Day 64 – Step Work
RESTITUTION AND RECONCILIATION
KEY PRINCIPLE: Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
As we moved on to step 9, we were ready to seek forgiveness. Like the repentant sons of Mosiah who went about “zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done” (Mosiah 27:35), we desired to make amends. Still, as we faced step 9, we knew we could not carry out our desires unless God blessed us with His Spirit. We needed courage, good judgment, sensitivity, prudence, and appropriate timing. These were not qualities that most of us possessed at that time. We realized that step 9 would once more test our willingness to humble ourselves and seek the help and grace of the Lord.
Will you apply this counsel as you take the action of step 9?
I will. I am already thinking about making amends and what I will need to do to appropriately ask forgiveness and forgive.
Do you have faith that God will bless you to carry out step 9?
I do. When I worked on the inventory before, I felt good about making amends. However, this time I want to make sure I complete the step and not leave things up in the air, which happened last time.
Because of our experiences in this challenging process, we offer a few suggestions. It is very important that you are not impulsive or careless as you attempt to make amends. It is equally important that you do not procrastinate making amends. Many recovering individuals have relapsed when they allowed fear to keep them from doing step 9. Pray for the Lord’s guidance and consult with a trusted adviser for help to avoid these pitfalls.
Will you work out a “plan of action” with your sponsor for making your amends responsibly and in a timely manor?
I will and I like having this help and accountability. I didn’t have this before and I did relapse, drastically, because of it I believe. I’m excited to make a plan of action on how to go about making amends the best way.
Sometimes you may be tempted to avoid meeting with a person on your list. We recommend, however, that you resist this temptation, unless, of course, a legal restriction keeps you from meeting with someone. A spirit of humility and a feeling of honesty can repair damaged relationships when you make reasonable efforts to meet in person. Let people know you are approaching them to make amends. Respect their wishes if they indicate they would rather not discuss the matter. If they give you the chance to apologize, be brief and specific about the situation you remember. Details are not necessary. The purpose is not to explain or describe your side of things. The purpose is to admit those wrongs you have committed, offer an apology, and make restitution wherever possible. Do not argue with people or criticize them, even if their response is not favorable or accepting. Approach each person in a spirit of humility, offering reconciliation, never justification.
Become familiar with this paragraph and follow its suggestions closely, agreed?
Yes, agreed. I will review it, potentially each time I approach someone to make amends.
Apologizing for some actions can be particularly challenging. For example, you may have to address matters that could have legal repercussions, such as dishonesty or serious sexual sin. You may be tempted to overreact or to make excuses and avoid making amends. You should prayerfully seek ecclesiastical or professional counsel before taking any action in these very serious cases.
In other cases, you may have no way of making amends directly. The person may be dead, or you may not be able to discover where he or she lives. In such cases, you can still make amends indirectly. You can write the person a letter expressing your regret and desire for reconciliation, even if the letter cannot be delivered. You can give a gift to the person’s favorite charity. You can find someone who reminds you of that person and do something to help him or her. Or you may be able to do something to help a member of the family anonymously.
There may be times when approaching another person or seeking to provide restitution is painful for that person or even harmful. If you think that might be the case, discuss the situation with a trusted adviser before proceeding. This part of recovery must never lead to the further harm of others. Also, at times you may have caused harm that is beyond human ability to repair. Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke of this reality: “Sometimes . . . restitution is not possible in real terms, such as when one contributed to another’s loss of faith or virtue. Instead, a subsequent example of righteousness provides a compensatory form of restitution” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 41; or Ensign, Nov.1991, 31). From the moment you decide to adopt these true principles as your new way of life, you begin to make amends.
All amends, their categorizing and carrying out, will be planned for and discussed with your sponsor in advance, agreed?
Amends must not cause further damage, agreed?
Agreed. I think meeting with “the big mistake” in person or on the phone or even via email will probably not be a good idea for anyone involved.
Amends without permanent sobriety and changed behavior are not amends, understood?
