“But all (12 Step programs) do require a willingness to make amends as fast and as far as may be possible in a given set of conditions.”
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step 9
There’s that word again: Willingness.
The word ‘willingness’ is repeated so often in Step 9 literature that the willingness to make amends seems more important than the amends themselves. This sounds like an odd view to take, but as other books point out amends are not about other people, they are about my ‘side of the street’. We don’t make amends to make other people’s lives better; we make amends to receive healing from our sins.
Of course if I claim I am willing but do not make any amends, it is doubtful that I was ever really willing. It is more likely in such a case that I was lying to myself and rationalizing so I would not have to go through with my amends. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’ve heard it before. Check out James 1:22-25:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the recurrence of the word ‘willingness’ over the past week and what it means to really be ‘willing’ to make amends. At a minimum, I believe it means the willingness:
- To face my fears
- To own my sin; to stop hiding from it
- To grow up; to be a man, not a boy
- To leave behind my childish ways of dealing with problems
- To pay the price for spiritual health in any situation
- To acknowledge my completely sinful nature
- To admit I am human and not perfect
- To be free from shame
Are you willing to be free?