Restoring Others Into Community
By Shellie Arnold
“I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” 2 Cor. 2:8
When the message popped up on my social media page, tears of gratitude filled my eyes. The school friend I’d loved and missed and yearned to reconnect with for decades, had searched for me and found me.
We messaged back and forth and scheduled a phone call. Finally, I heard her voice and I couldn’t stop crying. How I’d missed her!
We talked of our youth and caught up on the time between then and now.
I said, “I’ve missed you so much. You were my best friend. When I lost you I was devastated.”
She responded, “I had no idea you loved me that way.”
“But I called. I left messages through your family. I sent letters.”
The line went silent, then she whispered, “I know. But with what was going on in my life, I couldn’t talk to anybody.”
In that moment, I realized two things. First, my friend’s thoughts regarding things she was ashamed of having done had kept her from receiving my love. Second, even though my efforts appeared unsuccessful, ultimately, they helped accomplish what I’d hoped—she now understood how much I loved her.
It was easy to forgive my friend for the years she’d not responded. As we talked, I hoped our laughter would comfort her and reestablish the rapport we’d enjoyed before. Still, I sensed her resistance in her pauses, her sorrow over years lost.
“I’ve always been your friend,” I said. “And I always will be.”
When we fail, sometimes the biggest barriers to being restored are in our own minds. Others reaffirming their love for us can be what tips the scales toward restoration. We simply need to be told we’re loved one more time.
And isn’t that what Jesus did from the cross? What God the Father does through Scripture? What the Holy Spirit inside us does every day, as He leads us toward becoming more like Jesus.
Heavenly Father, help us recognize and receive your affirming love, so we can rest in it. And as You restore us, let us also seek to restore others.
Shellie Arnold is a multi-published author and sexual abuse survivor who believes any marriage can be healed. She’s a contributor to Wholly Loved Ministries 2019 devotional project. Visit her online at ShellieArnold.com.
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