Have You Left Your First Love?

WHEN I was in college, I fell in love. The man and I considered marriage. Eventually, he felt it was best if we did not marry; the reasons he gave were not convincing. Even though I later met someone else and married, I had lingering doubts. Sometimes I wondered whether I had given up too easily on this "first love.During one particularly challenging period, I began to realize that I had relied on the earlier relationship for my self-esteem, and that I had looked to that person (an artist) to nurture my own creativity. As I was praying one day, some words from the twenty-third Psalm, referring to God, came to thought: "He restoreth my soul. I saw that the quality of creativity really came from God--from infinite Soul--and not from any person. This was a turning point in helping me gain a more certain commitment to God and to my marriage. But after several years I again began to have doubts. At different times I challenged the notion that if one did not end up with a certain person, he or she was destined to a life of misery. After all, the relationship that seemed to have such a hold on me had not been particularly happy, although it had included some "magical elements. The relationship gradually faded entirely from thought; even in the most difficult times it was not recalled, because I came to better understand God as the actual source of my happiness. Then one day I was scrubbing the kitchen floor when the words "because you have left your first love came to my thought. I found this passage in the book of Revelation, referring to the church at Ephesus: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. Previously, when I had read that passage I had thought it to be pretty far removed from my experience. Suddenly, though, I saw that I had been caught up in the habit of thinking that my life ought to be a lot easier, more exciting and magical than it seemed. And here was the author of Revelation telling the church at Ephesus that it was on the wrong track. To me these words took on new meaning. I saw them not as a threat but as pointing out to me that we lose the light in our lives if we are distracted from seeing God as the source of our light, love, joy. This was the bigger lesson I had been learning--a lesson that broadens and deepens as we go forward. God is our creator, and man in His image is infinitely more than a dissatisfied or lacking mortal. He's the spiritual likeness, the expression, of good itself. Because this is the truth of our being, if we constantly look to something other than God for satisfaction, we'll inevitably be disappointed. We'll miss the pure joy that only God can give us. Putting God first, as Christ Jesus taught, and feeling anchored in His love, we'll see concrete evidence of His provision. God's love isn't an abstraction but a tangible help. We'll find, then, the security and satisfaction that are so important, even if our lives go in an unexpected direction. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is possible to find both peace and a day-to-day sense of wonder if we stick to the one divine Love, which can't be lost. This truly enriches our lives, our families, and our capacity to express God's unfailing love.

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