The Road to Recovery :: STEP 9

Making Amends

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY, ALIGNed WITH THE yearLY CALENDAR, along with the EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES of Jesus Christ. 

STEP 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar ad there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” ~ Matthew 5:23-23

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Last month in Step 8 we worked on listing the people we need to make amends to. This month we take the next, maybe the most freeing step, and actually make the amends. This is a difficult step but a critical point in our recovery. Without this step we will continue to beat ourselves up and continuing to carry more shame and guilt which could be the driving force to possible relapse.

The *Celebrate Recovery program is full of beautiful acrostics that help flesh out the work of each step. Each letter in the acrostic helps us make the next important step in the process of making our amends. Take some time to sit with the acrostic. Read it. Meditate on it. Journal how you can apply each letter’s step to your life as you prepare to make your amends.

A — Admit the hurt and the harm ~ Holding on to old resentments blocks our recovery and God’s forgiveness in our lives.
M — Make a list ~ Not worrying about how we will make the amends we simple list the people we have hurt.
E —  Encourage one another ~ It’s important to meet with our sponsor or accountability partner beforehand to practice making our amends.
N —  NOT for them ~ Without excuses or justifying our actions we make our amends humbly, honestly, sincerely and willingly. We focus on our part only.
D — Do it at the right time ~ Before making our amends we should pray for God’s guidance, direction and perfect timing.
S  —  Start living the promises of recovery ~ Embracing true freedom from our past we are now ready to receive God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Remember, the recovery process is not meant to be worked alone! Reach out to your sponsor or accountability partners to assist you. If you’re not in a 12 Step program please click here to find a CR group near you.

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE to watch our Road to Recovery theme song.

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible 
*Celebrate Recovery Leadership Guide


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Originally published September 4, 2013

Crutches

What carries you through the day?

 

 

29381594 - vector silhouettes of people walking on crutches.

What does your crutch look like?

 

  • A bottle of liquor
  • An Internet site
  • A pack of cigarettes
  • A case of beer
  • A trip to the mall
  • A box of donuts
  • A pot of coffee
  • A bottle of pills
  • A pack of cards
  • A sharp blade
  • A binge/purge session
  • A one night stand

What do you think about when you first wake up? On your way home?

 Do you think about how fast you can get your crutch because you can’t stand walking with this pain by yourself any longer?

We’re afraid to walk without our crutch because it will be too painful. And it is too painful, if we try to do it alone.

It’s better to walk with a painful limp with God’s help and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, than to walk without God using our crutch to numb the pain.

When we take our mind off ourselves, by helping others who are walking with the same painful limp that we have, we almost forget we need a crutch.

In time we grow stronger, our muscles learn new ways of walking and we aren’t in as much pain.

One day we will be pain free.

 

Image Credit: majivecka / 123RF Stock Photo

Painful Obedience

 

Perseverance3

God has asked me to give up something and honestly I’m not at all happy about it. However, I know if I don’t obey the consequences could be severe, maybe even irreversible. 


So I have no choice but to trust God’s will as I press through the pain. 


The most difficult challenge is that while giving up this habit / behavior I’m living in an environment where I see it every day. 


No matter how tough,  it’s vital that I intentionally keep a good attitude expecting God’s blessing on the other side of this mountain.  

If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs. ~ Isaiah 1:19-20 MSG

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Doubt vs Belief

believe

STEP TWO: 

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 


It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously struggled with unbelief. For some reason in this season of life I have strong faith that God can change external situations: relationships, living conditions, etc…  But I have doubts when it comes to the complete change of my own emotional and physical weaknesses.

In my readings today I’m encouraged to let go of my emotional crutches for happiness. Through prayer and meditation I can reduce the obstacles I’ve set up against God’s presence in my innermost being. 

In this way I will come closer to peace and healing.


RESOURCES:
Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr
Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps by Thomas Keating

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12 Principles of Recovery :: MEANING

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS. WE’RE ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP US LEARN THESE CORE VALUES SO WE CAN PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE. 

life purpose

STEP ELEVEN
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

PRINCIPLE ELEVEN
Meaning

KEY QUESTION
What is the purpose of my life?

