Step 9 is all about reconciliation with those we had harmed from the list we made in Step 8. The purpose is not to explain or describe our side of things. The purpose is to admit those wrongs we have committed, offer a sincere apology and make restitution wherever possible. Do not argue with the person or criticize them, even if their response is negative. Approach each person in a spirit of humility, offering reconciliation, not justification.
At the beginning of starting these 12 Steps this one stands out above all the others as very scary. Many of us never follow through with this step so we never fully recover from whatever our affliction. Nor do we achieve the closeness with the Lord that we could have if we had stuck it out. We never have the weight of these burdens lifted.
The reason some quit abruptly at this step, too afraid or too proud to face those they wronged, is because the previous eight steps were never thoroughly worked. If we have truly let go of our flawed past, gave our character defects over to God, humbled and forgave ourselves then we would understand it doesn’t matter how the other person reacts to our amends. We know we are doing what the Lord requires of us and trying our best to make right our wrongs.
Ever notice how humble people don’t have a problem apologizing for wrongdoing?
Not everyone will react kindly. I had a family member refuse to accept my amends but I couldn’t let that deter me from the path I was on. I knew I was doing right and her anger, resentment, inability to forgive (always keeping score) and feelings of superiority stems from who knows what long ago and runs deep. I realized those were HER issues so, needless to say, she is no longer in my life. Sadly, with a person like that it makes my life much more peaceful this way.
“…except when to do so would injure them or others.”
There may be times when making an amends will be painful for the other person or even harmful. If you think that might be the case, discuss the situation with a person you trust before proceeding. Preferably someone that has worked the steps. Probably the person we made our confession to back in Step 5. This part of recovery must never lead to the further harm of others.
I believe this part tends to do with lust. It would definitely make your spouse heartsick if they knew you cheated on them. Especially if they think you are happily married. Also, say you slept with your friend’s spouse. You may be single but what you did was still wrong. Telling your friend will probably ruin their marriage (and definitely your friendship-which you would deserve by the way).
Scripture says in Matthew 5, ” ……go thy way unto thy brother and first be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift.” So, we are not reconciled with God unless we at least try to reconcile with those we have wronged or those we have ought with.
Upon completing Step 9, to the best of our ability, we have done all we can to begin to put ourselves in harmony with the Lord. We have done all we can to heal relationships and become reconciled to others. A huge burden has been lifted! We have gone down into the depths of humility, with the Lord by our side, and survived!
Now we will begin to experience a new life of hope!