2nd Greatest Golden

One of the first guidelines I was told as a child was to “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”. Of course, I tended to forget all about it when my sister and I were playing dolls and she took years dress I’d been eyeing. And I’m pretty positive I completely erased the idea as I gnashed (yes, gnashed) my teeth at sister, my hands gripping her arm in angry, revving up to let loose and clamp down on that arm in a rage-filled bite. Granted, I was probably only 2 and my sister would have been 3 or 4, but I sure did not want to think about sisterly love at that moment.

As I grew older, I heard the same message from the church – “love your neighbor as yourself”. Being a (relatively) well-mannered youth, I thought I was taking this to heart. Giving much of myself and my heart to others in my life. love them,  Love Them, LOVE THEM! It was the cause of great friendships and endless heartaches.

  

It’s true. Someone did once say that to me. In college, a close friend of mine told me this one day. “Elisa, did you realize your life is a series of near misses?” He laughed, I laughed. At the time, it felt so true. I felt it so much that I wore it like a name tag. Isn’t it clever? Isn’t it funny? Was what I’d tell everyone. I started to engrave it upon my heart. You are a series of near misses. That’s your life story. 

A few years later, I was truly feeling the hurt of all things around me. Disapproved by family, jilted in love, shady choices by people I had trusted in the church, friendships dwindling … I was in a pit of self-wallowing and despair.  I felt like every effort I made in relationships would fizzle out quicker than a cheap box of matches. If I was trying so desperately to make connections with others, why were they pushing me away? Why would they not show me grace and love?? I have been defined: forever a miss.

I wish I could remember the point everything started to change. Someone had spoke on what it meant about how to truly “love your neighbor as yourself “That that act, it requires you to love yourself first. If I was loving on my neighbors with the love that I lacked for myself, then they were not getting the best I could offer. It wasn’t about being kind and hoping/expecting the same in exchange– it was about knowing that I am loved, bring filled with love, and  sharing love with others.

For years I was foolish enough to believe them. Not anymore. Not I. My near misses didn’t define me, I get to define me. I decide what I can fill my heart with. I get to decide what I share with others and how I treat them. I choose to love myself– not that that’s incredibly easy or something I always want, but I still choose it. Because I want to share the best love I can with others. The best me.

Right now, some of that means some big personal changes in my life, challenges that I’m working towards. I hope you are choosing some too! How can I encourage you push forward? How can I help you to see beyond the near misses and redefine yourself as you?

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First Love

Do you still have your first love? What an incredibly deeper question that I have thought or realized. I’m a person full of questions. And I willingly, openly ask a lot of them. But you’d be surprised how many questions I filtered out before digging in.

When I hear that question my heart leaps into nostalgia. What did I love first? What was my favorite childhood toy? Who made my heart flutter for the first time?

I decided to listen to a podcast this afternoon and this was the focus of it.

Do you still have your first love? Have you lost your first love?

Yes. And no. Because I’m going to say this: God loved first and always.

God spoke the world into existence. He breathed life into our bodies. He allowed for us to make choices regarding our love for Him. He has watched us, time and time again, chose anything else but Him. He gave us His Son as a sacrifice because He loved us so deeply. He continues to blanket us with grace and compassion in great things and rough moments and trying times. And He will continue to do so– unstoppable.

If you want to try and understand love even more, check out 1 John 4 in a Bible. Over and over and over, we are told that we are loved.

Greater is He who is in you then he who is in the world … Let us love one another for God is love… This is the love the Father has lavished on us… This is love: not that we love God, but that He loved us … By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us … Love is perfected with us … We love, because a He first loved us …

God is our first love: not because we loved Him, but because He first loved us. 

And no, we cannot loose Him and His love, but we can certainly deny it and distance ourselves from Him. 

Yes. yes, I still have my first love. Because He still has me. (And anything that I bring to the table is in response to His love for me. If I ever think that it’s my doing first and then I’ll be willing to accept Him, I need to realize that method is wrong. He already established the first love and I accepted it.)

What things do you do to honor your first love?