Destination RESToration Ten Tools for Restored Relationships

    This is part eight of Destination RESToration. If you have not read the first seven segments, I encourage you to do so. Destination RESToration, DR Restored to Our Original Purpose, DR Preparing for Restoration, DR Restored Communion with God, DR Call the Carpenter. DR Remove, Rinse, & Rest. DR Refine & Replenish.

    Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NLT

    How many of us, when we hear that verse, think, “Well I have tried, but that person will just not cooperate” or “If I try to restore that relationship, that person will have the power to hurt me again.” 

    People are complicated.

    Humans are fallible.

    Navigating relationships can be like navigating a dinghy in ferocious storm in the middle of the vast, powerful, and mysterious ocean. 

    Sometimes we have done all we can to live in peace, and the relationship is still not restored. And sometimes, because of the damage done to the relationship in the past, or state of an individual’s heart, we have to pray for that person to be restored to his or her Creator and surrender them to the Master Builder and Healer who can work miracles. 

    There are times when a relationship can be restored with a simple apology or conversation. Other times, there is a breach in a relationship because of a stupid misunderstanding, miscommunication, or wrong perception about what a person thinks. 

    We are given direction for this type of restoration in Matthew 18:15-17. Go to the person who has offended you. If that does not work, take another believer to speak with that person together; If that still does not work, bring it to the elders of the church. 

    Regardless as to whether the offense or breach in our relationships are rectified, we are very clearly told that it is our responsibility to forgive, to not let the sun go down on our anger, Ephesians 4:26-27, to take every though captive to the obedience of Christ 2 Corinthians 10:5.

    I have to just add here, that I believe forgiveness is not as much for the one we need to forgive, but for the sake of our own hearts. We must forgive others so that we can have a restored relationship to our Father, Matthew 6:14-15. We must forgive so that we do not let the seed of bitterness grow in our hearts, our hearts that determine the very course of our lives. Proverbs 4:23

    Sadly, forgiveness does not always lead to a restored or healthy relationship. Many great books have been written on this. One of my favorites is “Forgiving What You Will Never Forget by Dr. David Stoop.  It may be necessary to forgive and move on. Dr. Henry Cloud has written a plethora of biblically based information in his books on Boundaries. Both address the process of forgiveness but also the importance of guarding your heart, mind, body, and soul. 

    While forgiveness is probably the most important tool in the process of restoring relationships, Scripture and wisdom give us a whole toolbox full of the tools we need and instructions for use. 

    Often, a simple, heart-felt, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me,” statement is enough. There might be a little sting from an unthoughtful word or action, but other times, there is a lot of work to be done. Some restorations are necessary due to years of neglect or misuse. It is important to approach all of these with wise counsel and humble preparations. 

    Let’s talk about how we can pack our toolbox with the necessary tools for these monumental restoration projects. 

    Ten Tools for Relationship Restoration

    1. Prayer is the most powerful tool in the toolbox. It is available to everyone all of the time. It requires very little instruction for use. It is like the power strip in which every other one of our tools will be connected and have the power to do the work for which it is intended. This is where we must start before we embark on any restoration journey. We need to pray for our own heart to be pure and for the person with whom we need restoration to also have a heart of forgiveness, humility and reconciliation. 

    Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:13-16

    2. Repentance can be a tough place to start, but we are directed in scripture to get the plank our of our own eyes before we attempt to get the sliver out of our friend’s eye, Matthew 7:5. We have all heard the old saying “It takes two to tango.” This is almost always true where restoration is necessary. So before we go to our brother, sister, friend, husband, or wife with an expectation of restoration, we need to be on our knees before the One who died for our sins, asking Him to give us a clean heart. Psalm 51:2

    3. Humility will bring far greater results than pride. If we go into a restoration get-together with pride in our hearts, we are already defeated, because we are going in with a sinful heart.  Having humility in our hearts helps us to be adorned with the other tools necessary for restoration. 

      Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15 NLT

      4. Honesty can be a tough pill to swallow, and it can be equally hard to speak the truth to someone with whom we need restoration. Scripture tells us to speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15, so that we can live a righteous life and do the work God has called us to. We are also called to help restore our brother/sister back into right living and that requires honestly confronting sin but doing it in love, humility and gentleness, Galatians 6:1

      5. Forgiveness is a necessary tool in the process of restoration. We already spent some time discussing this earlier, but it would be good to note that not only do we need to offer forgiveness to others, but we need to be willing to receive it as well. There is an undeniable blessing in receiving forgiveness first from our Father and from our fellow sojournersPsalms 32

      6. Gentleness will yield far better results than harsh words. Think of restoring a relationship like restoring the fine finish on a priceless heirloom. Taking a hammer, harsh chemicals and steel wool will only ruin what has taken years to perfect. We know that harsh words stir up anger, but gentle words are healing to the soul. Proverbs 15:1  Even the prophet Jeremiah asked the Lord to correct him but said, “please be gentle lest I die.” Jeremiah 10:24.

      7. Understanding is a tool that must be used in tandem with all the other tools in our proverbial toolbox. It is something that comes when we are quick to listen and slow to speak, James 1:19If we are gentle, humble, compassionate and full of mercy, we are far more likely to be understanding when the need arises in the restoration process.

      8. Patience is not a tool that is easily utilized. We, by nature and by our ‘immediate gratification’ culture want results immediately. We do not want to wait for the paint to dry or the cement to solidify before we start adding ‘stuff’ to the project. In relationship restoration, often there has been years of hurt or misunderstanding. Trust may have been lost. It is necessary to be patient in the immediate conversations, being quick to listen. (James 1). But is even more important to be patient in the healing process. We cannot expect, short of the work of the Holy Spirit, to have immediate restoration results when the destruction has happened over days, weeks, years, or a lifetime.  James 1:2-4, 12  

      Better to be patient than powerful;
          better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32 NLT

      9. Protection can come in many forms. When I am working with wood, sanders, and saws I have to wear gloves and goggles. In the same way, before we begin a relationship restoration, we need to don the protection described in our instruction booklet for life. We need to put on the “Whole Armor of God” described in Ephesians 6:13-16 NLT

      Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

      10. Wisdom is the tool of knowledge of how to use all of the other tools in the toolbox. James 3:17 tells us, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” And James 1:5 tells us if we lack wisdom to ask God for it, and He will give it to us generously and without judgement. When God gives us that wisdom, He expects us to rely on Him for it, in faith. 

      Depending on God to give us the tools to use and relying on Him to give us the wisdom in knowing how to use them will make our relationship restoration go far more smoothly than if we try to fix things in our own power. His power is made perfect in our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And when I am weak, then am I strong, only through His power.

      Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

      There is nothing like a good toolbox or tool bag to contain my tools. I carry one in my car at all times. You never know when you might need a hammer, screwdriver, or wire cutters. I like to think of LOVE as the toolbox that contains all the above-mentioned tools. It holds everything together in one place. It makes the tools all work together more efficiently. It makes the process more desirable and bearable. It is what we are told to do in 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

      What are some other tools that you might find helpful in relationship restoration? Where do you find them in Scripture? 

      Is there someone you need to pursue for restoration? 

      What is one step you can take today towards that goal? 

      I hope this has been an encouragement to you. Please feel free to comment, share, and join me back here for the final two installations in Destination RESToration.

      Photo credit, Pixel free photos.

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