If we don’t think life is all about our relationships, have a think about how miserable we are when they go poorly. I want to share with you what I think are nine restorative relationship moments.
1. Intimacy – good relationships feature intimacy, which I define as vulnerability shared courageously in the closeness of trust. Our trust empowers another to trust, and that mutual permission grants access to freedom for both we call respect.
2. Meeting – all good relationships require a meeting. But just the same there are times when we should continue to meet when the relationship faces trials, as Hebrews says, “not giving up meeting together… but encouraging one another” (10:25). We all want to back out of moments when meeting takes courage — where meeting will involve confrontation.
3. Confrontation – none of us enjoy being confronted, and not many of us enjoy confronting, but good confrontations — where both parties feel empowered because they’re safe — is so important for relationship happiness. Confrontations implicit of love show that caring is an extension of the truth, because love ensures that the confrontation is productive. Love does not give up nor give in.
4. Listening – no list on good relationship moments would be complete without the word listening. We see it practiced so rarely, and we may hardly experience it. But, if we can be the ones who can start by listening well enough to understand, our relationships will be all better for it. Listening properly requires great faith to leave aside our needs to serve another person’s first.
5. Apology – I’m a big fan of Dr Gary Chapman’s five Languages of Apology, for we all speak ‘sorry’ differently. Every great relationship requires every person to apologise. Apology precipitates forgiveness.
6. Forgiveness – such a complex subject comprising a plethora of relationship moments. Forgiveness is God’s grace, redoubled in human form.
7. Restoration – transactions of forgiveness are fundamental to restoration.
8. Triumph – such a moment is only known beyond the pain of a difficulty reconciled, where both parties add the significant effort of humility to overcome their differences. There can be no triumph moment where one person exudes all the humility, and the other encamps in pride.
9. Exemplification – as two are exemplars of these great relationship moments, a moment is created where others learn.