The Power of Restoration
There are worse things in life than losing a friend – I mean, when there is a falling out, disagreement, betrayal or some other conflict that separates two people who truly loved each other. There are far worse things than losing that person… the one on whom you counted to lovingly hold you accountable, give you feedback on new things you are trying and encourage you when you are struggling. I have experienced far worse things than a dispute that has the power to tear two people apart, who have leaned on each other through intense difficulties, cried on each other’s shoulder when walking through grief and sought out that one person, because the good news was so amazing and they should be the first to know.
But then again…. Really, there isn’t. When we lose someone we love, through the death of their body, we grieve and we walk through it. Yes. It wracks us – frequently at first, but trailing off with time. We cry – a lot! We don’t do it on anyone else’s timeline – we do it at our own pace. But eventually the great memories we have of our time with that person, overcomes the heartache of grief more often than not. And you begin to laugh more than you cry; smile more than tear up; sit gratefully for the time you had together, more than you yearn for their presence again. Closure occurs.
When a conflict or whatever, causes the destruction of a friendship, there are so many factors coming into play totally affecting your ability to walk through to healing. Our hearts grieve just as with a death, but there is also hurt feelings, anger and a complete sense of disorientation. That person you loved still has the same phone number; they still live in the same place; your other friends speak of her and what she is doing – without you. The pain is more prevalent. Her presence is all around you, but you can’t reach out for a hug – even though she’s the first person you would turn to if this situation occurred with one of your other friends.
You can’t grieve. You are too afraid that if you do, there could never be healing. Grieving is associated with closure and you don’t want closure. Closure means there is no hope for the friendship’s redemption. Your heart doesn’t stop hurting… You don’t stop crying.
There may have simply been a situation that though was fairly innocuous – perhaps there was something you could have done differently, and you tried to be accountable for that – but it wasn’t enough. Your attempts to work through it are met with contempt and accusations about situations that are twisted out of proportion… and the pain of those accusations cause you to either defend yourself or back off and hope they see reality soon… And either thing you try is misinterpreted.
So, you realize the only thing you can do is lay your friendship at the feet of the Lord. Pray for His restorative power because He is the only one who knows the whole story. He knows both sides. He sees the blind spots of each side of the conflict and can see how Satan will use those blind spots to pit these two friends, who together made huge inroads for God’s Kingdom, against each other.
God begins to show you, besides those things that you were accountable for, what you could have done differently; just little things – but along with everything else she was dealing with, those little things were extreme and impactful for your friend. He shows you, though you may not have realized at the time, other things going on for her that were huge stressors. They may not have been between you and your friend, but in her personal life. Perhaps you didn’t understand the intensity of these situations, or maybe she wanted to keep what was going on to herself, for whatever reason. He shows you how she was trying so hard to keep it together for the sake of everyone around her, and the things that you were responsible for – that you would normally be able to discuss, work through – were the very things sending her over the precipice – and all she could see as she fell was your actions – real or perceived. But He shows you this. He comforts you with this, and then He begins to encourage you to pray for her.
And you pray for others surrounding her to be able to speak God’s love into her. God leads you in how to pray – even the words to say in your prayer. He blesses you daily with affirmation that you are good enough – that what happened is not big enough to cause this and in His time He will in fact redeem this friendship. And in the meantime, He blesses you with other friends to lean on. But no one is the same… No one really can take her place.
Months go by, and you still have the hurt, heartache and confusion, but God’s love and comfort has substantially lessened that burden – especially when you specifically ask God to take it from you. All the while your love for your friend is ever present and represented in your prayers for her. You still filter things through a lens of, “what would she think?” Your pastors encourage you the way that pastors do. You complain to those who are now closest to you how you miss her. You wonder if she misses you.
And one day, she rings the doorbell.
God is good.
This is only one instance where God’s faithfulness restored a relationship I thought was irreparably broken. I know I wrote about my relationship with my dad at one time. That was the hope I held onto… If God could restore my relationship with my dad, this relationship would be restored too!
He has restored other relationships too. Friendships are being rebuilt in ways that have caused my heart to wonder – in utter gratefulness – but wonder nonetheless… How does God know my heart requires that particular person, right here, right now? He has given me exactly the words to say to humbly and from the heart ask forgiveness – I have, myself cause a lot of heartache.
I think there is an urgency with which God is restoring and building up Christians. I think He is indicating how near His Kingdom really is. All the relationships that Satan is targeting are necessary to bring more of God’s lost sheep into His fold. You know how Jesus sends his disciples out two by two – and how Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” I think we need each other’s strength to guard against that evil who uses even God’s Word to subvert the mission we are on.
We need the accountability partners who will help us to see when our ego – and our (very human) self-serving tendency – is overshadowing the work we need to do for the Lord. And those same accountability partners are the ones who push us to work harder, encourage us to encourage others and bless us with a steadfast love so that everything we are doing is a blessing for our Heavenly Father.
I continue to pray for her – my friend – among so many others… because that is what we are called to do. Even if now, days after our reconciliation, she is again distant and not nearly as friendly as a couple of days ago – I am going to continue to pray for God’s ever-present grace to fill my heart – and fill hers. And maybe that was the missing link… Maybe I simply couldn’t see her needs because I didn’t pray for her more when we were close. I know it can’t hurt to pray for everyone more, though.
So, I will pray and watch. If God can heal this broken relationship between two broken people – He is capable of healing everyone’s broken relationships. He will restore our hearts to one another… What does that look like in a broken world? What bounds can hold us apart when we receive restoration through the power of the Holy Spirit and link arms together, in defiance of Satan?? Truth – And – Grace