With the upcoming holidays, there are mixed feelings when it comes to family gatherings. You want holiday get-togethers to be idyllic, like a Norman Rockwell picture, but they’re not.

The holidays bring relationships with conflict to the surface.

I often speak to groups about relationships. I see tears, heartache and unspoken pain on the face of hurting people. It’s a universal language.

Conflict perpetuates when you get caught up in the “she said” and “but they did this” mentality. Bringing up past hurts or picking at trivial complains continues a never-ending cycle for unhealthy relationships unless both people want to resolve the conflict or one person decides to stop fighting. While these may stop a fight, what’s needed for restoring relationships is asking forgiveness for that which you’re responsible.

Restoration in one of my relationships happened when I asked for forgiveness for behavior I was responsible for. I had to own up for what I had done wrong without any “if only’s” or “if you, then….”  I couldn’t put the blame anywhere except on myself.

It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.

Is there a relationship you need to restore? Is there behavior you need to own up to? Do you need to stop blaming another person? You can start that process now.

Restoration is defined as the act or process of returning something to its original condition, of bringing back something that existed before or the act of returning something that was stolen or taken.

Relationships where restoration’s needed include those needing repair, where joy has been stolen, where years have been lost because of stubbornness, unforgiveness, or bitterness. These relationships need trust, faith, love and acceptance reestablished.

These relationships might be between parent-child, siblings, spouses, friends, in-laws, colleagues or church members. The core questions is – what is your responsibility in restoring the relationship?

Do you need to ask for forgiveness, to stop blaming and to let go of the offense?

Do you need to stop nursing the painful wound, to stop controlling the relationship?

Do you need to humble yourself and say you were wrong?

Do you need to get rid of selfishness?

Do you need to lay down the weapons and extend your hand in peace?

An elderly women recently clung to my chest as she sobbed over an unrestored relationship with her child. For many years she held on to pride and bitterness that brought pain to her exhausted heart.  This is not God’s plan for us.

Instead, let this be your prayer:

Romans 12:9-21 (The Message )

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

How can you restore a relationship this holiday season?

{Disclaimer: This article is not speaking about restoration in abusive relationships where it’s unsafe, unhealthy, or inappropriate for the victim of abuse to seek restoration.)

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