1 Corinthians 4:1-5
On working the world famous 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I found myself confronted with step eight: "Made a list of those persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." Every time I sat down to make that list, I would think of someone, and then rationalize: "No, that son of a gun owes me more amends than I owe him." I struggled with that for over a year, before I remembered that I was counseled to put God and myself on the top of that list. So I did that. I put God and myself on the top of the list.
Now I had to figure out how I harmed God and myself. My first reaction to trying to determine how I harmed God was that I couldn’t harm him-what does He care about this little old nothing me? God doesn’t need me. I put God aside for awhile and began trying to figure out how I harmed myself. The answer came almost immediately. I had harmed myself by not allowing me to be me. I had spent my life trying to live up to what I thought you expected of me. I had spent little energy trying to figure out who I was and to live faithfully to that truth.
After a little further thought I began to realize that I treated others, especially those near and dear to me, the same way. I wouldn’t let you be who you really are. I wouldn’t let God be God, i.e. able to love me and every member of His creation, no matter how seemingly unimportant with an everlasting, infinite love. WOW!
I learned that if I listened with compassionate ears and eyes, I could learn about who you really are-even if you don’t know who that is. I learned that I had to stop judging people from my myopic perspective and open myself to the wonders of diversity and beauty beyond my wildest dreams. I had to as Paul tells us today: "not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God."
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.