A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had a first love, a first boyfriend. (Man, was that a long time ago!)
Do you remember your first love? Wasn’t it magical?
I was 19. He’d started liking me late that summer, but wisely and patiently kept his intentions hidden. I had no clue he was testing me by moving to different seats in church and seeing if I would come find him (which I did). He gave me a Bible to replace one I’d lost on the bus, and I still didn’t get a clue! Knowing that, as a military man, he’d already gotten orders to go overseas the following summer, he still asked me out at our church singles’ New Year’s Eve all-nighter. Later, he told me that he spent several months studying me (not in a creepy way) and cultivating our friendship. I appreciated that.
I’d never gotten roses and romantic cards before. I’d never been told how beautiful I was or taken out to dinner. I’d never had long, intense conversations with a man I was growing to love. I’d never been kissed until that fateful day, when we stopped at a remote location near my home at sunset. I instantly became addicted to kissing.
He wanted to get engaged before he went overseas, but I had already gotten some solid biblical teaching on relationships and dating, and I didn’t want to. I informed him that if he told his stepfather about us and he agreed to bless us, we would have plenty of time to get engaged and married when he returned.
You see, he was Caucasian, and I was not. His stepfather was very racist and regularly made racist remarks, according to my boyfriend. I didn’t want any children of mine to live under the shadow of a hateful grandfather. I didn’t want to have to explain to our children why they couldn’t go to Grandpa’s, why he didn’t like them and what the n-word was.
Many marriages have worked when the in-laws didn’t approve or when race was a negative factor. The Lord gave me wisdom to understand it wouldn’t have worked for us. The day before it would have been a year, he called to inform me that his dad’s response to our relationship was negative. We broke up.
Though it was very painful, we knew it was for the best. We both moved on, but that first love lingered in my heart for a long time. In reflecting back on that first love, I realize I’ve learned several important things that have carried me through not only other romances, but life itself.
Lessons learned from my first love:
1. Often the best blessings and strongest lessons are unexpected. I wasn’t looking for love; it found me in the heart of a friend I’d come to cherish. The lessons are among the other 10 things listed below.
2. Communication is king. We didn’t just babble about our love for one another. We asked each other lots of good questions and really got to know each other.
3. Express gratitude and appreciation often. Don’t take them for granted. We got this one right.
4. Attend church together regularly. Read and study the Bible and memorize Scripture together. We memorized whole chapters that I can still recall today.
5. Don’t get involved with a man addicted to the flesh. Like many men were and are, he was addicted to pornography and masturbation, and I couldn’t be the one to help him. He needed the guidance and prayerful accountability of older men in his life, which I encouraged, but the entire time we were dating, I don’t think he ever did. His problems influenced our relationship, and the church attendance and Scripture memorization didn’t help us.
6. Learn to set strong boundaries in your love relationships. Because of his addiction, we got more involved physically than we should have. I learned what I can and can’t allow in my dating relationships.
7. Don’t neglect your friends, family and church while dating. We got this one right, too … just not often enough.
8. Don’t be afraid to be the voice of reason when emotions are flying. I had to advocate for us to trust God in the matter of his family when hormones and emotions were raging and he wanted to get engaged before he left.
9. Know that if something you really want doesn’t happen, God has a better plan. I discovered that His will for me focused on singles, missions, worship, prayer, teaching and writing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get married, but I’m content serving the Lord and His children as a single with these callings.
10. Disappointments are His appointments. Let the Lord show you how to launch out from your pain. I ended up going to Job Corps, getting a certificate in business, learning about my callings and using my business skills to get through college.
11. Time doesn’t heal all things; God does. I’m glad He is my Jehovah Rapha, my God Who heals me.
What did you learn from your first love?