Makin’ a List and Making Amends
June 5th 2016
Step 8 Made a list of all the persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Scriptures: 2 Samuel 12:1- 7, 13; Matthew 5:23-24
Step 9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Scriptures: Proverbs 25:11-12, Luke 15:19
I’m makin’ a list and checking it twice… Seein’ to whom I’ve been naughty or nice …
Oh boy! Welcome to step 8. Alas, it doesn’t get easier as you go along. Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Christians aren’t perfect, they are just forgiven”? Ya, well that doesn’t cut it in the real world. Jesus may forgive us, but it’s not just Jesus that we’ve hurt. We remain somehow bound to the very people we want nothing to do with!
We learn to heal the wounds of others by knowing and remembering how much it hurts to hurt. I expect that had Nathan gone to King David and confronted him with `What’s this I hear about you having an affair with Bathsheba and arranging to have her husband die in battle,’ that David would have found some bizarre way of justifying his behaviour. Instead, Nathan tells David a story, a story of a rich man who had so much, and a poor neighbour who had only one little lamb. The rich man stole and killed the lamb to feed his guest. King David’s own sense of fairness and justice comes to the forefront, and he demands the punishment of the rich man. `You are the man’, Nathan tells him. David realizes he’s been found out and knows that he must make amends.
In our humanness, those we have hurt often just need to talk it through, hear our understanding and maybe our sincere apology. Usually they need to offer their understanding of the situation and how it hurt them. Neither side needs to accuse or defend, but just state the facts as we remember them, and be open to hear what the other needed, heard, or felt. p70. When you listen to someone’s hurt, and offer genuine sorrow at their suffering, it can be profoundly healing.
Step 8 as I said at the beginning is terribly difficult if you too have been hurt. I’ve had to catch myself over and over as I write to remind myself it says, make a list of the people YOU have harmed, not the people who have harmed YOU.
But there is no quick fix. Rohr says, `…we all need to do some clean-up work inside. For humans, there is only a slow softening of the heart, a gradual lessening of our attachment to our hurts, our victimhood as a past identity, or any need to punish or humiliate others.’ He acknowledges “…it might take a long time to “become willing” to make amends, and this is why some people go to Step 8 meetings for years.”
But step 8 helps rewrite the old script about making a list of people who have harmed us to making a list of people we have harmed. The new script, the new vantage point, has grace, rather that vengeance at the centre. And God will help us. Remember, we learned two weeks ago that we need to ask for help in doing this. And as Rohr says, “God is humble and never comes if not first invited, but God will find some clever way to get invited.” So, I’d like to share with you an example of God’s clever way…
Several years ago I went to Epiphany Explorations in Victoria, and attended Cordova Bay United Church for Sunday worship. This was the congregation that had been so supportive to my former husband (the father of my children) and I, when we were studying at U. Vic. We were at the ripe old age of 23 and 22 years old respectively, when we first went to Cordova Bay, and were soon leading the congregational youth group. In that group there was a brilliant 13 year old musician by the name of Ross Taggart. I’ve kept in touch with his mother all these years, but had only rarely heard little snippets of Ross on CBC radio. When I got to church that morning, the minister told me I had just missed Ross Taggart’s funeral. It had been held there the day before. This talented lovely man had died of kidney cancer at age 45. I never knew he was ill. I cried on Jim’s shoulder through much of the rest of the service.
From there, Jim and I had brunch with a great group of friends from U. Vic. days. Someone at the gathering asked about my former husband (was-band) and I said, I really hadn’t spoken to him, and wasn’t keen to, although I knew he was attending Epiphany Explorations too. We do share two wonderful children, but that’s about where the `wonderful’ ends.
But guess what, as I was driving out of the downtown parking lot that night after the late session, I saw him walking toward his car and I was moved by a strange and unexpected sensation – I think it could be called `compassion.’
When I went to the Monday workshop, oh dear, he was there again. At the coffee break, I found myself standing in the hallway, alone, and he was walking toward me and I found myself saying, “Pretty fine workshop, eh’ or some other less than hostile phrase. And we found ourselves in an actual non- confrontational conversation. I felt a softening of my heart and I shared with him the sad news of Ross Taggart’s death. We both got teary-eyed there in the hallway and to my great surprise I found myself blurting out “I’m tired of being angry at you; may I give you a hug?” Oh my, where did that come from!? We hugged and cried and even laughed a bit. It wasn’t me apologizing to him, or him apologizing to me – but it was a deeply spiritually healing step for both of us…
I first felt strong enough to share this story three years ago, on a Friday. The very next day, I woke up to the radio at 6:30 AM Saturday morning to CBC – with the radio host playing a clip of jazz music. The announcer said, “That was from the late Ross Taggart’s great jazz concert from last June.” Ross was world class on piano and saxophone, and there he was tickling the ivories four months after his death. God is humble and never comes if not first invited, but God will find some clever way to get invited.” God finds clever ways…. Thank you God, and thank you Ross, in life after death, for being a channel for healing. Amen.
p.s. Check out Ross Taggart Jazz