These days life seems to be so complicated and stressful. One day I think I have my purpose and meaning figured out, then something happens and I’m confused all over again. 

Life is full of loose ends, uncertainty, confusion and frustration. Yet nothing is wasted or random or pointless. Everything that happens is nourishing compost for our spiritual and emotional growth. It is in the midst of the messiness of life that we often find meaning or, sometimes, that meaning finds us. ~ Patrick Carnes* 

In a life of recovery we must learn to accept the bad with the good.  If we can find our anchor in God and the beautiful things in life, we will find it easier to be less reactive when struggles come.

We can find meaning in our life by reflecting on times when we felt most affirmed and valued. The challenge here is recognizing these feelings and their situations. There may have been times when we were being affirmed but were unaware.

A daily spiritual practice is vitally important.  By starting or ending our day with a meditative/prayerful time of reflection. In the morning we can start by setting our intentions for the day. In the evening we examine how caring, loving or supportive we were this particular day.

When we find an activity or person that brought us special meaning this will show us where we may want to devote more time in the future. In doing this we will discover what gives us value and purpose in our life. 

What gives our life meaning today may not give us meaning tomorrow. But when we look at the core values of some activities or situations we may find a common denominator that can bring more clarity.

When life seems to be going at lightning speed and we covered in stress dust that’s the time to stop and notice what made us happy yesterday.  When we do, we can see God balances our life messes and challenges with sweetness and beauty. 

In those sweet beautiful times we’ll find our life purpose and meaning. 


RESOURCES: 
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes*


Image credit: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

RECOVERY REDEFINED

In the addiction community RECOVERY is related to our ability to obtain or maintain sobriety from our drug of choice.  Today I want to talk about recovery as a human being not just about struggles with substance addiction.

recovery:   

1. the regaining of something lost or taken away.

2. return to any former and better state or condition.

 

Let’s begin by stating that everyone is addicted to something. Whether or not we are aware of it or are willing to admit it, we all have something on which we lean in times of loneliness, stress or crisis. 

Socially acceptable addictions: TV, Internet, work, shopping, games…

Not socially acceptable addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, gambling, food…

No matter which category we fall in we are all seeking a pain killer, something that will take us out of this painful reality in which we live day to day.
 
When we’re born our spirit comes to this human form where God allows us to learn the lessons that will prepare us for our eternal life with Him. I believe our spirit is on a continual search for that heavenly realm away from this painful earthly life. Because we are in this human form with its physical desires, that so often get us in trouble, when we do find our pleasure centers we often decide to live there.
Looking at the definition for recovery above, I believe when we are seeking various pain relievers, our personal pleasures or “drugs of choice” we are in essence trying to return to our former and better state of life: heaven.
It’s not so much about removing the negative as it is about putting in more of the positive. When we focus on the negative it sometimes draws us there. It’s important that we not focus on pushing out the bad but rather focus on filling in with positive things; keeping the good front and center. 
 
The filling and refilling starts the process of recovery. Notice I said the process of recovery. RECOVERY isn’t a state that we will attain on this earth. It will only come when we are freed of this human form and in the heavenly realm with our Holy Father. 

Who will rescue me from this body that is taking me to death? Thanks be to God, who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ! ~ Romans 7:24-25

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12 Principes of Recovery :: TRUST

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS. WE’RE ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP US LEARN THESE CORE VALUES SO WE CAN PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE. 


STEP TEN
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

PRINCIPLE TEN
TRUST

KEY QUESTION:
How do I live not knowing outcomes?


As I write this column my husband’s youngest brother is fighting for his life in ICU. My husband is in job transition and we are looking for a new place to live.

If there was ever a season of uncertain outcomes it is now. 

Recovering addicts don’t like the unknown. We want to have a plan or at least something that resembles a plan. But most of life is handed to us on a blank sheet of paper. 

Seemingly we are left to find our own direction.

Without the help of God it would be very easy to curl up and stop caring. It takes determination to get out of bed, put each foot in front of the other and try to do the next right thing.

Principle Ten asks us to Trust. 

Can we trust ourselves to do the next right thing? 
Can we trust others to accept us even if we don’t?

