Seven Tips for Restoring Relationships

When God saves us, He never leaves us where He finds us. He provides for our transformation and healing by the Holy Spirit. Often it is a messy process.

Full disclosure: My healing process has been messy, and I have hurt others dear to me in my attempt to find wholeness.

The last ten years have been intense as the Holy Spirit has revealed broken places in my soul and walked with me in transformation. My eyes were open to the extent of trauma in both my childhood and adulthood, experiences I had sought to minimize and dismiss. In my desperation to find healing, without warning I dumped an ugly load of pain in the path of my loved ones, hoping they would graciously sort through all the garbage with me. I admit this was an unwise and unfair approach.

I am grateful to the Lord for His lovingkindness and grace. I am in a far better space today, but Jesus and I are not done yet. I am in awe, that in spite of myself, Jesus has restored my significant relationships. I FaceTime with my mom twice a month and have meaningful conversations. This week I had a wonderful visit with my dad and stepmom, two people incredibly dear to my heart. Throughout our time together, I marveled at the healing work of God. Every moment spent with them was a gift.

I can’t go back in time, but I can be more aware going forward.

Here are some tips I have gleaned about seeking to restore relationships. It takes both parties for restoration. If both parties are not willing, restoration is not possible, but you can still find peace through Christ.

Be patient. Restoration is a process. It takes time to rebuild trust. Also, heart change is a work of the Holy Spirit. God’s timing is not our timing. “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a NIV).

Take responsibility for yourself. You are only in control of yourself. Talk about your feelings, perceptions, and experiences. Do not assume the worst or blame others. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12a).

Forgive. Just as you have been forgiven in Christ, extend forgiveness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgive again. Every time feelings of hurt or offense arise, remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Listen well. As Stephen Covey recommends, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Listen to learn and understand. Put yourself in the other’s shoes. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

Walk in love. Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Model the example of Jesus regardless of the response you receive. Some issues just need to be dropped. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Remember that life is short. Each day is a gift from God. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. I certainly don’t want a loved one to pass away, knowing that I didn’t do my part to work toward restoration. We don’t have the luxury of withholding forgiveness. “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Proverbs 90:12 NLT).

Friends, our God delights in restoring relationships. We thrive in life and leadership, as we keep our hearts open to restoration with others.     

Walk in Faith, Not Fear

It was a perfect day for a hike. My husband picked out the trail, a 31-minute drive from our house. The rock pathway stretched out before us, inviting us to enjoy the beauty of nature. The sheered basalt cliffs framed the area on both sides. The trees, bushes, and flowers burst forth with the colors of spring. A creek meandered from the west, its water adding to the melody of the birds. Our excursion was out-of-this-world, a small taste of heaven.

Two men came walking toward us. They had finished their walk and were heading to the parking area. They stopped just after passing us with a warning. “We saw a rattler back there. She was coiled up near a rock. Looked like she was guarding some eggs. Better keep an eye out.”

My husband and I thanked them and continued walking. Nothing had changed about that idyllic setting, except everything had changed. The fear of encountering a fierce rattlesnake overshadowed my enjoyment. My spidey-senses (or should I say snakey-senses) were on high alert and my adrenaline went soaring.

It took every ounce of my strength to keep from calling quits on our outing. Each step felt like one step closer to disaster. Every rock was a rattlesnake lair. The tree roots were hiding places. The dried leaves were molted snake skin. Broken branches lying on the path were serpents.

Jonathan was in front of me on the lookout for danger, and I lagged further and further behind. In desperation, I quoted Scripture about God’s love being greater than fear. I even shouted out part of Mark 16. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (verses 17-18 NIV). 

My pulse slowed. I breathed easier. And then, a snake crossed in front of Jonathan! I cried out in dismay. It was a harmless bull snake. Nonetheless, it launched me back into the cycle of fear.

As my body settled down yet again, I realized I was so focused on impending doom that I was missing out on the Creator’s artistry. I had been oblivious to the surrounding majesty. So, in spite of the fear, I forced my gaze upward to the trees and cliffs. I studied the water dancing along the creek bed. My soul drank deeply of the beauty. The sense of fear diminished as I paid more attention to God’s spectacular creation.

I wonder how often the fear of “what might be” robs us from experiencing the blessings God has for us right now. Do we miss out on the exciting possibilities of the future because we are paralyzed by dread? Perhaps the Lord has planted a vision in your heart for yourself or your family or your ministry. Don’t allow the potential risks to overwhelm you from taking the next steps of trusting obedience. This doesn’t mean you ignore danger signs but you must not allow them to deprive you of present and future joys.

If we encounter obstacles along the way (and we most likely will), it isn’t the time to quit. We must continue to trust the Lord to direct our steps towards His will, to walk in faith instead of fear.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).