The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Heal me and I shall be healed; save ,me and I shall be saved: for thou are my praise.
First loves die hard!! Believe me, I know! I was a seventeen year old single parent with a three year old child busy trying to survive, as well as complete high school. I was invited by a friend from church to a social he was having. That’s when I met George. We talked a lot that evening and it seemed like I knew him all my life. I was thrilled when he asked for my number and called shortly after. George was a sophomore in college and seemed so much older and wiser than my peers.
We dated all summer and it was a summer to remember. We were together all the time when he wasn’t at work. He was the only son of older parents who loved and doted over him. What he wanted, George got. His parents bought him a brand new sports car. Eric, my three year old, used a safety pin to carve his initials on the driver’s door. George was upset, but understanding, which endeared him even more to me. My uncle, who would visit often, nicknamed him “Sweet George,” because he had a charming manner about him.
The summer ended all too quickly and it was time to return to school to complete my senior year and for George to begin his sophomore year at college. This naturally meant that I could not spend as much time with him. When thanksgiving arrived, we had some time together and had dinner with his family. Once I returned home and got Eric settled, I called my best friend to tell her about my holiday with George and his family. I was on the phone with her when there was a knock at the back door of our home. Since everyone else was asleep, I carefully checked to see who it was and discovered it was George. I opened the door and to my surprise, there was someone else on the porch with him-Janice. Memory is a funny thing. I seem to recall that she had her hand on his ear, as though she used that ear to drag him to the door!! She let me know in no uncertain terms that she had been dating George for two years and she had just found out about me and told George he had to decide between the two of us. He chose her. Nothing could have prepared me for the emotions that welled up inside of me after they left. I stayed up half the night pouring out my soul to my best friend. .
Shortly thereafter, George called several times but I didn’t know how to respond to him. The school year flew by, with many great senior activities. One highlight of the school year was when our school basketball team won the city championship. I got accepted into several colleges and the future seemed bright. Yet beneath all of this, I was on an emotional roller coaster ride-going from anger to longing to be with George.
Leaving home for the first time, I went off to college after graduating from high school. There was so much to learn and so many opportunities to grow. I dated off and on during college, but no one could hold a candle to George. He would randomly call. One call I remember was when he informed me that he had gotten married. It wasn’t Janice, his high school sweetheart, but someone else. He also called about a year later to inform me that the marriage was over. During my senior year of college, I finally decided to close the door of my heart to George and felt I was finally over him! Whew!!
After college I returned home and began a very fulfilling job, doing a lot of self -discovery and enjoying life as it happened. I would occasionally hear from George, who kept me informed about his parents and his second marriage. When his mother died, I stopped by the family home to offer my condolences. Although he was married, George let me know that we could still get together and do a little something on the side. I laughed at him and reminded him that some things never change. I left that interaction feeling so thankful that I was not married to this ‘womanizing’ man!!!
I lost track of George as the years passed. As I said, memory is a funny thing. My memory of George morphed into remembering only the good things about him, particularly that first summer when everything was so great. I often wondered what had become of “Sweet George," sometimes trying to locate him through searches on the internet.
In the meantime, God blessed me with a wonderful husband, who relentlessly pursued me to be in relationship with me. I told him about George and the role he played in shaping my view of men. He graciously listened and affirmed that it was George’s loss and his gain.
One afternoon on an early spring day, my son called me and asked me to take a guess at who he saw. After exhausting my three guesses, he enthusiastically replied, “George!” He had been flipping through a magazine and saw a model that looked familiar. After sorting through his memory, he tied the name to the face: George. After reminiscing about sweet George, I wrote down the name of the magazine and contacted the editor several days later. Because there are no secrets between my husband and me, this was all done with his blessing. The editor got me in touch with George and thus began a series of emails between the two of us. I made a point of forwarding all emails to hubby to keep him informed. Much of the content was spent getting caught up and asking about family, and sharing pictures. I made sure that I sent him a picture of my hubby, holding me close. He lived in North Carolina with his wife, not far from where Eric was soon to be married. With everyone’s blessing, I invited him and his wife to the wedding.
