It gets harder and goes deeper every week as we continue with this series on the 12 steps.
This week we ended up going through 4 steps at once because they were so interconnected.
Step 6 - Ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step 7 - Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings
Step 8 - Make a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them
Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
What I learned as I reflected on this was that reconciliation and making amends is a lot more than saying "I'm sorry" (or "My Bad!) It really seems like these 12 steps link to the Christian message as they really call us into spiritual maturity.
And so my sermon was essentially about the way we have to grow in our character in order to become people who can make amends - or build bridges back - as relationships go through difficult times. And I spoke about how we have to grow in: honesty, humility, courage, compassion and vulnerability.
There are a couple of things that stay with me after this weekend.
1. How long this all can take - to recognize that we have hurt another person and then be willing to make amends. God reveals our sins to us over time.
2. We have a God who forgives - but the "karma" of our mistakes remains and we must still go back and repair the bonds that we have broken.
3. We cannot do this work on our own. The book reference Jesus wonderful parable about the wheat and the weeds and this is what Rohr wrote:
if you try ot pull out the weeds, you might pull out the wheat along with it. Ask God to remove - don't dare go after your faults yourselves or you will go after the wrong thing or more commonly a clever substitute for the real thing."
The small group I am leading is really enjoying this book and our discussions. Every week someone else seems to have a breakdown or a breakthrough or something. It is hard to describe - but all in all I am glad we are doing this book and I am doing this series.
What I continue to recognize is that culturally we are encouraged to be strong, and move on, and not dwell on mistakes of the past. But, of course, they don't go away and relationships suffer because of our inability to ask for and receive forgiveness.
The 12 steps are about two things - making amends and keeping ourselves from hurting others further. is that all? That is everything.
And so we continue!