Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Restore: To Put Back into It's Former State

Lately, I have been more and more intrigued and drawn to antique furniture..or even just OLD furniture that, by all normal standards, wouldn't qualify as an "antique". There is character in these pieces. There are stories in them. Stories of pain. Stories of love, Stories of a life well-lived. Much like our human bodies age and change, so do these furniture pieces. They don't quite look the same at the end of life as they did at the beginning. I don't expect that, I will look the same at the end of my life, and I hope that my face? tells the story of a life well-lived.

But--back to the furniture--so many times we try to "restore" old furniture back to it's former beauty. If you look at the steps required in "restoring" furniture, it's painstakingly detailed. But, honestly? It's all a facade. Because you simply CAN'T turn back the hands of time. You can't untell it's story. You can unlive it's life. And that's okay, with all it's dings and scratches. With all it's worn-down exterior. Was a story. Was a life.

And yet, restoration, is a beautiful thing. Restoring something gives it an opportunity to live another life. To tell another story. And while that doesn't necessarily remove the old stories, the new ones may have more love and less hurt. More beauty and less pain. And the truth is? Some furniture won't ever be restored. Sometimes, it's just not important enough to restore. But sometimes? It is. And in those times, restoration is the opportunity to start a new story. Restoration in our own relationships give us that chance, too.

There have been a few times in my life where I was immensely hurt. No one intended to hurt me, I believe. It just happens sometimes. In one particular case, I remember feeling cast aside. I felt like I no longer held any value. I no longer felt any love. And it hurt. And it angered me. And, finally, as it always does (when not handled the right way), it made me bitter. Oh-so-bitter. I couldn't look at these people. I couldn't talk about these people. I didn't even want to remember these people. I was hurt. And I was letting the enemy bind me in that hurt. But, there came a day when I realized that....If I were being honest? I owed these people a lot. I might even have owed them my very life. And the hurt of that one incident didn't discount all the others. They were just ALL part of the story. OUR story.

But, you see? You can't simply just put a new coat of paint on relationships to restore them, the way you do furniture...And there are a lot of things that can get in the way of restoration (like pride, time, listening to the wrong voices, and an unwillingness to mend the relationship). But, for every obstacle keeping us from restoration, there's a step on the ladder that leads us to it (like forgiveness FIRST, humility, patience, open hearts, and trust in God)

So, I forgave. Daily. Every time I wanted to cry. Every time I felt alone. Every time I felt angry again. I know, I know...some of you out there are probably much better at forgiveness than I am. You can probably do it once and be done with it...but for me? It was definitely a process.

Then I practiced a little humility. I was not so perfect myself...and I am always thankful when people don't require me to gravel at their feet. So I knew, that when the time came for restoration. When the opportunity presented itself..I wanted to exude the very forgiveness I had already extended with love and grace. I wanted to make sure no one felt worse after speaking to me than they did before. I wanted to be humble. Because I? Am no saint.

Then I tried my hand at patience. You might remember from HERE how well I do with patience. But I HAD to trust , that God didn't leave things broken..and that, while He was working things in me, He was also working things in the other people involved. Patience is really hard. Giving up is a lot easier. That's why so many people just give up on relationships instead of being patient for restoration.... Because practicing true patience that something will eventually come to pass? sometimes feels impossible.

And finally, I trusted God. I trusted Him to walk me through the journey. I trusted Him to give me the things to speak that would bring life and not death to situations. I trusted Him to be the restorer of relationships.

Because, much like an old piece of furniture...you can't untell a story....but, when there's restoration? You have the chance to tell a new one. Maybe even a better one.

I know that we all can look at our lives and see relationships that need restoration. That need new stories. Hurts that we have held onto SO long, we have truly convinced ourselves it doesn't matter to us anymore...but, deep down? it does. So, I encourage you, to examine your own heart's position. To start removing the calluses that tell you you are in the right (even if you ARE). To start letting God do what He's wanted to do all along. Much like furniture can't restore itself without the Restorer's hand, you won't truly be able to restore relationships in your life with Him leading you. And He? Really wants to lead you. He wants your relationships to have another story. He desires to see healing and restoration in your life. He LOVES you. You know, when you look at it like that, it's obvious that we can learn a lot from Him....

"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that."   Eph. 5:1-2 (Msg.)

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together!" Psalm 133:1

"Now, all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation."  2 Cor. 5:18

And, finally,

"Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." Col. 3:14 (ASB)

Because without love? forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration? Are impossible to accomplish.

Til I learn to love the way HE loves,
*Ashley Lou*


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