In my work in the local hospital as a family counselor, I learned the importance of learning from our mistakes. Much of the hospital treatment was based on the 12-Steps Program material and the wisdom of the 12 Steps, which was developed from actual trial-and-error experience of recovering addicts beginning in 1935 and on to the present.
“What was tried and really worked to help addicts stay clean, sober and to build better lives was documented, taught and put to use. What didn’t work was discarded.” Addicts also discovered the life-saving worth of learning from their own mistakes. Not only for the good of their sobriety, but also for their personal maturity and to build and maintain intimate relationships.
From their combined experience, addicts learned that resentments can be destructive and often lead to associated dysfunctions such as relapsed drug use, depression and guilt. Resentments must be promptly and effectively dealt with. A practical solution was found in a 1930s magazine article where a prominent clergyman said: “If you want to be rid of resentments, pray for the person you resent. Pray for them to have a happy life, good health, prosperity, and to have all the good things you want for yourself. Do this every day for two weeks, whether you mean it or not. Where there was anger, resentment, even hatred, you will find the start of meaningful and constructive relationships with the persons you used to resent.” Such are the benefits from living the wisdom learned through 12 Step experience over the last 88 years.
Jesus commanded this: “I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. I believe Jesus gave us this commandment purposely so that we might benefit with the peace-producing results when we follow Jesus’ commandments.
I am a lifelong Christian churchgoer and have lived through four wars and I wonder about not hearing more of this commandment taught in churches. The instructions are plain and simple and the benefits are generally available to anyone willing to faithfully practice this commandment. (As recommended in the magazine article.)
In my 30-plus years counseling career I have witnessed surprising improvements in severely stressed relationships when persons prayed for the person(s) resented. I feel confident in recommending Jesus’ commandments and the clergyman’s suggestions.
Who knows? We might even put an end to wars. That really could happen if more of us would pray for our enemies and: “Love God with all your being and your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 19:19.