I sit with a friend across the table, dishes removed and check paid. We linger, wanting more…more conversation, more connection, more depth of understanding.
Her eyes meet mine then immediately she glances back down at her folded hands. “I just wish I could see that the changes I’ve made in my life will make a difference in the future,” she says longingly, “and I’m tired of working on the same old stuff. You know?” she adds, briefly looking up at me for confirmation. I nod my head, knowingly. I know her story. It is one of huge triumphs over much pain ~ most of it brought on by others. She goes on.
“I just want to know it’s going to make a difference…if not now, someday,” she repeats. I take a deep breath and wait. This isn’t a scene from a movie. She’s not some actress with a script waiting for my next line after delivering hers. There is no script. No swift reply. No trite quote or glibly stated Bible verse will soothe the ache of a yearning heart…
There are no easy answers when real hearts are hurting.
We sit still…both of us for a time, before I offer up the word “restoration”. Her eyebrows lift. “Restoration?” she asks. Using my phone, I look up the dictionary definition and begin reading aloud.
“The act of restoring,” I say, emphasizing the word act. “Reconstruction. Restitution of something taken away or lost,” I add, searching her face for some sign of understanding. Finally, “The state of being restored.”
“O-k-a-y,” she says, drawing each syllable out as if to say, so where are you going with this?
We want so badly to be at that place of healing, a place of freedom, that we don’t recognize we’re already well on our way. And just when we think we see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, either we stand back and critique our progress as ‘slow’ or someone else comes along and does it for us.
Most of the time, restoration is a process, not a one-time event.
I think back on our kitchen restoration. When we bought our 1932 cottage, the kitchen had gold linoleum on the floors, very old wallpaper with a teakettle pattern and dark, dilapidated cabinets. As much as we wanted things to change quickly, if we hadn’t gone about restoration properly, we would not have been happy with the results. Results may look good at first, but time will always reveal the truth.
If we had laid flooring right on top of the old, the floor wouldn’t have been stable. If we had painted over the wallpaper instead of removing it, we would’ve been just covering up the layers of dirt and grime instead of removing it. The cupboards surely would’ve given way from daily use if we hadn’t taken the time to first repair them, then sand and paint.
I reach across the table and place my hand on top of hers. “Do you see,” I ask, “that true restoration is a process that takes time? And while there’s usually multiple steps, we have to believe that the end result will all be worth it.”
Mid-restoration isn’t necessarily pretty…but it’s still functional. If someone had walked into my kitchen mid-restoration, they would see the lights on, the water running and the outlets surging with electricity…even though the walls were stripped down to the lathe and plaster, the floor was bare and the cabinet doors were completely removed.
Only I held the vision for what it would look like after the completed project.
God has a vision for your restoration.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
He knows exactly what He wants your life to look like afterwards. After the betrayal. After the addiction. After the abuse. After the pitfall. After the brokenness. After the fear. After all the damage.
God doesn’t do short cuts.
He knows what He’s doing and He’ll never compromise the work He’s doing in us just so we can look good. He’s a God of integrity. Of patience.
Hold on. Keep working toward your healing. Keep reaching for what seems like the impossible. Keep seeking Him. Keep trusting.
Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you, is faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil 1:6
*This is an updated post, reprinted due to the fact that I’ve been under the weather all weekend. Thank you for reading and letting it minister you afresh.