Restoring Relationships

Relationships Are Worth Restoring

Nathan Smith Personal Stories, Relationships

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Yes, you were probably right.  Or, you know you were wrong and would rather not admit it?  The other possibility is that you just didn’t know what to say, so you said nothing for a very long time.  Regardless a relationship that once was, is not anymore and you still think about it from time to time. If you don’t care anymore, then why do you still think about it?  If they were so wrong and your were so right then why haven’t you just moved on? Of course, every situation is unique but I believe, at our core, we know that relationships are important and we value them more highly than we like to admit. Often we let our pride or excuses help us pretend we don’t care that a friendship has ended. But, in truth, we’re never really proud of it.

I grew up moving a lot. I would live in a town for a year or so and then leave. There was no Internet. There was no free long-distance phone calls. When I said ‘good-bye’ it pretty much meant I would never see those people again as long as I lived. That has held true for about 90% of the people I moved away from in my childhood. Yes, I learned a lot about accepting realties and moving on. I learned how to deal with sadness and how to choose to keep my heart open, even when I knew it was only going to be broken again.  But for all of the good things I gleaned from that part of my life, it also taught me how to quit caring about people after a while so I could move on to the next part of my life.  Yes, it was a sort of necessary skill for my reality, but as I have gotten older it has become an obstacle I’ve had to try to overcome. (Click here to read my post ‘I Was The New Kid’)

Restoring Relationships Can Be A Moving Target

Because I never stayed anywhere long, I seldom had the opportunity to see people change.  I certainly didn’t have people in my life long enough to watch me change. I would learn a hard lesson in one town and then just try and apply it in the new one. Yes, I got a lot of fresh starts but in many ways it kept me from having to deal with the difficulty of changing in front of people.  It takes some grace and humility to change your stance on something especially when you’ve been on the ‘other side’ of an issue for so long.  But to do that in front of the same group of people who watched you be ‘in the other camp’ so adamantly is difficult. For many people it’s just easier to do that somewhere else or with a different group of people. So instead of humbling ourselves and talking through our changes we hide and try to find a new group to help us feel accepted. In that process a lot of relationships get damaged because we simply won’t humble ourselves and acknowledge our need to make changes in our lives. Maybe you’ve been there?  Maybe you are there.  (Click here to read my post ‘Relationships Aren’t Efficient’)

It has been said that “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.”  I believe there is a lot of truth in this.  You cannot fix a problem if you are consumed with fixing the blame. You cannot restore a relationship if your focus is on proving who was right about what. You’re never as right as you think you are and they were never as wrong as you thought they were.  Until we are willing to accept these truths we will continue to think about our broken relationships instead of doing something about them.  Surely, some relationships have to come to an end because of abuse or absolute incompatibility.   Healthy boundaries are very important.  But I would guess that 90% of the time a relationship with a friend could start to be rebuilt with an ‘I’m sorry’ and some clear, vulnerable communication. They are worth it.  But the truth is, you are worth it as well.  Value yourself enough to know you need healthy relationships and solid friendships. (Click here to read my post ‘Being Authentic Might Be Ruining Your Life’)

Conflict is inevitable. Choose to walk through it instead of always trying to run around it. You will grow in the process, your relationships will strengthen through the struggle and you’ll be more equipped to help others in their times of need.  That doesn’t come from reading a book or doing a web search. It comes from humbling yourself and taking action. It is hard. It is scary. And it is so worth it.

From the Bible

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. – James 1:19-20 NIV

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. – John 15:12-14 NIV

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