Making amends is painful. Doing nothing is painful. But nothing is as painful as keeping everything a secret.
In Life Recovery Step 8, it says, “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Unfortunately, individuals stuck in addiction try to do damage control by trying to hide their addiction and not making amends to those they’ve hurt. Full of shame and self-condemnation, they avoid making amends at all costs because they think it’ll spare themselves—and those they love—from more hurt.
Here are four core shame-filled beliefs that keep a person stuck:
- “I am a bad and worthless person.”
- “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.”
- “My addiction is my greatest need.”
- “Only I can meet my needs.”
Lies like these are shame-driven, but they lose their power when one experiences redemptive relationships.
One of the best examples of a redemptive relationship is that of David and Nathan. David would’ve kept covering up his sins instead of making amends. He was not only guilty of committing adultery, but he also killed Bathsheba’s husband to keep it a secret. In the end, shame nearly killed him even after he got away with murder. In Psalm 32:3, he wrote, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.”
If it had not been for Nathan, the prophet, who confronted him, David may never have confessed his sin and made amends to those he had hurt. By making amends, David experienced much-needed relief from the shame he had experienced. Psalm 32:5 says: “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
Like David, who needed the confrontation of Nathan to spur him on to make amends, anyone in recovery needs a counselor or coach and a group—such as a Life Recovery Group—to help. Accountability can help an individual write a list of everyone they’ve harmed. As fellow strugglers work to write down their list, reveal their pain, and encourage one another, divine unconditional love begins to sink in.
Being in a redemptive relationship helps an individual be brutally honest; it will give them a willingness to make amends to those they’ve hurt. Being willing to make amends is scary when an individual has lived a lie, but it is the only path by which one can reconcile with God and others.
by Edward J. Grant