Forgiveness vs. Restoration

AUTHOR: CAYLA POLSTON

"What made you think restoration wasn't possible? How did you know it was actually time to end things?"


Those are questions my inbox receives more often than you can imagine. Many are in a difficult place themselves; others just have general curiosity. I understand these questions because I am someone who has been haunted by them. It is those questions that inspired me to create this space. 


FORGIVENESS

Most of us have been told at some point, "forgive and forget" or, "if you had really forgiven them you would be 'over it' by now." 

I don't believe this is sound advice at all and I cringe when I hear these statements. These two phrases imply that the person who was hurt now solely wears the responsibility of the repercussions of whatever transgression took place. 

If they can't "forget" what happened it is now "their problem". But, forgetting isn't something you can necessarily control (unless you know something about the human brain that I don't?) In fact, sometimes it isn't wise to forget. If you erased the memory, how would you grow? How would you create healthy boundaries? How would you better your future?

Personally, I don't think we were made to literally forget. I think a better phrase may be, "Forgive, show mercy, heal." The scar will always be there. It may be something you temporarily forget, but time to time you will find yourself reflecting on it.

You know that God has forgiven you and that He expects you to do the same for others (Matthew 6:14-15). He also expects you to give the other party mercy (Luke 6:28). But, I don't see where God calls us to stay in a trap of sin and anguish where we are cut by the same situation repeatedly. 

We are called by Christ to love one another (Mark 12:31). We are told by Paul that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5). But, that doesn't mean you are expected to live in a fantasy world without pain. Jesus himself who mirrored God (Hebrews 13:1) felt emotional pain (John 11:38, John 13:21, Matthew 26:38) It's okay to admit that someone or some organization hurt you. It's okay to remember pain. You were created to feel pain; however, there is a difference between feeling pain and allowing pain to control your future.

Refrain from living years of your life in denial that the events took place, or months hashing out every gory detail with friends as your main conversation piece. The ultimate healing and comfort that you need won't come from those places. Those places will only produce weeds with deeper roots than you can imagine. Instead, focus on healing through God so the record of these wrongs doesn't turn you into a bitter person. 

Trust that God has your back. He is in the business of restoring souls. Webster's Dictionary tells us that restoration means "to make restitution of: give back." What does this mean? It means that God is waiting to give you back what was lost within you as the result of whatever offense has hurt you. "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath." Psalm 37:7-8




RESTORATION

My current marriage isn't all rainbows and butterflies, either. It has required forgiveness over the years. It has required not only me showing mercy, but also receiving it from my husband. It has demanded that I ask God to help us. Thankfully, I have a partner who understands that restoration is a verb. He knows that in order for us continue growing our marriage in Christ, that God has to prune that bad fruit (John 15:1-17) as we actively continue to grow in Him.

I can see restoration in action as I watch our individual and mutual growth. I see progress and maturity as we both navigate to make better choices over time. I am given the freedom to discuss how situations have effected me. I am encouraged to feel and grow in my own time. It isn't instant, but it happens. There are seasons of pain, but at the end of those seasons I watch new fruit grow. Watching this growth confirms that when I choose restoration in this specific relationship, I am choosing an emotionally and physically healthy path for myself and my family. We are protecting each other and I feel confident in the hope that when (not if) we hurt each other again, we will get through it (1 Corinthians 13:7).




LM ACTIONIf the party who wronged you is attempting to grow in the Holy Spirit and the "tree" of the relationship is producing fruit, then it may be in your best interest to keep the relationship. After all, restoration is important to God and ending relationships isn't always the easiest answer, either.

The Bible doesn't speak about destructive and abusive behaviors the way that we do in the 21st century. It usually does not separate physical, emotional, mental, or sexual sin. However, you can find many verses where it condemns behavior that is destructive to relationships. To consider restoration, I encourage you to look at the fruit that relationship and individual has produced. Use discernment. You alone can not save any relationship...relationships are a two way street. You can not be the other person's Holy Spirit.

-- Cayla


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