We made a list of all we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. – Step Eight
It’s easy to feel like we want to give up when we get to Step Eight in Life Recovery, right? Many of us struggle in recovery when it comes to forgiveness. Whether we struggle with chemical dependency or codependency, we all need to work through forgiveness if we want to find healing.
Forgiveness is a choice. No matter how much someone hurt us, we can still choose to forgive them. But forgiveness is a one-sided decision that does not have to involve the other person. So we can forgive someone for hurting us, but that does not mean we have to reconcile with them. And someone can forgive us, but that does not mean they are ready to reconcile with us. After all, forgiveness is different than reconciliation.
Although we know that we need to forgive those who’ve hurt us and make amends with those whom we’ve hurt, it isn’t easy. Forgiveness, though, is a necessary step we all need to take if we want to move forward and be successful in our recovery. But here’s the good news: Once we begin the process of forgiveness, we’ll reap the fruits of forgiveness! Here are some of the fruits that come from forgiveness.
- A Clean Slate
We need to set aside our pride and develop the humility it takes to work through forgiveness. We can do this by making a list of everyone we’ve harmed. With the help of a sponsor or counselor, we can go through this list and forgive the people on our list for their part. But as we go through the list, let’s not forget to accept God’s forgiveness!How did God forgive us? He forgave us “while we were still sinners,” (Romans 5:8). Accepting God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with whether we deserve it or not. When God forgave us, He removed our sins from us for good. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” In other words, He wiped the slate clean—and we now have a new start!
Just as God showed compassion for us, so we can show compassion to others. One of the pitfalls of addiction is that we tend to put ourselves first and fail to understand other’s needs. Step Eight in recovery allows us to try to understand how our unhealthy habits or addiction have impacted others. We need to realize how our spouses, children, and friends have been hurt. We’ll only be successful in recovery when we have compassion for others.Not only should we have compassion for others, but we should also have compassion for ourselves. We can feel very discouraged, ashamed, and even worthless thinking of all our past mistakes. But our hope comes from knowing just as God forgave us, we can forgive ourselves.
- Closer Relationships
One of the most important decisions we can ever make in our lives is to forgive. We can receive God’s forgiveness, ask forgiveness from those we’ve hurt, and learn to forgive ourselves. However, if we don’t forgive, we can become resentful and bitter. Those toxic feelings will prevent us from having close, intimate relationships.To choose forgiveness, you may need to forgive others daily. Whenever you feel a painful reminder of how someone hurt you or how you feel disappointed in yourself, you can pray or say aloud the powerful words “I forgive you.” Also, it may help you to write to someone whom you have hurt feelings toward. You can write a letter of forgiveness to them—either asking for forgiveness or telling them you forgive them. You should not mail the letters; they are for your benefit only.
So, what’s stopping you from taking this step? If you feel like giving up and going back to your old life, choose instead to forgive. When you do, you’ll reap the fruits that come from forgiveness. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me,” (John 15:4).
When you choose forgiveness, you’ll be amazed at how much fruit you’ll begin to see in your new life. Forgiveness will help you develop relationships because you will grow closer to the Lord and others. You’ll begin to enjoy relationships built on trust and free from damaging emotions that hurt no one but yourself. And most of all you will experience freedom in your life! Make the decision and choose to forgive today—and every day!