The Power of Making Amends (Part 2)

amends2In his book, Staying Sober, Terence Gorksi shares a simple exercise that creates a workable “road map” for the process of making amends. On a sheet of paper, draw lines to make three columns. In the left column, list those who were hurt by my drinking/drug addiction. In the center one, list how they were hurt in very specific terms. And, in the right, list what must be done to make amends with them.

A final step in the process is to determine who can and cannot be contacted and to develop a chronological list of those who will be contacted. The second half of Step 9 offers a warning — there are certain people to whom we should not attempt to make amends. This is because doing so could actually be more harmful than doing nothing. In Step 8 the focus in on a list of all those to whom one is willing to make amends. Step 9 involves talking real action to restore relationships. This requires much more discretion.

A. Some Practical Suggestions: Here are things to consider from the Serenity New Testament:

  • Start with those to whom we may turn immediately, such as spouses or close family members.
  • There may be those to whom only partial disclosure can be made, because to do more would cause harm to others. We need always to consider the risks to other individuals’ security, privacy, and confidentiality.
  • Also there are those to whom amends should be deferred until a later date. Perhaps the hurts are so fresh that our presence would only trigger rage on their part. Maybe we also need to work through some anger and resentments of our own.
  • And, there are those whom we should never contact, because doing so would only open up old relationship doors that need to stay closed. This may be especially true in the case of former sexual partners

B. Take Your Time: We don’t want to rush recovering people into going out to make amends with those they have hurt. Because it can be very frightening and stressful, relapse can easily occur during this process. Even with several months of sobriety behind them, they still need a lot of love and support. Coaching can be extremely helpful in regard to specific attempts to make amends. Rehearsing the amends with a sponsor or counselor can be important. This can help them to avoid blameshifting and to keep the focus on their own behavior and actions in the situation.

It never works to say, “I did this but you did that, too.” In certain cases, they may not even be sure of whether a situation requires a real amends or not. And, there are some difficult situations where amends may be required, for instance with an abusive parent. They must be reminded of the fact that making amends does not mean ignoring, excusing, or condoning the abuse and wrong the other person may have done. The main point is that they are still responsible for negative hurtful things they have done in respect to these relationships.

C. The Risk of Rejection: There is a definite risk of rejection that can be a part of making amends. There is no guarantee that people will respond to their request for forgiveness with openness and love. They may have simply experienced too much pain and are not willing to forgive the person and trust them again. And, they cannot be expected to ask forgiveness of them for wrongs they may have committed either. Those who would make amends must be reminded that while others may not respond as they wish they would, it will still do them a world of good. In a sense, it is a bit of a one-sided process. Ultimately, the practice of making amends is more for one’s own conscience than it is about changing other people’s attitudes. We do it because it is pleasing to God and for the sake of our own peace of mind and serenity. We are not responsible for the reactions of others. *

D.   Real Healing is the Reward: Great healing occurs when recovering addicts start taking responsibility for the wrongs they have done and move forward constructively to make things right with those they have harmed. This whole process of making amends always begins with those closest to the addict: spouses, children, parents, and other family members. Often, despite initial skepticism, these people may see real change and begin to open their hearts again.

There is no greater joy for rescue mission workers than to see families that have been torn apart and mothers who never knew what happened to their sons or daughters, to see the reunions that could come out of this. It’s such a powerful thing, and these restored relationships can create such motivation for recovery and reward for all the hard work they put into getting to this point. It’s tremendous.

Read the Power of Making Amends (Part 1)

Rescue Magazine, August 1997 Journal of the AGRM

The Power of Making Amends (Part 1)

amends“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”(Matthew 5:23, 24)

The Power of Making Amends  

A rescue mission counselor asked me to talk with a man who had returned to their recovery program for the third time.    Despite completing their program twice, he was unable to remain sober for more than a few months.    Not too far into our discussion, I recognized he had not been able to develop the healthy sort of relationships essential for continued growth in recovery.    Fearful of becoming too involved with others, he could not experience the joy of meaningful, fulfilling relationships. I asked him, “Have you ever done the 8 & 9 Steps?”      His answer of “No” made perfect sense.    Like many newly recovering people, he still carried a load of guilt and remorse from unresolved past relationships.    Thus, he could not move forward with confidence to make new intimate relationships. He needed to clean up the residue of his past first.

Homeless addicts are the loneliest people in the world.    Their destructive behavior alienates those who care about them.    They come to rescue mission recovery programs with long trails of broken relationships.    When they find sobriety, their minds clear up and their thoughts naturally turn toward their loved ones.    They tend to be filled with all sorts of guilt, shame and remorse over the loss of these significant relationships.  So, mission programs can offer real healing by helping these people become restored to family members and others they have hurt.

Some very practical guidance to do this is found in the Twelve Step approach to recovery:

Step Eight  – Made a list of all persons we had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.

