“Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4)
You never forget your first love. That is certainly true for me. I never really recovered from my first love. Not really.
Paul was my high school sweetheart. He was captain and quarterback on the senior boys football team, and captain of the senior boys hockey team. He looked like Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves, a movie that came out while we dated. Girls at school were lining up to date the quarterback, and I never knew why he chose me.
The time that I was with him was magical. I was on cloud nine. I came alive. My senses were heightened. Colours were more vibrant, music more meaningful, and smells more pungent. Every season I was his girl was livelier and more pulsating to my senses.
On our lunch hour, we walked from our Catholic secondary school toward London’s downtown Victoria Park hand-in-hand, crunching through a carpet of fall leaves — gold, red, russet — smelling the rain, the wet leaves, and the burning wood from the fireplaces of the surrounding homes. Fall remains my favourite season likely for those walks I had with Paul when I was sixteen and he was seventeen. My heart was on fire for my first love during the sweet time of youth and beauty that we shared.
Our break-up was deeply painful. Before Paul, no one had ever spoken the words "I love you" to me. When Paul and I broke up, all love stopped for me. I changed high schools to try to mend my broken heart in isolation and focus on my studies. I discovered that Rod Stewart was right. The first cut really is the deepest. It hurt like hell to let Paul and that first, passionate love go.
I often wondered if he quickly forgot about me. He seemed to. But when we came together years later he introduced me to others as "his first love." I knew then that I held a special place in his heart, and always would. We’d cherish each other as one another’s first love.
When an individual comes to Christianity later in life, they come full of a first fervor like that I felt for my Paul. The convert is zealous. She yearns to purify her heart and mind and overflows with love for God and her fellow man.
Prayer brings all things spiritual to life. With time, new converts come to see that coming to Christ does not mean that life will be without obstacles or pain. Confronted with the difficulties of trying to live faithfully in a modern world, one’s ardor naturally cools much like a first love cools, or any love cools.
One will invariably feel confused, let down or abandoned by God. If we are honest with ourselves, we discover that the hardness of our own hears and our reluctance to trust everything to the Lord is where the problem lies.
The sacrament of reconciliation helps us to come back in relationship with God. To return to the mantle of God’s love reminds us of the love God has for us. God wants to stir up our hearts to a renewed awareness of His love for us.
Just as my first love, when we came together again, told me that he had truly loved me, so too does reunification with God stoke those fires of our love for God and His love for us.
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