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What a Mysterious Old Man Taught Me about Restoring Relationships

“Honesty is a fine foundation from which to build upon; for if one was to really know what another thinks and how they feel…they would surely treat each other differently.” – Jeremy Aldana

What a Mysterious Old Man Taught Me about Restoration

When I was in college I went to the grocery store around Christmas time. My shopping cart housed tinsel and wrapping paper. Every few aisles I saw an old man with a wild beard and kind eyes. We’d part ways but kept bumping into each other throughout the entire store.

“You know, it’s no accident that we keep running into each other. Doing a little Christmas shopping? I’m Chauncey Riverwalker,” he said, introducing himself.

We chatted about life in Marquette and then out of the blue he asked if I was an artist, to which I responded, “Yes…I’m in art school right now!” [‘That’s strange,’ I thought…and wondered how he’d guessed.]

After a few minutes more he offered some wise advice, “Every morning, before your feet hit the floor, thank God for the gift of creativity he’s given you. Keep using your gift. Keep sharing it with the world.”

He told me about his life and the passion he had for caring for the watersheds and rivers in the Upper Peninsula and then we went our separate ways to finish shopping.

After making it through the checkout I saw Chauncey by the door. “I meant to tell you this earlier. You need to call your dad. It’ll make everything better.” A little shocked, I offered a quiet, “Okay, thanks.”

You see, Chauncey didn’t know my dad had been traveling for work for months. He didn’t know my dad and I didn’t get to talk all that much and that our relationship felt a little rocky and disjointed. I hadn’t shared that part of my story with him but somehow, he knew.

He knew and he was calling me to commit to restoration. By being intentional. By reaching out.

And his intuition or prompting from the Spirit made all the difference in my relationship with my dad.


Can I be Your Chauncey today?

We all have one or two relationships that are a little rocky, a friendship that isn’t thriving like it used to, or a family tie that’s dwindling.

Can we talk about restoring those relationships in 5 minutes a day?

This is no quick fix. No “woo-woo” remedy. This is about being intentional and it’s about setting aside five minutes a day as a way to begin the journey towards restoration and reconnection.

Because if we just think about our disjointed friendships but don’t take action, not much will change.

Making time for restoration is an easy practice to remember if you link it up with something you do every day. Breakfast or your lunch break perhaps?

In the first 30 seconds…

Make a concentrated effort today to foster healing in bruised relationships. In the first 30 seconds think about who you long to reconnect with. I’m sure the person will come to mind easily. Did several people pop into your head? Write their names down if it helps.

Then pray…

Spend a minute or two praying for the people on your list and for your connection to them. Ask God to surround the relationship with peace, restoration, healing, forgiveness, a receptive heart, joy — what ever you feel called to ask for.

Depending on the nature of the relationship and the hurt/disconnection that’s present you may need to spend your 5 minutes a day solely in prayer — pressing into this for several weeks.

If you just don’t feel as close to an old friend spend the last two minutes reaching out.

Time to Reach Out!

After spending time in prayer make a point to reach out to your friend or family member. Send a simple text, email, or note in the mail. Call them on their way to work to let them know you’re thinking of them. Schedule a get-together with them. Drop some cookies off at their house on your way home from picking up the kids at school.

In the flurry of everyday life we forget how these simple gestures can connect us. We forget what we really mean to one another. By voicing your feelings and letting your family and friends know you care we can begin to treat each other differently. How we ought. We can begin to show love again.

Be deliberately present in others’ lives.

Repeat the Process!

When you’re eating breakfast tomorrow – repeat the process. Think. Pray. Reach out. Connect.

What’s your story? Tell me, in the comments below, who you long to reconnect with.
There was so much mystery surrounding Chauncey but with the power of Google I managed to learn a little more about him and even found a picture of him!

6 comments… add one

  • Laura September 4, 2014, 2:48 pm

    Oh man… I cringed a bit as a scrolled down and I knew you wouldn’t tell this story without requiring action. Yep, I have relationships I need to restore. One in particular that’s almost haunted me. :sigh: I guess I’ll take the plunge, Chauncey.

    You’re awesome, BTW. <3

    • Alysa September 4, 2014, 2:54 pm

      Hugs for your tears, friend! If you ever need to talk more + pray about that specific relationships – I’m here.

      Haha…new nickname? ;)

      You’re awesome too.

  • Katy September 7, 2014, 12:42 pm

    I have to be honest, I read this one and sighed because I knew I had some work to do that I didn’t really want to do. Sometimes it’s hard to poke a hole in a wall built to protect vulnerability. So I left it a week, and read it again this morning. I decided I could just say a prayer and that would be good enough. A few minutes later, I began thinking of a funny story in the relationship. Then a text message formulated in my head. The text was sent. A sweet, brief conversation ensued.

    I love that you said it doesn’t have to be a “woo woo” moment. Relationships can be kept on the positive side of things through little happy moments, yes?

    Thanks for the challenge. Turns out when you start with a prayer, the rest isn’t so hard…

    • Alysa September 8, 2014, 10:12 am

      Oh Katy! I’ve been there too! Those moments when all you can say is, “Nope. Not going there today!” Glad you let it sit for a while and that eventually had a short and sweet convo with this person. Sometimes restoration happens one small moment at a time.

      Proud of you.

  • Relyn September 11, 2014, 9:02 am

    I just had to tell you that I love your heart. I love that you are willing to be transparent, and I love that you start with prayer. All important endeavors should begin with prayer. The thing that struck me most was that you took the time to talk to someone in the grocery store. I probably wouldn’t have. I would have been focused on getting in and out and marking another item off my to do list. If you had been like I often am, you would have missed so much. And so would we.

    • Alysa September 11, 2014, 9:16 am

      You’re so sweet Relyn! Grateful for your fellowship here.

      I do have my moments of light-speed grocery shopping but I love the incredible conversations that happen when I kick the pace down a notch and shop a little slower. A cashier once told me the story of her husband leaving her to start a new relationship with her cousin. An elderly man shared of his work at the mop factory and his love for retirement. A grocery bagger quietly spoke of how he often feels friendless. An elderly woman talked of the deep loneliness she feels from living alone and receiving infrequent visitors. All this from a simple question from me, “How’s your day going so far?” I think that question trips up the usual, “How are you?” That I like; that and meeting folks where they are in life. Sometimes people speak into my life at the store, sometimes I’m the one offering comfort and encouragement.

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