Step 9 – Making Amends
Step 9: We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
Having accepted responsibility – in step eight – for the hurt we’ve caused, now it’s time to do what we can to make things right. We’ve probably been doing this in some way since we got sober. We’ve already apologized to some, but in step nine, we make a deliberate effort to make amends with everyone on our list, unless it would injure them or others.
Amends may include I’m sorry, but expressing remorse isn’t the end of it. If we’ve stolen, we may need to pay back. If we’ve broken, we may need to repair. If we’ve destroyed trust, we may need to behave differently for a long time to earn it back.
Often, what those we’ve hurt the most need is to see us living differently . . . for a very long time. Many of us came out of treatment knowing we were transformed. Expecting others to share in our optimism, we were hurt and resentful when we encountered cynicism. But I’m a new man! Those whom we have burned repeatedly though, will take more than a week or two of sobriety to be convinced.
Our amends to them will be to live in recovery today, tomorrow, and the day after that. In time they will come to believe, but the burden of proof is on us. In step nine, we communicate our intention to change and we accept that the damage we’ve inflicted isn’t undone overnight.
Making amends can be painful, shameful, and humiliating. We may be tempted to skip this step, but today’s passage teaches that if we have offended another, and we refuse to address it, we injure our relationship with God. Our faith and recovery depend on our willingness make amends with those we’ve wronged.
For the most part, if we are willing to embrace a new life, people will be forgiving. Most of those around us genuinely want to see us succeed. Step nine may be difficult, but if we want to know faith and recovery, we must do what we can to make our amends.