your relationships and your part in them. By becoming willing to make amends, you benefit from the peace of knowing that Heavenly Father is pleased with your efforts. This step helps you take the actions that enable the Savior to set you free from your past. Being willing, you become ready to take step 9.
What are the obstacles, if any, to your becoming willing to make amends?
I think the main obstacle is just knowing for sure how to make a plan and then following that plan. I’m willing to make amends and have a clean slate with myself and with others.
Forgive yourself and others; make a list of people you might have offended or harmed
In step 8, you begin an amazing adventure in relating with a new heart to yourself, to others, and to life. You are ready to contribute peace to the world rather than add contention and negative feelings. You are willing to give up judging anyone unrighteously and to stop taking inventory of others’ lives and faults. You are ready to stop minimizing your own behavior or making excuses for it. You are willing to take another thorough inventory—this time of those you have harmed.
Have all the previous steps prepared you for the life described in this paragraph? Explain how.
I believe so, yes. I’m grateful that I’ve had to become willing to admit that my life has been unmanageable. I’m grateful to learn about hope and about trusting in God. I’m grateful to have completed my inventory and have shared it with my sponsor. This step seems like the natural segway into full recovery and restitution for the things I’ve done, both to myself and to others.
Although you may be terrified to consider it, you can become willing to meet the people on your list when the opportunity arises. You can prepare to do all you can to make amends to them. You can live by faith in the Lord, not in fear of what others might do. You can become willing in step 8 to live a life guided by principles rather than by shame or fear.
Do you see that you have been prepared for this step and have been given everything you need? Explain how.
Yes, I feel prepared for this step. I feel willing and ready to do whatever Heavenly Father wants me to do today. I’ve felt this in the past too, I think, but this time is different since I now have a clearer perspective of where I am today and what I need to do in order to submit my will to God fully.
Will you apply it?
Yes, I will apply what I’ve learned and look forward to taking this step.
Seek the gift of charity; pray for others
For thousands of years, people have read Paul’s great discourse on charity and tried to model their lives after it. Many have struggled to have charity and have often fallen woefully short of doing so.
The writings of the prophet Mormon clarify what charity is and how to obtain it. He defined charity as “the pure love of Christ” and taught that the Father gives it to those who “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart” and to “all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moroni 7:47, 48).
Charity is a gift we receive as we learn to follow Jesus Christ and as we love Him with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Filled with this pure love from Him and for Him, we find ourselves able to love others as He has loved us. We become able to forgive the faults of others and to make amends for our mistakes.
In preparation for making amends, many of us have found the following exercise helpful. Think of someone for whom you have had hard feelings. For two weeks, deliberately kneel and pray for him or her each day. Keep a record of changes in your thoughts and feelings about that person. (See Matthew 22:37–38; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:19; Moroni 7:44–48.)
Again, will you apply the tool of praying for someone you are struggling to forgive?
Yes, I will apply this tool of praying for someone that I’m struggling to forgive.
Does anyone in particular come to mind? Who?
I don’t know, maybe Ethan W, maybe my parents. I currently feel pretty willing to forgive everyone on the list I’d created. I’ll look forward to reviewing it thought.
Will you report back on your progress with this issue?
Yes, I will.