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.
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 individ- uals 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.
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 some- one. A spirit of humility and a feeling of honesty can repair damaged relationships when you make reason- able 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 remem- ber. 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.
Apologizing for some actions can be particularly chal- lenging. 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 righteous- ness 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.
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 post- pone meeting with him or her. To overcome negative feelings, you could pray for charity and to see the per- son 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.
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 rela- tionships 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 recog- nize 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 diffi- cult 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 under- standing, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
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.)
Be willing to do what is necessary to make amends
In taking step 9, you must avoid becoming discour- aged 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.
Study and Understanding
The following scriptures and statements from Church leaders may help you in taking step 9. Use these scriptures and questions for meditation, study, and writing. Be honest and specific in your writing.
- Influencing others for good
- Persuasion or compulsion
- Preparing to meet God
- Activity in the Church
- Willing restitution
- The intents of your heart
- What the Savior can do for you