Tag Archives: restoration

Making Old Things New

old things new

We recently bought a cabin about four hours away from our home in Los Angeles. It was built in 1982, making it 35 years old. For us this is relatively new compared to our primary home which was built in 1930.

One of the fun aspects for me is making small repairs and renewing some of the neglected things around the cabin. I am also crafting or repurposing a few things from cast aside materials and secondhand stores.

This metaphor (or is it simile or analogy?) has been used numerous times to illustrate how God works in us, making us new and doing so with delight. But I think we also have an opportunity to do the same in our relationships with each other.

We live in a culture that tends to throw things away. We replace rather than repair. But I have found that we often trade down rather than up. Our old toaster got much hotter than our new one. So did our iron (you know, the thing that you used before permanent press came along). Unfortunately people do that with relationships as well.

So how do we reverse that in marriage or friendships or at the workplace?

We make old things new:

  • Every time we mend a relationship with forgiveness
  • Every time we treat someone with a more positive attitude
  • Every time we swallow hurtful words
  • Every time we confront with love rather than avoid
  • Every time we listen rather than doing all the talking
  • Every time we make room for the other person’s perspective
  • Every time we power down rather than power up

I can demolish something very quickly. Give me a big hammer and a crowbar and I can reverse someone’s craftsmanship in a mater of minutes (often my own). That doesn’t take skill or maturity. What does take skill is to look at something that has been neglected or damaged and figure out how to lovingly restore it.

When Nan and I were younger that was the choice that was in front of us. We chose the harder path of making old things new by going to counseling. It changed our lives, mine especially. Do you hear a challenge in this? Is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart?

Being Restored

27-foot-Montague-Whaler-being-restored-Colin-King-checking-Bills-progress

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (MSG)

As I look at different translations of the Bible I get diverse perspectives of certain passages. This passage is well known to me and probably to many others as well. What stands out to me in all the versions is this: there is not a one size fits all approach to how we treat people.  We all carry different loads, and we must first assess another person’s situation before we know how to speak to them.

There are those who are easily shamed because of past wounds inflicted upon them. Depending on their response style, some may lean toward withdrawing and shutting down. But there are others who become arrogant and rebellious. They both cannot be treated with the same firmness. But they can both be treated with patience and care.

Nan was reading to me yesterday about shame and how those closest to us are most likely to trigger the greatest amounts of shame. Fear of being shamed is an extremely powerful source of relational anxiety. Both men and women will go to great lengths to protect themselves against any anticipated humiliation. Why is it so intense within the family? The truth is, there is a lot of pressure on men to be seen as the “hero” to his family. Wives and children both want him to succeed at this role. To fail is to incur shame at a deep level. Wives, too, have had the burden of needing to be the “superwoman” of the family.  It can be tough for both men and women to keep up with the image that has been created by them or for them.

The passage above from 1 Thessalonians instructs us to engage with people regardless of where they might fall on a continuum. Some folks will need to be “lifted up” while others may need to be “jammed up” (confronted). This cannot be accomplished with anger, but rather with appropriate assertiveness. Both those who over-perform and under-perform need guidance, which means maintaining the relationship, especially through the tough spots.

The best way to avoid shaming a person is to approach them in private and express care for them first. The overworked person needs reassurance that they will still be seen just as positively if they share the burden with others. The “freeloaders” must be given a vision of the respect they will receive by being a fully engaged participant. If that doesn’t produce results, then the Bible tells us to enlist more authority (Matt.18:15-16).

Always remember that the goal is restoration. While not always achievable, it still remains the goal.