The Love You Had at First

If we think back and remember what made our souls come alive at around the age of 7 or 8, there’s a good chance that, whatever it was, we were made to do it.

I’ve come across this idea recently in one of my counseling courses. When a client is having trouble making a career choice, for example, one strategy is to take them back to what they loved at a young age. Most can describe these first loves without issue: making up skits, drawing pictures, starting lemonade stands, writing stories, comforting friends, learning about animals, or playing school.

Sadly, there are often qualifiers attached to these first loves.

“My parents/friends/teachers didn’t think it was important.”

“I just wasn’t very good.”

“There’s no way I could make a career out of that.”

But there were no audiences to please, grading scales to meet, or bills to pay for our 8-year-old selves. We just did what came naturally.

I love this idea. It grounds me in my natural gifts. It’s why I keep coming back to writing even when it seems fruitless—all because my second grade teacher told me I had “the voice of an author.”

Recently, I’ve also been considering how it relates to our relationship with the Lord.

How old were you when you first understood and believed the good news of the gospel?

You might not have been 7 or 8 years old, but there was a time where you first fell in love with King Jesus and His story of redemption.

Chances are, if you’re like me, you were so excited to spend time with Him.

What did that time look like for you?

For me, I was in junior high and would spend time reading the Bible and then journaling prayers before bed. I wasn’t concerned about being tidy or concise or theologically correct. I opened to random pages in my Bible to read and I just shared my thoughts and worries with Him in my journals. I don’t have them anymore, but I know there were several pages devoted to the boys I had crushes on and the spats I got into with my friends.

I’m sure I would laugh if I read my prayers now, but at the time I was just pouring out my heart to my Father.

I’ve since learned to read a passage in context and pray in a way that invites God’s will to be done. These practices are important in that they allow me to know God’s character more accurately and live with His Kingdom in mind.

If I’m honest, though, trying to read and pray the “right” way has sometimes clouded the natural and conversational time I previously spent with God.

“I shouldn’t ask Him about that.”

“I’ve heard that truth a million times. It should come naturally now.”

“He already knows my thoughts. There’s no reason to talk about those worries”

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.

Revelation 2:4-5 (ESV)

“Abandoned the love you had at first.” We may have more understanding and have grown in holiness, but this verse implies that we physically left the love we had at the beginning. “Abandoned” was a choice we made without even realizing it.

We stopped approaching God with the desire for true relationship.

Thankfully, we have the opportunity to turn back.

And how do we return to the love we had before? According to this verse, by doing the works we did at the beginning.

In the same way we consider what our elementary school selves loved to do, we can go back to the beginning of our relationship with God.

We can pray without hindrance. We can expose our weaknesses without worry. We can be imperfect in His presence even though we aren’t “new at this” anymore.

We can read with the freedom to enjoy and the humility to ask questions. We can ask the Spirit for fresh eyes. We weren’t experts then and we aren’t now—we will always have something to learn.

We can tell others about the love we’ve found without trying to get it all “right.” We are always relying on His power no matter how well we think we can convey the message.

Whatever excited us in the beginning will reignite us today.

God is longing for us to enjoy Him anew.

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