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Step 8 – Taking Responsibility

Step 8 – Taking Responsibility

Step 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:17-18

Every once in a while, I meet someone new to recovery who claims that he has no regrets. Happy just to be sober, he’s made peace with his failures, forgiven himself, and has put his past in the past.

The problem of course, is that addicts don’t live in a vacuum, isolated from everyone else. In our addiction, we follow our own will above all, sacrificing the needs and feelings of those around us. We insist that we love our families and that we treat those around us well, but our actions reveal that while addicted, we are incapable of considering how our actions impact others. Compulsively following our appetite, we casually disregard the consequences not only for ourselves, but also for everyone around us.

Addiction blinds us to this destruction and misery that we cause. As our faculties return in sobriety then, we can and should mourn the pain we’ve inflicted on others. Dismissing that hurt and simply forgiving ourselves, without ever addressing the hurt we’ve perpetrated, isn’t recovery. It’s willful ignorance designed only to make us feel better.

Today’s passage says that we’re responsible for how we treat others and that we’re to do what we can to live in right relationship with those around us. But I’ve been hurt by others too! We aren’t responsible for how others treat us. We can only live rightly ourselves. This isn’t just about drugs, this is about any way in which we damage others with our selfish pursuits.

Step eight says that if we want to recover, we must take responsibility for the things we’ve done to harm others. We must be willing to do what we can change our behavior and to make amends. We’d prefer to avoid this because it’s painful to visit the past, facing the horrible things we’ve done. There is a grief that leads to repentance and transformation though (2 Corinthians 7:10). In step eight, we look back, take responsibility for our destructive actions and we become willing to do what it takes to make things right.

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