I knew him, or more like knew of him for two years because we went to school together, before we actually started hanging out and I’d begun to crush hard. He had a plain name and an everyday, boy next door face. He looked younger than he was and shorter than most.
He played two sports, so I cheered for him. Officially for school, then silently, simply for myself. He made me laugh, swoon, sigh, and stare in awe.
He also made everything better. His best friend at the time happened to be my first elementary school crush. Gorgeous and dark and tall. He was most every girl’s dream guy and he’d finally begun to notice me after all those years.
Problem was, I’d begun to notice his friend. So, while at our season’s first Junior Cotillion dance with Mister Tall, Dark, and Handsome, I took the opportunity to tell him so. It went something like this…
TDH (Tall Dark Handsome): *saunters up to me* “Hey. Dance with me.”
Me: *excited and goofy* “K”
TDH: *suave and full of himself; smiling and teasing and acting every bit of the ninth grade girl’s dream guy he was* “I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Me: *figuring I knew what it was about and wondering how I was gonna tell him I was into his best friend* “Yeah?”
TDH: “I was thinking we should go out.” (Or, something close to that effect. Very blunt and matter of fact, yet totally charming.)
Me: “Really? Finally! I’ve waited a long time for this. Problem is, now I really like [oh, let’s call him Mister Boy Next Door, or BND, to keep things safe and tidy]”
TDH: *shocked, yet genuinely excited* “BND?!? Really??”
Me: *relieved, though a bit disappointed he took it so well* “Yep. BND! I think he’s soooo cute and funny.”
TDH: *immediately dragging me over towards BND* “I’m gonna hook y’all up!”
Me: *still a bit disappointed TDH let me go with so little fight, yet nervous enough to vomit* “No! Are you sure??? Ohhhkaaayy…”
Firsts Can Break Your Heart
And that’s how it started. And for nine months, I never looked away from him after that first dance forced on us by TDH. Even for the few years after he broke my heart, I struggled to move on or look away in every class room and at every party or hangout. No matter how hard I tried. Because we remained friends, while I secretly loved him desperately.
Until one day I didn’t. I just woke up one morning and realized I no longer loved him. I was finally free. And boy, did that feel good. Because first loves have a way of stealing your heart and head. Wrapping themselves all up inside you until you can’t see any way around them.
Firsts, in every way, set the tone though, don’t they? Determine a standard, in a way. Set in motion a sort of expectation, whether good, bad, right or wrong. Firsts just hold you in a way like no other.
Think of your firsts. Be they relationships, jobs, trips, kiddos, marriages, even. Any and all firsts we ever experience. They can be topped, sure. But they can never be discounted. They stay with you.
You always remember them. Remember when they happened and how you felt. If not consciously, definitely subconsciously and emotionally. Even physically. Or bodies recall their own reactions to firsts, reacting similarly in future events and experiences.
My first best friendship ended in heartbreak, as well. I felt I’d lost an entire second family, really. It was actually around the time of my first love, though that break-up came a few months later. Devastating doesn’t come close to describing these events and this time frame. My whole world kinda turned upside-down after that.
Seconds and Beyond
Yet, for all that firsts offer and become, they also set the stage for seconds. And beyond, if need be. They are the beginning, yes. And for all their beauty and goodness, lessons and pain, they are to be treasured and recalled. But it’s also good to remember that firsts aren’t usually the end. They more often exist to lead elsewhere.
That first death of a friendship led to the first of a few lifelong friendships I treasure. It also eventually led to a reconciliation of sorts of the one that I believed had ended forever.
Same goes for that first love. Who, for the record, told me in college he made a mistake in letting me go, although I’m not all too sure he meant it. But it was great to hear, even if it’s neither here nor there and not part of any point I’m making. Ha! But, obviously, my love life wasn’t over. After a few great guys and way too many not-so-much ones(!), I clearly and thankfully found the love of my life.
Which is closer to the point of all this. Firsts are the beginning. The starter for what comes next. The first course of a meal. The first chapter of a book. The first mile of many more. The first taste, attempt, or even temptation, which we’d do well to keep in mind! Your first kiss, glance, conversation, or feeling fully expressed. First steps and first leaps. First mistakes and first falls.
Each a beginning of something yet ended.
Love Comes First
Each an opportunity to continue living. Because a beginning always precludes a whole other something worth waiting on. Even if it’s only for the lesson and ending or more growth and other beginnings.
And you know what else? Firsts are never really done without love. Mister TDH obviously loved his friend more than himself in that moment at the dance. He wanted his friend to hear that someone was expressing interest. He wanted to play a role in something good. Love really does motivate like no other.
The disciple John even tells us in his epistles that we only love because God first loved us. Jesus, himself, also tells us the greatest command is to love God first, then love others as we love ourselves.
And what do these firsts have in common? They both led elsewhere. They are each only the beginning of love and true living. The beginning of a story worth living out and an ending only dreamt about. No matter how it all plays out. Because all things will be working together for good and held together by the actual Creator of all first, lasts, and everything in between.
And who of us can deny we all want to be held by love?! Motivated by love! And when we love God back and keep that love in first place, while rightly ordering all loves thereafter, He promises to keep us held altogether, from first to last. Beginning to end. With an end, might I add, that includes a forever with Him void of tears, pain, hard lessons, fear and shame.
So, let’s not stop our stories. Let’s not give in to any lies or dreams of goodness that came first. Let’s not let the messy middle be the end, either. Let’s fall hard for The One Who wants to be our first love. And let’s allow Him to be the true and deepest love of our entire life story! Let’s allow Him to set our standard and strike the tone of all our days. Allow Him to wrap His cords of love around us, sing His chords of joy above us, steel His arms of safety about us, until He’s all we see and hear and feel. Then let’s allow His love to define and determine every second, third, and all that comes next.
Come. What. May.