His name was Stephen and he was 11 years old, I was 10. He was in the final year of junior school; I was the year below him. He was gorgeous – strawberry blond hair and sparking blue eyes. When he looked at me, I could feel the heat in my checks as I blushed. When he spoke to me I turned into a giggling wreck. Our first kiss was behind the coal bunker at school, a quick peck on the cheek, but I just drifted around on cloud nine for the rest of the week. After that he called me darling. I felt so special, he was my boyfriend, Sometimes he would come and sit with me in the playground at break time, but not too often, as I was a girl after all!
We didn’t do dates, we were far too young, but I knew he was my boyfriend so that was great. Some days we didn’t acknowledge each other at all, but I told myself this is how grown ups were so that was cool, even though inside I was a bit sad when that happened.
One day I got to school and the school gossip was that Stephen was emigrating to Australia. I wasn’t sure what they meant by emigrating, but I did know Australia was a long way away. Why hadn’t he told me himself? Maybe it wasn’t true, just a bad joke from some jealous friends. Yet in time I discovered it was true, and his family were going within a month of this announcement. He never told me himself; in fact he never really spoke to me again until the last day at school when he kissed so many girls that by the time he got around to me I didn’t feel special any more.
The day he flew away I sat on the school field watching the planes going over and wondering if he was on one of them. I shed a few tears there for my first love, thinking I could never love again. Wrestling with the haunting question, what if there was only one person for me and this was my chance? What would now become of this broken-hearted ten year old? Would I ever recover? Of course, I did, although the boyfriends moving to remote parts of the world scenario did repeat itself twice after this, and each time it hurt.
I remember one time in my life whilst nursing the latest heart-break, I read Joni Eareckson Tada’s Biography “Joni”. In her book Joni writes about pain and she wrote something that Ive never forgot. She said it doesn’t matter what causes human pain, whether it is a teenager with a broken heart or the mental pain of quadriplegia (which is her story), God cares about out suffering and is there for us. God doesn’t have a sliding scale for human pain, one kind being more important to him than another; he just wants to minister his peace when we hurt. This has helped me to acknowledge that the pain of a broken hearted teenager is something that God really cares about, and wants to minister to.
There really is a lot of pain yet a lot more healing, and all the pain I face today may not be the same as that 10 year old girl sat in the field staring longingly at the airplanes, yet there are still the similar feelings of loss and sadness. The main difference for me today is that I know God shares my pain and sit with me looking longingly into the middle distance, sharing the mess and bringing his peace.
In moments when I am aware of this I know again that the only love that lasts forever is God’s love, for as fantastic and exciting as human love can be it is always a pale shadow of God’s amazing love for me.
Thank You Father, for the joy of human love, which is a gift from you. Thank you for the way you show your love to us by allowing us to share life together.
Jesus – during this Lenten season – remind me again that all human love is to reflect your great love to us.
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!