My first love of the kind that you expect to hear from me was my boyfriend in my senior year of High School. I gave him my heart, and he loved me also. I suppose it could have been a romantic sweetheart tale, but we ended up going our separate ways.
The first love I want to tell you about, however, is of a different kind. I graduated from High School in 1965, in California. This was the Timothy Leary era, before LSD was even illegal, and I got caught up in the San Francisco experimental atmosphere; free drugs, free love, free happiness. After 4 years of various drugs and communal happenings I hit the bottom of the barrel, and was wondering where to turn to make a difference in my life, when some “cool” Christians visited our commune in the woods of Oregon. I was captivated. Not right away, but as we kept visiting them and hearing their story and what they had to say about God, I was won over. This indeed was a first love of a magnitude I had not experienced before.
When I accepted Jesus into my life, the change was drastic. I was happy again. I felt free from my worries and burdens and confusion. Love infused me and I was happy with everything and everyone. There could be no wrong in the world.
My current boyfriend and I got married as it was the moral thing to do if we wanted to stay together. He desperately loved me, and I wasn’t enough in the present to stand on the fact that I was hesitant. It was expected, and so I agreed. That was the first crack in the new found love I was in. I didn’t realize it at first, but it was a seed of doubt that would blossom later.
My new husband wanted to go back to the East coast, where he was from, to reconcile with his parents, so off we went, hitchhiking across the country. This was a honeymoon of love, not between my husband and me, but between me and my new-found God. All of our rides were Christian, and we had a blast talking with each one of them. Once on Cape Cod, we were directed to a newly formed Christian community and soon came under the sway of the charismatic teachings of the 2 women who led it. Because I was so much in love, I was starry eyed and not thinking straight. I was also untrained in this new religion, having been raised as an atheist. I was ripe for training and exploitation, and that is what happened.
My first love enthusiasm for the ideals of the religious life motivated me to endure much suffering, which was the emphasis of their teaching. In my marriage also, as we grew more apart, I suppressed my concerns and endured. We were taught that any problems we had were our own fault, due to our sinful natures. After many long years, I had to separate to save my own life, which was truly in danger of annihilation. My first love had been thoroughly crushed.
If I had stayed with my high school sweetheart, would it have been better? I’m not sure. I found out years ago that he had died of liver failure. He was a heavy drinker. Would I have ended up in an abusive, drunken relationship? It’s very likely.
First loves are heady, all-encompassing experiences. They need wisdom which the young usually don’t have. I have learned a ton from the path my first love put me on, but I also regret the years wasted in an abusive and highly controlling community that deceived me. I am soaking in my freedom now, and exercising my ability to learn and discern, but I regret the many years of my life in which I fought against myself to conform to a way of life that I now have found out is aberrant. My beautiful first love of God was taken advantage of by power hungry people who thought they had a pipeline to God. Since all things work together for good, I am now rebuilding my first love into a mature and intelligent love. The pain of the years given to my first love has taught me compassion, endurance, and a healthy dose of skepticism, which is helping me to find my way to a mature first-love.