Step Nine  – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

These important “therapeutic exercises” are also an essential dimension of Christian discipleship.    The 12 Steps, in essence, bring recovering people through a process of progressive humbling.    Each successive step is a deeper opportunity to forgo ego for the sake of doing what is right.    This starts by humbling themselves by admitting they have an addiction that they cannot overcome by themselves.    Then, they are called to humble themselves before God and to turn their lives and wills over to Him.    Steps 4 & 5 involve a further humbling experience; sharing the “exact nature of our wrongs” with another trusted human being. (See James 5:16). And finally, Steps 8 & 9 involve an even more difficult proposition, going to those who have been harmed and sincerely attempting to restore those relationships by making amends.

What are amends?    According to the  Serenity New Testament  they are:

  • Sincere efforts to offer apology for past harm.
  •   Wonderful bridge-builders for more positive future relationships.
  • Effective agents for removing the tremendous weight of guilt, shame, and remorse. *

Along with a verbal apology and recognition of the hurt and wrong afflicted, some sort of restitution may be necessary.    This could involve a repayment of money or some other gesture intended to restore losses from individuals that were harmed.

The process of making amends actually starts early in the 12 Step process.    A written inventory of one’s most troubling sins and character defects is developed in the Fourth Step.    This sets the stage for Steps 8 and 9 because most items listed involve harm done to others.    Step 5 is also essential.    It helps addicts to more fully understand what is means to really repent of one’s sins.    Sharing the personal inventory with another person also helps them to experience more deeply God’s forgiveness.    This is absolutely essential if they are to move toward repairing the damage they have done to their relationships with others.

Read the Power of Making Amends (Part 2)

* This excerpt is from fhe  Serenity New Testament  (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1982).

What is the Digital Divide?

Watch the AskimoTV Interview: Michael Liimatta

Most people think of the “digital divide” as the gap between those who are able to benefit from computers and Internet resources and those who cannot. It is not just about the inability to access technology. It is also involves the lack of training necessary to use it effectively. It’s true, even here in the Kansas City area there are thousands of people who could greatly benefit from online resources but lack access to a high speed connection to the Internet and the equipment needed to access it.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, only fifty-four percent of adults living with a disability use the Internet, compared with 81% of adults who are not disabled. Although many disabled people have no trouble using the Internet, a large percentage of them are not able to access it in their homes.1 Their research also notes that only 42% of adults over 65 access the Internet. Additionally, just 63% of people with annual incomes under $30,000 are online compared to nearly 90% of those with incomes over $50,000.

There is an even greater need outside of the US, especially in developing countries where less than 1 in every 1,000 people have access to a computer. That compares to nearly 600 in every 1,000 in the developed world. 3

All this shows that we still have a significant portion of the population who are unable to use the Internet for such activities as connecting with loved ones, job searches, accessing information on housing and social services, online learning opportunities and finding important health information.

With current wireless technology and lots of useable recycled PC equipment, there are ways to close this gap significantly if these resources were allocated properly. So, there is a need for advocacy so everyone in our society can enjoy the benefits of connecting in the digital age.

There is a second aspect to the Digital Divide. It is the gap between available technology and the use of these resources by nonprofit organizations. As a 2005 article states, “While today they typically have computers, Internet access, email and basic software applications, experts said, nonprofits still often lack the training and leadership to use that technology effectively, and are finding it tough to secure funding to pay for technology as an ongoing cost of doing business.” 4

While corporate America is developing and using new technology at a dizzying pace, some estimate that nonprofit organizations are five years or more behind in being able to make effective use of what is currently available. Even when the cost of broadband Internet access and PC equipment is falling, there is still a great need for training for end users at nonprofit organizations.

A case in point is the whole social networking phenomenon. Nonprofit organizations now have the opportunity to get closer than ever to their supporters and the people they serve. Yet, few not-for-profit organizations have made use of this resource to raise funds and better serve their constituents.

It is time for those of us who are tech savvy to use our time and talents to close this gap! Now, Google is bringing a ultra high-speed fiber network to the Kansas City area. Those of us who have lived in the digital world for awhile need to ensure that community groups and nonprofits have a place at the table as planning and implementation of this new network moves forward. And, once it is up and running, we need to help them learn how to use it to accomplish their missions.

This is exactly what we hoping to accomplish through  Connecting for Good, a nonprofit organization established in 2011. We’re working to make sure everyone benefits from Google’s new ultrahigh speed gigabit fiber network — regardless of their income.. If you share our passion, be sure to subscribe to this site. We are also looking for volunteers, blogger and board members to get involved with us. To get more involved, use our  contact form  to get in touch with us!

For more information on our local situation, see  Google Fiber‘s Digital Divide study  Kansas City’s Digital Divide  released on June 22, 2012.


1 Techology on
2 Who’s Online: Internet User Demographics, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
3 Bridge the Digital Divide web site
4 Despite Years of Discussion, There’s Still a Digital Divide, The NonProfitTimes , Nov. 1, 2005


To learn more about my efforts to bridge the Digital Divide in Kansas City, visit Connecting for Good.