Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

It’s true that love keeps no list of wrongs, but that usually refers to the ways you hurt me. That’s the list that needs to be removed. 

There is another kind of list that needs to be written. That is the list of ways that I can recall that I hurt you.

If I am willing to look at this, I can find how I mistreated and brought hurt to you in my words, deeds and behaviour. Am I willing to go the ones I’ve harmed and make amends?

What is making amends? What does that mean? To "make amends" for something you've done means you make up for, or compensate for, the injury, insult, infidelity, or aggression you have perpetrated. To make amends means that whatever we do, we must do it for the good of the harmed person, with a heart to lift them up and lighten their load. Obviously we can never make up for how we’ve harmed others.  Only God can heal, but under God’s direction, empowered by His love and kindness, we can make a difference for healing and restoration in relationships where we’ve previously caused harm. Returning to someone we’ve hurt to make amends is a scary thing.[i]

There is a direct relationship between your relationship with God and the ones you have hurt. If a spiritual awakening does not shed light on the ways we have failed others, it is not really an awakening. It may be a dream or a fantasy, but God’s Love in us moves us to love our enemies, list our amends and act generously toward the ones we had abandoned.

Jesus said it this way.

Matthew 5:
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Have you watched the TV series ‘My Name Is Earl?’[ii] The main character Earl Hickey wins $100,000 in a lottery and decides to use it to right all the wrongs from his past. He writes a list and works through it to make amends. Sometimes he checks one offence off and realizes that he needs to add more to the list. The work of amends reminds him of others who need to have things put right.

Earl bases his motivation on a sense of redneck karma. He believes that making repairs will cause good things to happen to him and that all the bad things came to his life as a result of the poor way he treated others. It’s a valiant human effort to obey the golden rule.

Jesus gives us more than Earl’s karma lesson. Jesus says that we can love others because we have first been loved by God. We do not make amends because of the need for approval or to balance the cosmic scales of justice. We love because we were first loved--  even before we could make anything right.