Change has gotten easier with age. But today I’m struggling through the uncertainty. 





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The 12 Principles :: RESPONSIVENESS


MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS; ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 






STEP NINE

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 


PRINCIPLE NINE
Responsiveness


KEY QUESTION: 
What is integrity?








“As our recovery deepens, responsibility grows into responsiveness. Spiritual intelligence unfolds into spiritual integrity.  Making amends expands into mending the world.” ~Patrick Carnes


Most addicts have a history of being reactive rather than responsive especially to situations of change. Thankfully at this stage of our recovery we are aware of the effects our decisions and actions have on those around us. We have taken the focus off ourselves and are more interested in helping others.

The one thing in life we can be certain of is change. When we are responsive we adjust quickly, and easily to changing external conditions. Being responsive prevents regret and that starts by doing today what we will be happy with tomorrow.

No matter how bad things may look the outcome may end up being for our good. In the reverse, circumstances may be seemingly be great then the winds of change sweep through with a dramatic change that spins our head around.

The challenge here is to not hold on too tight, being adaptive and spiritually flexible while staying true to our greater life purpose. Rather than leaning in to the situation with an emotional reaction, we can lean back, watch and wait; checking for any positive action needed on our part. If none is necessary we surrender to the moment and wait for change to come again. And it certainly will. 

KEY QUESTION: What is integrity?

in-te-gri-ty:  an undivided or unbroken completeness; moral soundness

When walking in our addictions our moral soundness was severely lacking. This is one thing that is most important to me as I continue the recovery journey. I don’t ever want to hurt the ones I love again. 


A life that exhibits integrity is crucial. There’s no turning back now!


RESOURCES: 
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes ** 

12 Principles of Recovery :: COMMITMENT

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS; ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 




STEP EIGHT:

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

PRINCIPLE EIGHT:
Commitment

KEY QUESTION:
How am I responsible?






Searching the Internet for images that convey the word “commitment” brought multiple pics of marriage proposals. Strangely enough I had much difficulty finding images which displayed the concept of commitment…

So I went to the dictionary and found the words: Pledge, Promise and Obligation. All of these words are hard to put into a visual image. They must be lived out.
As addicts living in addiction we knew about commitment. We were committed to finding our next fix. We would go to great lengths to get it, pushing others aside and often leaving destruction in our wake.
Now the recovery life challenge is to take that same determined commitment and turn it around for the purpose of our health and personal relationships.
If we break down the dictionary definition words from above: pledge, promise and obligation, we see words that imply a personal decision, thought processes, words spoken, documents signed, physical actions taken. 
The idea of commitment isn’t to be taken lightly. Though as addicts it’s sometimes difficult to grasp and maintain the seriousness of it within ourselves.

The key question asks: How am I responsible?


Am I responsible to keep boundaries in place so my triggers don’t snap?

Am I responsible to be honest with myself, friends and partners when I am weak and struggling?


Am I response-able?
My recovery-abled response: Pause and then do the next right thing!



RESOURCES: 
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes ** 

12 Principles of Recovery :: COURAGE

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS; ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 

The 12 Steps are rules to memorize The 12 Principles are ingredients to a healthy life.**


STEP 7

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.


PRINCIPLE 7

Courage


KEY QUESTION

What risks must I take?






Addicts are not strangers to risk. When living in my addiction I do many risky things; often putting others at risk. 



In recovery, our approach to risk changes completely. We learn to consider our risks instead of following our impulses. We consult our inner observer, then consciously choose which risks to take. One day at a time, we become both more courageous and more discerning. ~ Patrick Carnes**

It takes courage to:

  • Get out of bed and face reality each day.
  • Be open and vulnerable in our relationships. 
  • Make amends for our wrong doings. 
  • Have faith for an unknown future. 
  • Process our internal pain and fears.
  • Name and feel the feelings so long numbed.
  • Keep boundaries in place.
  • Do the next right thing.

 What am I risking with my courage?   Pain. Rejection. Uncertainty.

Bottom line: There is no courage without risk.


RESOURCES: 
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes ** 

 Image credit: [Jeanne Provost] © 123RF.com