July 25, 2017
Do you remember your first love? I know that’s probably a rhetorical question, as moments and seasons like these are hard to forget. But what comes to your mind when you think about it? Do waves of nostalgia wash over you? Maybe sadness? Hurt? Maybe it’s all too fresh to face, or maybe you feel numb to it, like it was so long ago that it no longer bears true significance. You know, “the past is the past; move on”. Over the years, I’ve identified with almost every one of these, and as time has gone on, I am able to fully reflect; without attachment, resentment, a hardened heart, or the lingering sting of unrequited promises.
An Open Letter to My First Love
It’s hard to think about who I was before you. To think that I was just evolving into a teenager, on the start of a seven year journey of a lifetime is still a wonder to me. My curiosity was endless, my heart in its most innocent form, my soul constantly wandering about as I imagined what my place in this world would be.
I was captivated first by your words. I’d never heard anything like them, and I was intrigued at the way they seemed to draw people into your presence. You were magnetic. It wasn’t long before they seemed to be all that mattered, despite the actions that often compromised them. I was drawn to you in a way I didn’t know was possible, with a magnitude that my young heart could hardly process.
As time went on, we had our ups and downs, as anyone does. Or so I’d thought. I’d never known anything else; I grew up with you. It wasn’t until seven years later, in college, living together, that it would all crumble – for good. And amidst all of the cracks of our relationship, were the pieces of who I would become when it was all said and done. For this, I thank you.
You taught me that life and death are truly in the power of the tongue. Your words breathed life into me, dancing in my mind, with promises of the future. Other times, they cut far beneath the surface of my skin, to places inside of me I never knew existed. You showed me the depths of my emotions. The extreme highs and lows became like a drug to me. I thought that one must always be present for the other to exist, and so in a way, I yearned for both.
You taught me the influence that a single person can have over your life. I learned how much of a blessing this could be, but I also learned how dangerous it was. Because of you, I explored territory within myself and in the world that opened my eyes and my heart beyond the shell of my childhood. But in that, I lost parts of myself and filled the missing pieces in with parts of you. You taught me the beautiful authenticity in vulnerability. Of the capacity I had to love another. You taught me how to fly with a broken wing, and I learned how much a broken wing could change the direction you fly in.
But above and beyond all else, because of you, I found Jesus in a way that turned my world upside down. I met a Jesus that the stories I’d heard as a child did no justice to, a Jesus that would pick me up and walk through the darkness with me when I never thought I’d be whole again. A Jesus that poured love into every hole in my heart and gave life to my broken spirit. I met Jesus, or should I say, He met me, in the depths of the wilderness when I no longer cared about what my place in the world was or if I had a place in the world at all. Night after night as I wondered what was next, I found rest in His arms and strength in His Word. I realized that my first love was never you at all… how easy it is to forget. I realized that He’d never left, and that He’d heard every tear, every prayer, even when I couldn’t find the right words and all I could ask was for Him to make it stop, please make it stop. He was always there. And though I spent so much time after you, wondering why it had to take so long for me to learn and leave, He showed me it was necessary for the woman I would become.
He spoke to me and told me, “This is the beginning”. He told me that I couldn’t fathom the lives that this would impact, the young women that I would meet in the midst of their own darkness, like he met me in mine. I found true love. I found a love without restriction, without condition. A love that looked straight through my shame and said “You are mine”. The kind of love that you can’t ever fully process because it doesn’t come from this earth. The kind of love that we don’t deserve yet are given anyway, the kind of love that turns your world around.
Rock bottom became the foundation for the journey that I have embarked on. So no, I’m no longer filled with hurt, sadness, or the lingering sting of unrequited promise. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, and I thank God for the testimony that brought me back to Him.