07 May Relationship Restoration: A Starting Point
The bible tells us that forgiveness is not an option for a Christian,
Eph.5:31-32. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
But one thing that we often separate from forgiveness is reconciliation.
They are not the same. This is a process that goes way beyond forgiveness and may always take time to jell.
The bible also tells us that as Christians we all are in the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Cor 5:19. that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We see that God did two things for the Apostle Paul. First, he reconciled Paul to himself through Christ, and second, he gave Paul the ministry of reconciliation. For the unbeliever, the same principals should still apply. They just make good sense.
Yet anyone for anyone who has been touched by another’s addiction the task of restoring that relationship is extremely tough. As a parent of a former addict I can say that the process took quite some time before I was able to get use to the new individual I was becoming reacquainted with.
When someone has finally been broken from the bondage of addiction they become different. For the believer, they have been forgiven. Old things have passed away and all things become new. Jesus talks about this when He returns to earth.
Rev.21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
For the unbeliever, he feels energized and ready to conquer the world. But for those around the feeling is far from being mutual. From a series of events that previously took place, like lying, stealing, possibly violent episodes that may have taken place, the bond of trust has been broken. As a parent we saw the change, that was evident by his sobriety, but a question always arose; “can we trust you?”
We need to vigilant, but not overbearing. The worst thing we can possibly do is constantly repeat events of the past. But we do have the tendency to question every movement and every word.
We still remember the old person and the previous events that caused us so much misery and pain. And for some, years that have been lost while we were trying to fix something we couldn’t.
We still look at that person as an addict.
We label them as they were, not as they are now. I used to think that we should forget past events completely.
That’s impossible to do. A well know Pastor and speaker said something that rings loud and clear to me and should for anyone faced with starting over.
Whether it be a former addict or a loved one we need to remember, “not to let the past define you, but let it remind you.” In both cases; for the former addict should be reminded of the pain, grief, and suffering the substance has caused. For the loved one, the pain and anguish they experienced because of another’s addiction. The reminder should be never wanting to return to either situation.
Building a relationship of trust is the foundation of any restoration process. Once trust is restored, then healing can begin. The former addict needs to know that they are not going to be constantly chastised and questioned for their every movement.
The loved one needs to let go and not constantly hover over them. They could not control them before and they couldn’t fix them and that didn’t change. Now they just need to let go and hope and pray that the old habits have died and that lessons everyone learned during the rehabilitation process took hold.
This may not be an effortless process, but we must get back into the habit of enjoying life and each other’s company. Life is too short to remain in rehabs, worry, and doubt. Once we get hold of this principle, we can start enjoying life and each other’s company as it was meant to be.