Tag Archives: sorry

12 Steps of Christmas | Second Sunday in Christmas

Step Ten – “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong
promptly admitted it.”

Morning Prayer for this Second Sunday after Christmas can be found here.

Clothe yourselves with humility

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. (Col. 3:12-14)

In yesterday’s post on Step Nine I ran a little bit ahead of myself (a common symptom of addictive behavior) when I anticipated the focus of today’s Step Ten.

When we approach Step Ten we commence to put our A.A. way of living to practical use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions? (88)

The habit of daily self-examination is one that dovetails nicely with the Daily Office, and this Step in particular has helped me appreciate the connection between recovery practices and the religious traditions I have known my whole life.

Confession of Sin

You’ll notice that the service of Morning Prayer that I linked to above does not include a Confession of Sin.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen. (BCP 78)

My knowledge of liturgical history helps me understand that the Confession of Sin is optional in the Daily Office; it can be omitted, for example, during festive seasons like Christmas.

However, my practice of Step Ten has taught me that the Confession is not optional; it’s the daily self-examination that helps keep me on the road of recovery.

The quick inventory is aimed at our daily ups and downs, especially those where people or new events throw us off balance and tempt us to make mistakes.

… in thought, word, and deed …

… by what we have done …

… and by what we have left undone …

… we are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

 

We need not be discouraged

What I have enjoyed learning as I practice recovery is how much the basic spiritual wisdom is the same.

In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not for perfection. (91)

Daily we confess our sins, daily we resolve to do better, daily we admit that we cannot do it alone.

Daily we praise God and give thanks that we don’t have to.

Collect of the Day

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, you Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 214)

12 Steps of Christmas | Saturday

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

Morning Prayer for this Saturday after the First Sunday of Christmas can be found here.

Who among you loves life *
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
Keep your tongue from evil-speaking *
and your lips from lying words.
Turn from evil and do good; *
seek peace and pursue it. (Ps. 34:12-14)

Step Nine, more than any other Step, I think, invites us into an entirely new way of living.

While laying out a sensible approach to making direct amends (perhaps for the very first time) to those whom we have harmed, Step NIne also reminds us that:

Of course, there is no pat answer which can fit all such dilemmas. But all of them do require a complete willingness to make amends as fast and as far as may be possible in a given set of conditions. (87)

Being willing to make amends “as fast and as far as possible” is the practice which really unlocked recovery for me.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Two incidents in my first year of recovery underscore how major a change this was.

First, because I spent a lot of time at home instead of on the road after losing my job, my wife and I had many more occasions to talk — about anything or nothing at all.

One evening, while she was making dinner, we were talking about money (which always triggered me) and I felt myself making my usual defensive responses. The same uncomfortable silence fell over the kitchen until I said, “I’m sorry about how I responded. Here’s what’s happening. Can we try this again?”

When I was working again, the second opportunity to practice making amends came my way.

I have always been a quick learner, a glib and articulate public speaker, but my new job required mastery of significantly more content than I previously had to work with.

When I was presenting to a colleague to demonstrate my competence, we came to a section of material I had neither studied nor prepared well. He very appropriately called me on the carpet, and I felt my cheeks burning with both shame and arrogance.

“How dare he challenge me?”

I took a breath and replied. “You’re right. I did not prepare as I should have. I’m sorry for wasting your time.”

To my astonishment, he accepted my apology and agreed to my request to demonstrate the material again the next day.

The generous response of most people to such quiet sincerity will often astonish us. Even our severest and most justified critics will frequently meet us more than halfway on the first trial. (84)

What recovery has taught me, first and foremost, is that I must take responsibility for my own actions and own up to them when I have harmed another person.

Don’t just “show up and throw up”

Some of the wisdom of Step Nine makes clear that early members of A.A. were professional salesmen, because their teaching is infused not only with insights into human relationships but also a sense of timing and appropriateness.

While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others. (84)

Experience taught the early members of the fellowship that there was a right time for most of the conversations that making direct amends would require.

We shall at once think of a few people who know all about our drinking, and who have been most affected by it. But even in these cases, we may need to use a little more discretion than we did with the family. We may not want to say anything for several weeks, or longer. First we will wish to be reasonably certain that we are on the A.A. beam. Then we are ready to go to these people, to tell them what A.A. is, and what we are trying to do. (84)

We may have an experience like I did, an admission of fault that was met with generosity. In those cases it is important not to think it’s “one and done,” but to remember this is a new way of living.

The temptation to skip the more humiliating and dreaded meetings that still remain may be great. We will often manufacture plausible excuses for dodging these issues entirely. Or we may just procrastinate, telling ourselves the time is not yet, when in reality we have already passed up many a fine chance to right a serious wrong. Let’s not talk prudence while practicing evasion. (85)

This Step is really asking us to act differently as well as to think differently. We are to be quick to admit fault, slow to place blame, eager to take the first step to restore a relationship.

Bearing with one another in love

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians asks for the same eagerness in acting on behalf of others.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1)

Paul is urging the Christians in Ephesus to practice unity, to live like they are one in Christ, united in one calling by the baptism they share.

Likewise, we in recovery are united by the common bonds of suffering and hope that we share. We also are to express that hope in action that seeks the best for others.

For the readiness to take the full consequences of our past acts, and to take responsibility for the well-being of others at the same time, is the very spirit of Step Nine. (87)

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.