Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
When making our moral inventory in Step 4, part of that list had to include other people in our lives, our family, friends and acquaintances.
We were examining our own lives. Maybe one of the points on the list was that my drug use hurt my kids. Ok, the kids are on my list. Who else? Now we are examining our lives from a social perspective.
Preparing to Make Amends
This is a preparatory step. We are making the list, and then we have to go through a period of self-examination to prepare ourselves to make the necessary amends.
The list is a record of the persons we have harmed through our addictive behavior. Under the influence of addiction we might have treated people badly, stolen from them, or perhaps even physically harmed them.
Step Eight is a preparatory step that is really focused on others.
This preparatory step is really focused on others, as we try to understand and fully experience how we have harmed others. We want to understand from their perspective exactly how our behavior has led to a breakdown of the relationship, how we have inflicted pain on them and how we may proceed with the relationship moving forward.
If you think about it, it’s actually a difficult step, as we prepare to face those we’ve abused, harmed or alienated.
Perhaps we are harboring bad feelings towards somebody, as a result of our addictive behavior. Someone might have been concerned about you and tried to reach out, but that effort was misinterpreted as being hostile or threatening. We do things and we say things in defense of our behavior.
After all, the addict is not wrong, everybody else is. Relationships, even loving ones, break down because the addiction has caused too much distance to take shape. We let people slip away in order to satisfy our need for the drug. The drug has become more important. People become objects and we can toss them away or ignore them.
Step Eight Sets Stage for Next Step
The next step (Step 9) in the process is actually making those amends, and is very closely related to this step. However, like Step 4 is necessary for Step 5, if we can successfully work through Step 8, the next step becomes possible. It deals with our own attitude and our own willingness to make amends.
If you’re in court and the judge orders you to pay restitution for something you have done against another person, the action might even be easier because you’ve been told to take action.
In Step 8, you are the one who makes the list for restitution, and because you’ve been working the steps your list is complete and honest.
But you are the one who has to take action. Others may encourage you, or prompt you, but you are the one who has to say,
“I have done ‘this’ to you and I would like to make up for it.”
In the criminal justice system, when they bring prisoners face-to-face with their victims, it can be a very difficult and emotional meeting. It can also be very therapeutic. But the meeting requires preparation. I know what I need to do, but I need to prepare for it.
Forgiveness is Just as Important
If someone has harmed us this step is likewise necessary to prepare our hearts to forgive others. Forgiveness is an interesting human experience. I may need to forgive somebody for something they do to me, but they may want no part of my forgiveness. Does that mean I don’t forgive them? Certainly not.
I’m the one carrying the resentment, the same, the guilt and that needs to be processed. If I am going to be forgiven for all that I have done as a result of my addiction, I must also be willing to forgive others who may have harmed me.
A couple of passages from the Gospel of Matthew help to illustrate this point. In Matthew 6:14-15, the writer instructs:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
In the next chapter he follows with an admonition:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
The hard part is being honest, being complete and being willing to follow through to the next step. Cleansing of the soul is never easy. Step Nine:
Once you have completed Step 8 go to Step 9.