This is the first of a series of monthly articles on each of the Twelve Steps, Catholic faith and the Calix Society. This article has been contributed by Jim R, Minnesota, how to do Step 9, with guidance from the New Testament.
Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
“therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old is gone and the new is here” —2 Corinthians 5:17
A time for change: the dictionary defines amend to “put right” and to “change for the better.”
Seems simple enough. Keep it that way. Step 9 works to make you a better person and works to eliminate emotional barriers to sustained sobriety. This step can be managed by keeping three concepts or tools in mind.
Before the three – A critical foundation for step 9 work – you need a sound Step 4 inventory and Step 8 list. Be “painstaking” as Bill W states in Alcoholics Anonymous. Do that before you embark on step 9. Having done that, you are ready.
1. Serenity- use the Serenity prayer and seek God’s guidance fervently in this step. You must accept no control or have courage to change.
- You can accept by doing amend even if you feel someone doesn’t deserve an amend or you feel frustration/anger towards them. You can’t change their past behavior, personality or control their reaction. Nor should you expect or be owed a reaction.
- You can have courage to change by doing an amend that doesn’t suit your personality or style. Example: “I am uncomfortable with a face to face or writing an email/letter…on touchy topics. “ Summon Serenity to give you strength to change that.
- Have the serenity to be patient in doing them. They may take time and the right environment. It cannot be hurried or done just to “check the box”. Work with your sponsor and others who have step 9 experience.
2. Simple – keep it simple and straightforward as best you can. Just state the facts without commentary. Example: “I did this and it hurt you. I am acknowledging the wrong to you.” Avoid extra clutter or needless justification/explanation. Doing step 9 can be challenging, don’t make it more so. Lean on sponsor/others for various methods to do them.
3. Sorry – Resist reliance on its use. The word is excessively and needlessly used in most communication. How many times have we in the depths of our disease used this term only to revert to our behavior again and again? Consider using the “AA” letters – Acknowledge and Admit your wrongs. (Note that step 10 requires regular “admission” of wrongs).
Note that separate from step 9 – between yourself and God, you confess your sins, express sorrow, and seek his forgiveness. He will give it to you as you are a child of God, and loved without condition by Him.
Doing Step 9 work is an ongoing journey and one that bears spiritual fruit time and time again.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will be changed.”—1 Corinthians 15:11
fine article, Jim.
Jesus lifts our alcoholism or addiction when we rightly relate our actions to God. It requires a free will choice out of the pain that drives us to change. The 4 basic elements are asking for help, self examination shared with another, making restitution to those we harmed and helping others to do the same. For 30 plus years this was not called a disease. Apparently God got it wrong, a spiritual solution to a spiritual malady and the world got it right, a disease. Yet everything I read tells me disease is a theory to profit off insurance and lift a stigma. Matter of fact it’s God who got it right, the spirit rules the mind to rule the body or the body rules the mind and enslaves us. We do things we never intended when the body rules us. This is the burden of self in the third step prayer. It’s the root of sin, trusting in me which is in our nature. I can’t find anyone who will listen. Done this work for 10 years living by Divine providence and had people embrace the Church alone get sober. I challenge anyone to show me where I am wrong knowing we are all capable of error. Jesus didn’t die for disease. No one ever got sober except through the cross of Christ. Repent (change and rightly relate your self to God) and by my cross I will set you free ( the grace of God His precious blood) Know the truth and live it!
G’Day Jim. Thank- you for the post. I am commenting because Bob encouraged those present at a CALIX meeting to get involved, and I think it is good to get involved and make things happen. I found this difficult to understand: “You must accept you have no control or have the courage to change”, but when I reread I understood. It means “you must accept that you have not control, or at least have the courage to change your attitude so that you realise that you cannot control”.
The post made me think about what older sober members used to say: “It’s not the old life polished up, but a totally new life”.
I would recommend people do NOT make amends via email, as written words are a legal record. Writing stuff out is therapeutic which is good, however, emails are often misinterpreted.
Two other things: Apologising is a good start, but it should (in my view) be accompanied by an offer to do something to make restitution. Words are cheap sometimes. Also, amends should never be at the expense of someone else (“except when to do so would injure them or others”); it should not be for our own improvement although that is a great outcome, because there are problems with “the human potential movement” which have been referred to in the Vatican Document ‘Jesus Christ Bearer and Water of Life’.
God Bless you and thank you for the post.