We might next ask ourselves what we mean when we say that we have “harmed” other people. What kinds of “harm” do people do one another, anyway? To define the word “harm” in a practical way, we might call it the result of instincts in collision, which cause physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual damage to people.
I had been to Eighth Step meetings, always thinking, “I really haven’t harmed many people, mostly myself.” But the time came when I wrote my list out and it was not as short as I thought it would be. I either liked you, disliked you, or needed something from you-it was that simple. People hadn’t done what I wanted them to do and intimate relationships were out of hand because of my partners’ unreasonable demands. Were these “sins of omission”? Because of my drinking, I had “dropped out”-never sending cards, returning calls, being there for other people, or taking part in their lives. What a grace it has been to look at these relationships, to make my inventories in quiet, alone with the God of my understanding, and to go forth daily, with a willingness to be honest and forthright in my relationships.