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Following All the Steps

Following All the Steps

“Please accept my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” Thus he urged him, and he took it. Genesis 33:11

For years, my daughter and I have enjoyed watching Bob Ross and his Joy of Painting reruns. We’ve always wanted to recreate one and so, for Father’s Day this year, my daughter surprised me by setting up canvasses, paints, and brushes. We watched and painted as Bob Ross instructed. We had great fun, but we didn’t have every brush or paint color that he recommended. Neither did we follow every step exactly as he demonstrated. I was impressed with our paintings, but they weren’t nearly as good as Bob Ross’s paintings. It was our first attempt, and we simply didn’t follow every step perfectly. If we wanted to recreate his exact painting, we’d have had to work repeatedly at it, emulating every tool, technique, and brush stroke exactly as he explained. Instead, we cut corners and ended up with paintings that looked like what you’d expect from four first-time Bob Ross painters.

Pretty good was good enough for painting but was dreadfully inadequate when it came to my recovery. In my first few attempts at sobriety, I approached the 12-steps like a menu, picking which ones I was willing to do. I wanted to maintain my privacy so I wasn’t willing to make amends, because that meant talking to others about my addiction. Nope. I’m not doing that. I cut corners and I ended up with a pseudo-recovery that didn’t last very long. I’m not saying that the 12-steps are the only way to find recovery. I’m simply saying that if I truly wanted recovery, I had to put everything into it. Skipping steps and worrying about my pride meant inevitable relapse. This last time around then, if I wanted authentic recovery, I had to be willing to make amends.

For his own sake, and for that of his brother’s, Jacob made amends in today’s passage. Having previously swindled his brother and then run away for 20 years, Jacob now returned, presenting a peace offering. At that point, Esau had already forgiven him. Jacob could have simply accepted forgiveness and kept his livestock. Making amends meant going one step further though, attempting to restore that which was taken. This was a necessary step for Jacob’s repentance. He wasn’t just sorry. He was willing to do what it took to make it right. Esau likely needed to see this as well. Yes, he’d forgiven Jacob, but for trust to be restored, he needed to see a change in behavior.

If we truly desire recovery, then we must do whatever it takes to get there, refusing to cut corners. We will need to ask forgiveness of those we’ve hurt, but for our own sake, and for their sake, we must often go one step further, repenting and making amends. Making amends transforms us and proves to others that we are being transformed.

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