Spotlight on the 12 Steps, Forgiveness
By Chaplain Bill Kornovich
Drug Rehab Centers:
“ Forgiveness is the gift we give ourselves.”
continues the recognition that human beings
make mistakes. We get clean and sober, not infallible. A
wise man, who later became my sponsor, once said to
me, “There is a God, but not you;” possibly the most
profound theological statement I have ever heard. This
insight I’ve remembered for twenty-nine years.
“Progress not perfection.” Human beings will
invariably rub each other the wrong way. There is a point
I’d like to make at this juncture. In the profession of
counseling, we may work with people who have suffered
horrible trespasses: abuse as a child, violence or spouse
battering. We need remember to be gentle with each other.
This sacred trust I learned from my
Valley Hope Drug Rehab Center
mentor as a new hire. I well remember this critical lesson
from Chaplain Mary Fran. We do sacred work and
forgiveness is a key and ever present part of recovery. In my
monthly lecture, I break forgiveness down to three general
areas: forgiveness from others, forgiveness of others, and
sometimes the most difficult, forgiveness of self.
Steps Four and Five
provide for an in-depth study into
forgiveness. We may feel somewhat overwhelmed with guilt,
shame or even hopelessness. We seek forgiveness from others,
we seek forgiveness from our God, we seek to break the
destructive bonds. Ten provides for a more short term
inventory, more frequently, possibly daily. The key is to keep
our side of the street clean to the best of our human ability,
keeping in mind we are indeed human. Oh, how this
humility stuff can be humbling.
When I present the “Forgiveness” lecture, I write my
opening quote on the board: “Forgiveness is the gift we
give to ourselves.” The crowd is asked to remember this
one statement, even if they remember nothing else before
they zone out or nod off. They are asked to immediately
commit to paper the quote. The application is obvious
in the area of self forgiveness. And as far as forgiveness
from others, there is little we can do today to affect the
thoughts, words or actions of others except do our part,
stay clean and sober today. Make the amends at the
appropriate time and attempt to leave the worrying to
God. Granted, easier said than done.
Understanding just how the quote applies to forgiving
others can be challenging to many. Forgiving others can
be the beginning of serenity, a blessed gift we do for
ourselves. In many cases we forgive others not for their
sake, but for ours. We make the decision, we choose to
not have the event destroy our lives any further. We
make the decision to begin disarming our disease;
removing one of the emotional clubs our addiction or
alcoholism uses against us. During all this, we keep in
mind we drink or use because we are alcoholics and
addicts. Period. No excuses. But we recognize that the
cunning, baffling and powerful demon in our head uses
resentment along with guilt/shame and worry to keep
us in emotional turmoil. We remember all too well our
old way of dealing with emotional pains: medicate.
Another key point to forgiving others is that the
wrongdoer need never know we have forgiven them.
Remember, this is a gift given to ourselves, from ourselves.
Forgiving is not making their amends for them. They
need to make their own amends. At that time, some
expression of forgiveness by us may be appropriate. We
need not seek out an assailant in prison to offer a personal
forgiveness such as done by a late pope.
Boy, this forgiveness stuff is tough and can be
complicated at times. But forgiveness is very necessary
for recovery. I find that in some particularly traumatic
cases, this is an ongoing subject throughout the course
of drug rehab. And maybe by discharge time, the patient
will begin internalizing the importance as well as the
principles briefly discussed above. Forgiveness is a
journey of healing, sometimes slow, but steady;
occasionally a lifelong journey is required. All will get
better however if each day we stay clean and sober while
admitting our own shortcomings.
“Better to light a single candle than to curse the
darkness.” Chinese Proverb
Need Expert Advice?
Reference Our Clinician Library, Articles,
And Videos By Clicking Here