This week’s HTYH will complete our discussion about Step Eight: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” The key words in this step are “became willing.” Barleycorn and many others who’ve worked the 12 steps with a sponsor had to pray for willingness as we made our list of the people we had harmed. The main reason Barleycorn got stuck on Step Eight is that he knew after his Step Eight list was finished he would have to work Step Nine, and make direct amends to the people he had harmed. Many AA’s get stuck on stupid at this crucial step, and most of them eventually drink again. An old-timer named Frank at the Fort’s Saturday Morning Nut-Ward group said, an alcoholic’s dilemma is, “We hate the way things are, and we hate change!”
Bill Wilson ended his Step Eight discussion on page 81-82 of his book, “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,” with: Having carefully surveyed this whole area of human relations, and having decided exactly what personality traits in us injured and disturbed others, we can now commence to ransack our memory for the people to whom we have given offense. To put a finger on the nearby and most deeply damaged ones shouldn’t be hard to do. Then, as we walk back through our lives, year-by-year, as far as our memory will reach, we shall be bound to construct a long list of people who have to some extent or other, been affected. We should, of course, ponder and weigh each instance carefully. We shall want to hold ourselves to the course of admitting the things we have done, meanwhile forgiving the wrongs done us, real or fancied. We should avoid extreme judgments of others and ourselves; not exaggerating our defects or theirs. A quiet, objective view will be our steadfast aim.
Whenever our pencil falters, we can fortify and cheer ourselves by remembering what this Step has meant to others in their AA experience. It is the beginning of the end of isolation from our fellows and from God.
Professor Chesnut said on page 184 of his book, “The Higher Power of the Twelve Step Program,” in the Eighth and Ninth Steps I clean away the wreckage of the past (where I can) so that I can start over with a clean slate, and after the Twelfth Step I begin living this new way of life every hour of every day in a new, outreaching kind of way. But the only way to accomplish this often-frightening spiritual journey is to start learning how to-be-at-home-with-God, because only that can give me the strength to do the other things that have to be done.
As I progress along the way, I end up learning more and more about myself, in the world, and with God-but the best and greatest of these is being-at-home-with-God. Because God is everywhere, and is always with us wherever we go, being with God is the most ultimate and satisfying sense. And if I have learned how to clear away the barriers within my own mind which block me from feeling God’s presence, I will automatically know how to start feeling at home with myself, and totally and unselfconsciously at home in the world around me, wherever I am.
Next week’s HTYH will begin a discussion of Step Nine, “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”