The longer between visits home, the more I romanticize how perfect time with family will be. With almost nine months between the last trip home, I had created all sorts of unrealistic expectations. Plus as an independent contractor who doesn't get paid when she isn't working, I planned to work electronically while back in Kentucky. And to further stack the deck, my aging dog had suffered a stroke weeks before the trip and was too fragile to leave in SC. It was a no-brainer. She had to make the trip with me. Thankfully, she is a wonderful dog. But all these factors along with circumstances back home created a perfect storm.
With confidence, I loaded the rental car and started the day-long journey. The mountains were beautiful and the trip pleasantly uneventful. I ached for a bit of a rest from the day to day in Columbia, with this trip. However, within a few hours of arriving in my hometown, the vision of perfect family time began fading. Everyone had problems of their own. Everywhere I looked, there was serious relationship stress. Housing stress. Job stress. Financial stress. Family stress. You name it! Big stress permeated the air. The entire two weeks I was home, tensions ran dangerously high. Tempers flared. And hurtful words were shouted. There was so much pain that I suddenly remembered why I moved away! And was unsure if I wanted to return in December. I hated that feeling. There are times when we are faced with the realities of life and must release our fantasy. Was this one of them?
Driving back to SC with the big red dog, I was more keyed up than when I had left. Realizing that grudges only hurt the person holding them, I decided to give the situation a few weeks to "marinate" before making a final decision about December. Knowing that God would have to move a few mountains before then.
And He surely did.
Within a month, relationship issues back home righted themselves. So did the housing and job problems. Most importantly to me, one of the people who had been extremely angry with me, deeply regretted his behavior. While this did not undo the damage done, it was a step toward healing. I was faced with a decision: Either hold onto the hurt and refuse to accept this olive branch, or give him the chance to make the wrong right. And to earn my trust again. To restore harmony.
I was reminded of all the times I have been angry with God and grieved His heart. Never once has He held it against me or made me pay for it. Yes, I've had to deal with the consequences of my actions, but restoration has always been possible with God. And always will be! Therefore, I clearly need to offer the chance of restoration to those who hurt me.
Because of God's patient restoration in my life, I have been taught the value of allowing a precious period of restoration with others. And can only pray they allow it when I grieve their hearts.
Oh yeah, I'll be home for Christmas!
What's your favorite example of restoration?