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Thoughts on Recovery – No. 54 – Step 8 – Freedom from Fear of People – Page 76

Taking this step has brought me so much freedom and peace. I took it after steps 4-7 but I take this step every time I am disturbed today. I don’t think this step is well discussed at meetings and often is considered part of the step 9 process. But it is a definite separate step. Before they discuss this step on page 76 they remind me that “faith without works is dead”. Why did they put it here? I believe to remind me that without the action of 8 and 9 I won’t have a faith that works. I will be blocked from God’s power in my life.
Step 8 is a reflection of how effectively I have done the inventory process of Step 4 and 5. It says I have made a list of all persons I have harmed and I am willing to make amends. This was done when I took my inventory. I have subjected myself to a drastic self-appraisal.
I would like to look at what those simple statements means to me today. Notice it says all persons. Do they really mean all? I believe it means all that I can recall after prayer and thorough inventory when I took step 4 initially. However even today I will recall an event from the past and see how I have harmed someone through my self centered actions and then take step 8 and become free
of the shame and guilt and then look at step 9 and how I can make restitution today.
This is a step that has become part of my daily spiritual journey. To me this step is all about willingness to forgive and willingness to make things right. To lose fear of people and to be free of shame and guilt. Step 9 then follows naturally.
I want to break this step down and look at it in several thoughts because it has been of so much value to me. I will complete this thought by looking at what a drastic self appraisal means and how it relates to forgiveness and effectively working step 8. My drastic self appraisal was to look at my resentments, fears, and conduct in sexual relationships and then other relationships. When I did that I could see the truth about how I had lived my life. It was not pretty. I started with a list of those I had resentment against. Then I used the tools on pages 66-7 to change the way I saw those individuals. I used the prayers to develop patience , tolerance, and pity. To ask how I can be helpful to them. I then asked for God to save me from my anger. An finally I asked God to give me at least a kind and tolerant attitude towards them.
If I have done this I should have a changed attitude toward those people. I don’t have to excuse their behavior but I can forgive them. By doing this simple act I am free from them having any power over me. If I haven’t forgiven them then I can’t see the truth about my mistakes. If I haven’t forgiven them I can’t see the truth in how I may have harmed them and contributed to the resentment.
The definition of forgive is to stop feeling anger towards someone or blaming someone. I am the only one who can forgive. What about if I am not willing? Then I need to keep praying those prayers I described in the paragraphs above. If I am not willing to forgive is it because I don’t want to look at my own behavior? Is it because by not forgiving am I using it to justify my behavior? I believe if I want to be forgiven I have to forgive. Remember I am not excusing! Then the question is do I want to be free of the bondage of self? God won’t set me free if I am not willing to let go of my anger!
Well someone might say I can never forgive what this person has done! Sandy Beach said it so well. He said what is the limit of forgiveness in AA. He said everything up to and including crucifixion! He says remember 2000 years ago they nailed someone to the cross. As he was dying he said ” father forgive them they know not what they do”.
Step 8 for me is all about willingness to forgive and willingness to make right any harms I have done. It results in freedom from fear of people. What that means for me today is if anyone was to walk into my life I would not be afraid of them, not angry at them, and willing to make things right if possible without doing further harm.
Of course we don’t do any of this perfectly that is why we are instructed to keep praying and seeking God to make us willing. I have learned that the more I ask God to make me willing to forgive the more distance God puts between me and my feelings of anger. What a gift!
1 will share further in my next thought on step 8.

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