Wow. I have to say the response to the last few posts, particularly from those of you who know me In Real Life, has been overwhelming. I’ve been receiving pretty much a constant flow of comments and messages from belovedests from all around the world, expressing excitement and saying such beautiful, encouraging things.
You all seem so excited, so happy for me. And some of you have messaged me sharing from your own experiences, saying there are things in what I’ve written that resonate so strongly with you, that to see it written and shared in this way is an inspiration to you. And you even seem to appreciate The Cheeky that underpins a lot of my writing style.
To be able to write, and write things that reach people…that give them a new and different view of the world, of themselves, of others, and of God…is all I’ve ever wanted to do. That’s always been where my heart is. That’s been my dream since I was a 9 year-old girl writing idealistic girlish stories – armed with an HB pencil and a refill pad – about best friends and cats and finding and losing then finding again.
I’ve taken a circuitous route, via 20-something years in Planet Corporate. But those years were all part of the journey, and I believe exactly where God wanted me at the time. Those years taught me so much – they grew strength and wisdom and courage and compassion and resolve into me…things that otherwise may never have had a chance to grow the way they did, let alone surface.
So, as 2015 rolls out before me, it seems as though God is bringing to life the dream that He placed into my guileless, trusting, 9 year-old heart.
And the beauty of it all is that the vehicle He’s used which has elicited the most encouraging response…is the story of contestant number 10, who became My Ardent Pursuer, who became My Sweetheart.
So now, it’s time for me to share a little more on that. Just to close the loop, so to speak.
The events I’ve written about took place about 8 months ago. A lot has happened in the last 8 months.
We are no longer together. We decided to stop seeing each other 6 months ago. Which is about when I started writing this series of posts.
It was a very difficult decision for both of us. We sat on my couch and hugged and cried and held onto each other and cried some more. We had become really close. He had become my best friend. Neither of us really wanted to end things. But we both knew, it was the right thing to do. We both had so much respect – for each other, for who the other person was, and for our relationship – that we knew the only way we could honour it for the beautiful thing that it was, and to honour one another, was to end it at the time we did.
Two months together might not seem like a long time, and in many ways it isn’t. But those two months have left such a beautiful mark on me. They have been the catalyst for God to bring life-changing ground-breaking healing into my heart, my life, and my other relationships. It’s healing that I have been crying out to God for, from the depths of my heart, for most of my life.
6 months ago, when we ended things, there was so much I didn’t know, so much I didn’t understand, so much I wasn’t ready to take in or acknowledge – about the significance of that relationship, about what God was really doing, and the impact it would have on me in the months following as I have processed it all…and have learned to hear God’s heart, and let His heart heal mine.
There is a lot that I know now, that I didn’t know – or maybe didn’t want to know – 6 months ago.
I didn’t know that he loved me. But he did.
I didn’t know that I loved him. But I did.
I didn’t know that My Sweetheart was a Love-Gift from God. But he was.
I didn’t know that My Sweetheart, was actually My First Love. But he was. He is. He always will be.
He is the first man who ever loved me.
He loved me with such sincerity, such respect, such integrity, such honour. He loved me more than he loved himself.
It amazes me that all I did was finally be OK with being me, with accepting myself, with not making apologies for who I was – and I somehow managed to get myself loved without even trying or realising it. It took me completely by surprise, to the point where I didn’t even recognise this until months after we ended things.
It is the first time in my life that I have come away from such an encounter with any man with my self-esteem not only intact, but enriched. He validated everything about who I was. He gifted me with a confidence that can only come after one has been truly loved by another for who they are.
I had become so accustomed to being treated a certain way by men, that when he treated me with such dignity, right to the very end, it disoriented me. Where is the part where he tells me all my faults and says no one could ever be with someone like that? Where is the part where he judges me harshly for my looks, my intelligence, my career history? Where is the part where I come away feeling worthless, decimated, rejected and completely unlovable? In the 6 months since we parted, I have been unable to find that part. I have looked for it, and looked for it some more. But I have been unable to find it. Because it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there.
My First Love challenged, and then completely broke apart, a core belief that had been suffocating my heart for most of my life. A core belief that I am unlovable. I’ve been picking up the pieces of that broken core belief for the last 6 months, and throwing them back where they belong, which is into oblivion. That lie doesn’t belong on me. That lie doesn’t belong on any of us.
It is God’s greatest source of sorrow and heartbreak to see so many of us burdened, weighed down and held back by such lies. God wants us free of them. His heart for us all, His desperate desire for each of us, because of His relentless unconditional love for each of us, is that we are set free of such lies.
God used My First Love to set me free of those lies. I can’t begin to describe the wonder with which I consider this. And the awe I have for my God, who doesn’t belong in any silly little religious boxes, and brings people and situations we don’t expect, in ways we don’t expect, to show us more of Himself. To show us more of His love.
My First Love always said he wanted to protect my heart. And not only did he protect it, he nurtured it, encouraged it, cherished it and held it with such tender affection, such care. He opened up parts of my heart that had long since been shut down.
