Friday October 31st 2014

Making amends and how to forgive

Addiction recovery key #1: LOVING THE UNLOVABLE

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How do forgiveness and making amends impact addictions?

Without exception, the unwillingness to forgive is one of the unresolved root issues in an addicts life. This unresolved root may be with another person(s) or within themselves.

The first key to successful addiction recovery is one of the most misunderstood and minimized principles to recovery. In the 12-step program it is discussed as making amends and forgiveness, steps eight and nine. However, the 12-step principles are more focused on what you have done to others, rather than dealing with what others have done to you. I believe both aspects need to be dealt with and resolved in order for true recovery from addiction to be successful. Here, we will review forgiveness as a way of cleaning up the past and laying the foundation for successful growth in addiction recovery.

Learn not to be wounded

Find ways to achieve the list below and you will find over time that you don’t get wounded anymore by people in your life, and thus don’t relinquish control of your emotions.

1. Understanding another person’s perspective
2. Forgive all
3. Speak the truth in love

1. Perspective – We all struggle with hurts

Understanding is the key to resolve and a step toward reconciliation and prevention of further conflicts. Many times people who hurt others have been hurt themselves. Understanding their perspective in a situation will help curb the hurt you are feeling and many times help you to let go. A behavior is not excused, but a person can be.

I once had a client who was rude and destructive toward others. It turns out that she pushed people away because she had been rejected throughout life and would rather reject others first than to feel the pain of another rejection. She didn’t allow herself to trust people and she vowed she would never allow people to hurt her again. Once the woundedness was resolved, she was able to love others again and to treat others with respect. The same can be true for the people in your life.

2. Forgive all – Forgive 7 X 70 if necessary

Jesus tells His disciples to forgive 7 times 70 if need be. Two things happen when you forgive. You give yourself a gift to move on in harmony in your life, and you release others to God for judgment. By developing an atmosphere to resolve you may find yourself at peace within. If you do not forgive the opposite happens. You give way to bitterness and stress and develop an unforgiving spirit. When you release the offender to God, you are free to see that person as Christ does, and the resentment no longer has the power to rule your actions and reactions.

3. Speak the truth – Practice the Law of Love

Speaking the truth in love is a great concept, but one that must be learned and practiced. Part of the law of love found in Romans 14:14-23, Paul tells us to pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. It is vital to approach someone in love who has offended. A gentle word turns away wrath and by approaching in love people will almost always respond appropriately.

An eye for an eye is not forgiveness

So how should you respond to those who have offended you with deliberate or thoughtless words or actions toward you? If we react in a manner of “an eye for an eye” (revenge) we’ve missed out on what God wants us to learn how He wants us to respond. By reacting poorly to someone’s ungodly behavior we give away our emotional control and give them power to manipulate us.

In Matthew the 7th chapter, Jesus teaches us that we are not to judge or we will too be judged. In the 5th chapter we are told “to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

How much more should we love our friends and family? Yet many times they become targets of our unresolved anger for the offense they did to us.

It is the action of kindness (to do good) like mentioned in the 5th chapter that you are to proceed. If you are asked to go one mile, then volunteer to go a second mile. In other words, you are instructed to go out of your way (yes, it is an inconvenience and humbling) to be helpful and demonstrate how much you are willing to show your love and concern.

Resolve the past, don’t ignore it

Jesus tells us to go to our brothers and resolve whatever the infraction. Whether you have offended them or they have offended you, He teaches us to resolve quickly, to not let the sun go down on our anger. The most important path to resolve is found in Matthew 18:15-17. First, go and tell your brother his fault between you and him alone. If your brother doesn’t listen take another with you and try once again to resolve. If that doesn’t bring resolve take it to the church to confront the person and the sinful behavior. There is power in numbers. When a person is confronted by those who point out sinful behavior, usually that person will become humble and admit the fault. Accountability is a powerful leverage in relationships.

The Next Addiction Recovery Key I will present is: DISCOVERING AND REMOVING THE RUBBLE and learn more about getting over a broken heart.

Concepts and material taken from Dr. Jackson’s “Aftercare eworkbook” .

Photo credit: Bethan

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About Dr. Steve Jackson, DCC

Dr. Jackson received his Doctorate in Christian Counseling from Omega Bible Institute and Seminary in 2009. He developed the Christian recovery treatment programs for Calvary Rehab Center and the Genesis Center for Recovery. He has trained and practiced Christian Counseling in all areas of drug/alcohol/gambling/sex and relationship addictions. He currently has his own web based online program called 12 Day Rehab Systems, designed for those who can work on recovery while maintaining career and family obligations. Dr. Jackson has been clean and sober since 1984. Learn more about Recovery with Dr. Steve.