Summary: Step 8 focuses on our making of list of those we have hurt during our addiction and being willing to make amends.
Twelve Steps To Recovery Part 8
To date in this series we have discussed the first seven steps in the twelve steps to recovery process. We began by admitting that we were powerless over our dependencies and that there was a God greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. After reaching that point, in step three we made the decision to turn our lives over to the care of God, a conscious choice that was made freely. In steps four and five we took a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and came to the point of understanding our addictions and confessing them to ourselves, God and to another trusted individual. In step six, after recognizing our addictions for what they were, we came to the point where we were ready to have God remove them and in step seven we humbly asked God to do just that – remove all of our shortcomings. As I mentioned last week, step seven was the bridge from our focus on our inner self to now focusing outward, addressing the impact our addictions have had on others. Step eight involves our making a list of those persons that we have harmed through our addictions and be willing to make amends to them when possible. I know that in some cases we may not be able to make amends and that when we can, it may not be received. In either situation, you must continue to move forward in your recovery, So let’s start with the Scriptural basis for making restitutions.
I. Making Restitutions
It has been proven that dysfunctional family situations affect each person differently. For some individuals they take on the act that they are irresponsible and constantly condemn themselves for it. Others admit that they are irresponsible but they blame others for their behavior taking on none of the responsibility for their actions. Then there are those of us who have not recognized our irresponsible behavior yet we are constantly facing recurring problems with others because we fail to respect them or their property. In this step, we begin to list all of those who have been hurt by us and think through what can be done to make amends. In the Old Testament, when someone was harmed by someone else, the Law required that restitution be made. Consider the following from Exodus 22:10-15 which reads “Now supposed someone leaves a donkey, ox, sheep, or any other animal with a neighbor for safekeeping, but it dies or is injured or gets away, and no one sees what happened. The neighbor must then take an oath in the presence of the Lord. If the Lord confirms that the neighbor did not steal the property, the owner must accept the verdict, and no payment will be required. But if the animal was indeed stolen, the guilty person must pay compensation to the owner. If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, the remains of the carcass must be shown as evidence, and no compensation will be required. If someone borrows an animal from a neighbor and it is injured or dies when the owner is absent, the person who borrowed it must pay full compensation. But if the owner was present, no compensation is required. And no compensation is required if the animal was rented, for the loss is covered by the rental fee.”
There are several thins we need to note from this Scripture and it all goes back to accountability. On our road to recovery, we must become accountable for our actions, especially those that injure others. In the verses we just read, God gave examples for the Children of Israel to follow. The guidelines went like this: if someone left their pet with you for safekeeping, if the pet dies, is injured or get away without anyone witnessing it, you become responsible to the owner and must make restitution unless it was confirmed by God that you had nothing to do with it. If, however, it was witnessed, then based on the circumstances if you had nothing to do with it, no restitution was required. If you borrowed a tool from a neighbor and while it was in your possession it got broken, you are required to pay them the fair market value for the tool or just purchase them a new one. In our daily living, we do this almost naturally, especially when we are dealing with something that we borrowed from someone. If something belongs to someone else and it gets broken while we are using it, we will generally offer to replace it. Yeah I know there are some people who would not, but the average, righteous living Christian would.
Now, although we would gladly replace any item we borrowed from a neighbor that was broken by us, we often cannot find the strength to do this when we are facing our addictions. The emotion and mental damage that we may have caused is not easily replaced. You cannot go out and buy a new mental or emotional state although many try to do this with legal and non-legal drugs. The pain that we inflict while we are addicted can run deep and in some cases cause almost irreparable damage. However, our first step, and possibly the first step for those we injured, is to recognize that we did in fact injure them and ask their forgiveness. The fact that we recognize that we have hurt them and our willingness to go to them to ask forgiveness does not guarantee that we will receive it. Even if we do not receive the forgiveness, we must still take the steps necessary to ask for it. God’s word teaches us that we are to be responsible and accountable. Even if we make it through this life without being so, when we stand before God, we will be. We will take full ownership for our actions here on earth so it is a good idea to start now. As you are thinking abut your list and how you can begin to make amends to those you’ve harmed, consider what God has done for us. When Christ died on the cross, He took on our sins so that we would not have to bear the consequences of them. He became our Scapegoat. Let me explain.