I pulled air in and let it out. This seemed so simple. It also seemed impossible.
What would lie on the other side? Would there would be rejection? Maybe it will just be a bunch of anger.
Could they ever love me the same way they have in the past?
I’ve done amends with three people so far; it’s the central part of the 9th Step of Regeneration. None of them have been easy. The process of actions, thoughts, and questions I described above happened each time.
I was so nervous for one of the amends meetings I left thirty minutes early on accident. I didn’t calm down when I got into the meeting either. It wracks my nerves to stare into someone’s eyes as I explain the sins I’ve committed against them.
As I wrote those words, it occurred to me that some of you might not know what I mean when I say ‘amends’. I’ve got zero problem with that because I am happy to tell you about it. The process of amends start with taking a look back at an earlier step called ‘Inventory’.
In that step, I wrote down all of the ways I’ve hurt people in my life. Some are specific like ‘I broke a friendship.’ Others are a little more general if they represent a pattern of behavior.
For example, many of my harms to others look like ‘I was judgmental towards Gary while we were high school.’ I tend to sin in secretive ways which almost no one can see. Being judgmental, self-righteous, bitter, and addicted to porn all fit into that category.
Those sins led to me experiencing less social consequences on the front end. They also led me to amends conversations which are a little scary. Making amends is about looking at the list of harms done to others and seeking out the people we’ve harmed in order to apologize to them.
This is not what I would call a happy time. It’s tough to come face to face with the people I’ve harmed and talk about those sins. It makes things a little trickier if the person had little to no idea it was happening.
This little voice in my head, not a positive influence mind you, loves to tell me it’s better if I don’t tell those hurt by my sins. It tells me things like ‘the relationships is the best it’s ever been’ or ‘you’ll only hurt them’. The voice is leading me away from owning my sin and the good things God has for me.
Owning my sin, confessing my sin, and asking the ones I’ve hurt for forgiveness is hard. My fear makes me want to run away from the wrongs I committed against those in my past. Staring into the eyes of my victims of self-righteousness, bitterness, and attempted manipulation makes my heart shake in it’s boots.
It also allows me to come face to face with grace. Experiencing grace has been difficult for me over the years because one of my sin patterns is self-righteousness. My tendency is to ignore or minimize my sin while focusing on the good things I’m doing for God.
This sinful approach leads me towards self reliance and gives me few but a few opportunities to experience grace. While my need for grace remains the same as always, my experiences of it have been limited. This is a problem because over time my heart becomes convinced that God’s love for me is based on my performance.
This would be a conditional love and even the idea of conditional love is poisonous in our hearts. It causes me to worry about losing love and I work myself to the bone in response to that worry. Unconditional love on the other hand leads me to rest in it and experience peace.
It also leads me to work as well. The work inspired by unconditional love is different because it comes from a heart set free from worry and fear. I want this kind of heart.
I’ve lived with a heart defined by worry and fear for far too long.
Doing amends with those who I’ve hurt helps me gain this heart and the freedom that comes with it. My old heart of performance and fear drowns as I stare into the eyes of those hurt by my sin. No amount of good works could make up for the sin I’ve done to them.
The only thing left for God to love is my broken and sinful self.
When his love rushes in anyways. This is when my new heart comes to life. This is when freedom follows and flows into me.
Have you experienced grace today? Do you know deep down in your heart that you’re loved no matter what you have done or will do? Would you look into the process of Regeneration if you’ve never done it?by