When I look out on the sea of faces, some young, some old, I see tears, heartache and unspoken pain. It’s behind the beautiful demeanor, but present all the same. When I speak on broken relationships, faces of hurting people is the universal language spoken by women and men everywhere.

In the Christian community, we’re talking more about pain and hurt. For decades we’ve hidden behind the picket fence facade that everything’s okay when it isn’t. Acknowledging pain is healthy. More writers, bloggers, and Christian leaders are speaking about pain and giving authentic voice to lives that aren’t perfect.  But one piece is missing when there’s pain from broken relationships – our response and responsibility in restoring relationships.

{Disclaimer: There’s a difference between abuse and broken relationships where there’s an imbalance of power and control. This post is not speaking about abusive relationships where it is unsafe, unhealthy, or inappropriate for the target of the abuse to seek restoration.)

Adults are similar to middle schoolers I work with who get caught up in relationship issues.  “She said” and “but they did this” is a never-ending cycle for unhealthy relationships unless two things happen:

  1. Both people want to resolve the conflict OR
  2. One person decides to stop fighting.

While these may stop a fight, an additional component needed for restoring relationships is:

Asking forgiveness for what you’re responsible for.

The moment of change came for me in a relationship 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 had be completely honest about my own sinful and selfish behavior and couldn’t put the blame anywhere but 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 and stop blaming another person for?

You can start that process now.

Not later.

Not when they get their act together or when they come to you first.

But now.

Restoration is defined as: (www.merriam-webster.com)

  • the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
  • the act of bringing back something that existed before
  • the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

Relationships where restoration is needed include

  • those that were once good but need to be repaired
  • those were joy has been stolen
  • those with lost years because of stubbornness, unforgiveness, or bitterness
  • those needing to have essential elements of trust, faith, love and acceptance restored.

    photo credit freedigitalphotos.net

    photo credit freedigitalphotos.net

These relationships might be

  • parent-child
  • between siblings
  • between spouses
  • between friends
  • between in-laws.
  • between colleagues
  • between pastor & layperson or congregation

There are many facets in restoring relationships. This post is only about one facet:

What is your responsibility in restoring the relationship?

  • Do you need to ask for forgiveness?
  • Do you need to stop blaming?
  • Do you need to let the offense go?
  • Do you need to be okay with that person not being what you want them to be?
  • Do you need to forgive?
  • Do you need to risk being hurt again so you can trust?
  • Do you need to stop nursing the painful wound?
  • Do you need to let go and let God work out His will?
  • Do you need 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?

A recently held an elderly women close to my chest as she sobbed over an unrestored relationship with her child. For many years she held onto behaviors above that brought more pain to her exhausted heart.  This is not God’s plan for us.

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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.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Dear Father, will you humble us where we need to be humbled so we can reach out to those who we need restoration with?  Will you show us what we need to do and equip us with love and compassion that only you can generate?  Thank you for being the Divine Restorer and the Great Healer. Amen.

Coming Up: Exciting News About A Conference I’ll be speaking at with Not aLone Mom Coming to Pensacola, FL October 25, 2013 and Chicago July 25-26, 2014. Stay tuned or subscribe by email to receive the latest updates!

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