Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The First Two Steps In Relationship Restoration


Linda and I are always meeting with people to restore relationships. Whether marriages, families, friendships, or working relationships, interpersonal strife-issues have not diminished. Everyone suffers such things.

Are you in a struggling relationship? Here are the first two steps of relationship restoration:

  1. Get right with God.
  2. Be yourself searched-out by God.
Some thoughts on Step 2:

  • Few relationship problems are the fault of just one person. Yes, sometimes it is really just one person who "is the problem." But this is rare. If you are in a struggling relationship begin by considering yourself to be the problem, or at least that part of the problem you can do something with. This is important because it is common for people to talk about the "other person" rather than look at their own self.
  • You are not a "victim" of the other person's behaviors. Yes, there are true victims; viz., people who are victimized/persecuted/etc. for nothing they have done. But if you are in a struggling relationship the other person is not the cause of your bad attitudes and behaviors. Take responsibility for these, rather than blame the other. Your sin has no excuse. Do not use sin against you as an excuse to sin against others. (Think here of what Jesus said as he hung on the cross.)
  • Look to your own flaws. C.S. Lewis wrote that the true Christian's nostrils must be constantly attuned to the inner cesspool. Do not incline your nose towards the cesspools of others. Your own inner pollution will be enough for you to handle in this life. Clean up your own act. Or, better, allow God to clean up your act. The David-attitude of Psalm 51 is instructive here: "Create in me [not "them"] a clean heart O God. Renew a right spirit in me." Psalm 129:33-34 says: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Note the six personal pronouns here. Me, my, me, my, me, me.
  • Be accountable for your own part in the struggling relationship. When God shows you things you have said or done to contribute to the relationship failure, then: 
1) identify them; 
2) confess them to God and receive forgiveness; and 
3) confess them to the person you have hurt (sinned against). 

When you confess use words like this: "I was wrong when I did/said ____________ to you. Will you forgive me?" When someone says words like this to you, forgive them, as Christ has forgiven you. And do not use the 'but' word ("But, I wouldn't have degraded you if you had not...").

Get things right with God.
Let God get things right within you.
Confess, as needed, to God and others.

When both people in a relationship turn to God and allow themselves to be examined by God, and take responsibility for their own part in the team failure, expect good things to happen, and God to empower this.


My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

I am writing... (because I believe God has called me to write)...

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (Co-edited with Janice Trigg - June 2019 - I've submitted the manuscript.)

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I will then co-write our book on Relationships