I found myself getting excited about seeing George, writing it off to getting reacquainted with an old dear friend. I made sure I talked to my hubby about how I was feeling. I learned a long time ago that he was my safety and secrets afford the enemy an opportunity to set either one of us up for temptation. We had long ago agreed that we would talk to each other, no matter how painful the truth may be to hear. I was very surprised at how disappointed I felt, when a week before the wedding, George emailed me expressing regrets that he would be unable to attend the wedding. I was totally unprepared for what came after the disappointment - anger. There was no time to deal with this because of the excitement about Eric’s upcoming wedding.
The wedding was beautiful and everything went without a hiccup. I was hoping against hope that George would come to the reception, but he did not. Once life returned to normal, I had time to think and feel my anger and disappointment. In processing these feelings with a psychologist friend and with my husband, I realized something painfully important. God showed me a glimpse of my heart that was not pretty. My friend did not know of my history with George and as I took the time to get her filled in, she expressed shock. She was shocked to hear that I was not in touch with my pain about being rejected by him. She painstakingly rehearsed our history together and pointed out various hurtful parts. I was jolted into a big wave of pain when she pointed out that George chose his girlfriend of two years over me. In my idealized recollection of the relationship, I neglected to get in touch with my pain of rejection. It seemed that God had orchestrated all of this so that I could. I felt seventeen again, only this time instead of overwhelming grief, I was very angry. After ending my conversation with her, I talked with my husband about my newfound insight and anger. He suggested that I spent time with my feelings, praying and writing about this experience.
I reluctantly agreed to do so, warning him that I wouldn’t be cooking nor doing other household chores, which was okay with him. As I sat and felt and wrote about my feelings, some profound insights emerged. I wanted George to attend the wedding so that he could see what he missed out on by not choosing me. I wanted to reject him as he had rejected me so many years before. I was stuck at seventeen! The Lord wanted to heal me so that I could move on from this place of resentment. I prayed, asking the Lord to give me the grace to forgive George for rejecting me for an encounter that seemed like it happened only yesterday. Yet there was more.
It took several more days of searching and wrestling to see something else very important. Since I had been stuck at seventeen, there was a part of my heart that did not belong to my husband. The Lord wanted to heal me so that he could have access to more of my heart. When I shared with my husband what was going on with me, he made a profound statement - one that set me free. He said, “You know George may have rejected you, but I chose you. I relentlessly pursued you because I knew that I wanted you. I have never regretted my choice. I love you and would choose you again and again!”
I want to share several important lessons I have learned from this experience. The first is the value of true intimacy with my spouse. There is a false intimacy that is palmed off as the genuine article. True intimacy is often painful, but worth the hard work of staying in relationship. I knew that there was safety in being able to talk with my husband so intimately. There are marital relationships that would greatly benefit from the unveiling of the heart to each other. You may have to start small in moving toward true intimacy, but may I encourage you to take that first step.
The second lesson I learned is the necessity of on-going self exploration. I frequently say, “We don’t like standing in the truth! It is the most difficult work we can ever do!” Feelings may surface, but not for the reasons one may think. Through this experience, I can understand how marriages are ruined after high school or college reunions. I could have very easily gotten swept away into a destructive encounter with a “blast from the past.” God protected me while He was working on my heart to help me understand its brokenness. God was seeking to bring about the healing of a painful event that I had successfully put a band aid on and moved on as though I was healed, when I was not. I praise His name for His protection.
Another valuable lesson I learned is the truth about seed planting and harvesting, from a spiritual perspective. The seed of rejection planted by George years ago produced a harvest. I wanted to hurt George, as he hurt me. However, to do so, meant that I would hurt David, and perhaps even George’s wife!
The last lesson is the wonderful reminder of the truth that time does not heal; only God does!! Over the span of two months God was able to transport me back thirty years and truly restore the years the locusts had eaten (Joel 2:23). More importantly, God has closed a door that the enemy could have used to ensnare and entrap me. I know that my desire is to serve the Lord with all of my heart and soul and mind. As my desire lines up with His, He completes the work. I have seen a glimpse of His heart that has inspired me to love Him even more.
Please use this glimpse of my heart to receive the truth that God knows your heart’s needs, and that He loves you more than you could ever know.