I had no idea how shut down my heart really was, until I met someone who showed me what an open heart looks like and how beautiful it is. How God-breathed it really is. This man, by Christianese prayer-of-salvation standards a ‘non-Christian’, had no idea that – with every kind word, with every caring gesture, with every understanding hug – he was showing me something of God’s Heart in his. And it was extraordinary.
I could see God in him. I could see God in his heart. God was reaching me, beginning to heal all my hurt and broken parts and open up parts of my heart that had been locked down for years, through the love that He had put into this man’s heart for me.
Never again will I limit or doubt my God. How can I, after this?
My First Love and I have had no contact at all in the 6 months since we ended things. This is because shortly after we ended things I messaged him asking him not to contact me anymore. Because I said I wanted to be able to ‘move on’. I knew that he would respect my wishes for no contact, so I knew that he would not try to contact me.
At times I have missed him so desperately though. But I also know that if the reasons why we ended things haven’t changed – and they haven’t changed for me – then further contact would have only served to confuse and hurt us both, and hold us both back, no matter how much we both may have wished for one another at times over the last 6 months.
The irony of my stated wish to ‘move on’ is that it has taken, it is taking, quite a while for me to be able to do that. There have been times over the last 6 months when I have been very frustrated that I haven’t been able to just ‘shake it off’ (thanks Taylor Swift) more quickly and actually move on. But I have realised that to move on from something so significant, it deserves the respect of time to fully appreciate and learn from it.
And even in this, I am learning. I am learning to be kind to myself. I have had to learn to feel things, as part of the grieving process that comes with the loss of any love. Feelings have always terrified me. I have always preferred to push feelings down or ignore them or fight them off. But God has been teaching me how to feel again. Even the feelings that don’t feel comfortable, that don’t feel good, they serve a purpose.
It sounds strange I know, learning how to ‘feel’. But that’s part of what I need to learn. If I am ever to love again, and next time to know that it is love that I am feeling, and to embrace it instead of run from it or be suspicious of it or fear it.
So I am making progress, towards being able to move on completely. I am learning that these things take the time that they take. And I know I will get there.
At the time we parted, we said that we would have no regrets. But I do have regrets. My biggest regret is that My First Love may have come away from our time together with hurt, not healing. It hurts me, to think that I may actually have hurt him. God has spoken to me about things in the last few months, and I’ve come to realise that there were things that I didn’t do or say in my relationship with My First Love, that perhaps God could have used to reach him, to heal and open up parts of his heart as well…if I had done or said those things.
But I was still quite shut down. Those parts of me hadn’t opened up yet. I wasn’t ready. So I have to trust God to make up for my weaknesses and trust that He will reach, touch and heal My First Love in His way and His time.
My First love, he was searching for something. We all are. I could see it in him, this hunger, for something real. For something honest and true and faithful. I wonder if he was so drawn to me, not just because of me, but because of God in me.
This relationship, in God’s eyes, was never just about me, about healing and loving me. My First Love was there too. And God loves him just as much as He loves me. And God’s heart for him – my heart for him too – is that he finds the love and peace and acceptance and happiness that he has always longed for. That we all long for.
My First Love had such an open, honest heart and he respected and cared for and treated me better than any man ever has. There was a lot of understanding and empathy between us. I am grateful for the time I had with him. He wasn’t perfect but none of us are, and even in his imperfection I don’t think I have ever felt safer or more appreciated by any man before. That’s why he was God’s Love-Gift to me.
I have no idea where My First Love is at now. It has been 6 months, so he will have been dating again and by now will probably have met someone else. But that won’t change the love that God has put into my heart for him. It is not a desperate, anxious, needy love that so often typifies unhealthy romantic attachments. It is a love that desires all God’s best for him, all God’s favour, all God’s blessing, all God’s peace. It is God’s love, so it is eternal, and it will never change.
On our last night together, we went to church. I stood next to him in church during the singing and surrendered him – My Sweetheart, My Love-Gift, My First Love – to God. I didn’t know at the time that we would not be together a few hours later. I’m not sure he did either. But that’s how I know that God is looking after My First Love. Because I gave him to God that night.
I don’t know where My First Love is now and I may never know – but I do know that no matter where he goes, no matter what he does, no matter who he is with, no matter where he may turn for comfort or the depths he may go to, God won’t ever give up on him.
And neither will I. I will always want the best for him. I will always be in his corner. He will always have a special place in my heart and prayers. God saw his sincere, honest heart, and I know that God treasures an honest heart, and He will honour that.
I will always have hope for My First Love, that God will touch his heart and give him the life that he wanted so very much. I really hope that he finds it in God.
I will always have hope for My First Love. Always.
There may well be other contestants, other pursuers, other sweethearts. But I will only ever have one First Love. And I am so grateful that it was him.
Future Husband, you are coming after a very hard act to follow. Just saying 🙂