After making amends for most of your past actions, you may still have one or two people you feel like you cannot face. Do not despair. Many of us dealt with the same reality. We recommend you take your feelings to the Lord in honest prayer. If you still have great fear or anger toward an individual, you probably should postpone meeting with him or her. To overcome negative feelings, you could pray for charity and to see the person as the Lord sees him or her. You could look for positive reasons why restitution and reconciliation will help. If you do these things and are patient, the Lord can and will—in His own way and in His own time—give you the ability and the miraculous opportunities to be reconciled to everyone on your list.
We’ll cross this bridge when and if we come to it, we have the tools, agreed?
Upon completing step 9 to the best of your ability, you have finally done all you can to put yourself in harmony with the commandments of the Lord. You have begun to experience a new life of hope—not in yourself but in the love of God. You have gone down into the depths of humility and found the Lord waiting to embrace you. You have done all you can to heal relationships and become reconciled to others. You have at least partially entered into His rest; remaining there has
become your greatest desire. You are learning to recognize and follow personal revelation better, which leads you to live in harmony with the teachings of ancient and modern prophets of God. Even in your most difficult moments, you feel a new kind of peace. You have learned to receive the blessing Paul described when he wrote, “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
Do these promised blessings sound desirable and worth the effort of step 9? Explain.
Yes. I want to have complete peace. I feel it’s there a lot of the time. I want to be humble and open to guidance and direction in my life. I feel I’ve already made amends to some people on my list – especially my wife, but I’m willing to do whatever I need to do in order to completely rid my life of past mistakes, transgressions and sins.
Love others; refrain from judging others; be willing to accept a Church calling and to pay tithes and offerings
In the past, if you were religiously active, you may have been motivated by fear of the judgment of God or of what others would think. Perhaps you acted out of a sense of duty. Today you recognize that service is a way of coming unto Christ. It is a way of expressing love to God. It expresses a continuing need for His power and gratitude for His divine help. Consider whether your activity in the Church is still motivated by fear or duty or if it is a natural outgrowth of your
reborn faith in Christ.
Find ways to serve wherever you are. Become worthy and available to serve in a Church calling or in other ways. As you serve your brothers and sisters and teach them by word and by example, you will share with them His living reality in your life. (See Matthew 25:40; John 13:34–35; John 15:15; Mosiah 2:17.)
What unrighteous motives have you had for your religious activity in the past?
I’ve definitely done things to be seen by others as a certain way. My heart may not have been in things as much, but I did things so others would think I was worthy or righteous or whatever. I don’t want to be this way. I want to do things for the right reasons – because I fear God and want to make Him happy, not my parents, my neighbors, or even my wife.
Do you see this changing? How?
I do I think. I am taking things one day at a time. I am aware of what I’m doing more. I’m conscious of my feelings and motives more. I feel again. I believe I have the Spirit again in my life. All these things contribute to wanting to do things for the right reasons.
Does your recovery make you better able to serve others? How?
I believe so, yes. I’m more willing, I’m more in the moment, and I much, much less about me and what’s in it for me. I want to server others now, especially my wife and kids, without thinking what I should get in return.
This feels so much better.
Be willing to do what is necessary to make amends
In taking step 9, you must avoid becoming discouraged if others do not receive your apologies well or if they do not believe you have really changed. Making amends may take time and patience. Give others time to realize that this time is different. This time you are not making empty promises; you are living to receive a complete remission of your addiction and character weaknesses. Eventually, abstinence and changed behavior will speak for themselves.
This paragraph may be the most important part of this exercise. For our amends to mean anything at all, they must be preceded by solid and sure abstinence, along with changed behavior and attitude. “This time” MUST be different. We must feel “reasonably” confident that this is the case or it will be inappropriate to proceed with step 9.
With this in mind, can you take this step with confidence? Please explain your feelings about this, remembering that you are not alone in this effort…the Lord is with you and you will have His help.
I truly feel I can take this step with confidence. As I think about it, I am wondering if I should go back to my other inventory list and see if there are people I listed there that I never got around to making amends with. I’m pretty sure there are. I’m willing to contact them or add them to my new list so that I can be completely free and ready to take the next steps in recovery.
I’m living today in recovery.
I’m grateful for this feeling.
I’m watching my thoughts, and my words, and my deeds, and am aware of keeping my chin up in public situations.
I’m grateful to be willing to submit my will over to God today.