As a tiny little child, my first love came into my life. I had no way of knowing that I would fall as hard as I would, and the relationship began way before I even knew who this person was. He loved me before I even knew his name, and he loved me deeper than I can even imagine, way before I loved him back.
His name is Jesus.
The earliest that I can remember is back at Vacation Bible School, singing fun worship songs and making crafts and playing games. I was always told that “Jesus loves you, Lucia!” but I didn’t get it. I mean, I was only 3 or 4 at the time. I just knew that he was there, and I didn’t love him back really. But he was there, he loved me, and he was continuing to court me, even as a young child. After preschool, I went from Little Promises to East Linn Christian Academy, where I started learning more about whoever this Jesus guy was. We memorized our A-B-C’s, our 1-2-3’s, and the “For-God-so-loved-the-world-that-he-gave-his-only-son-that-whoever-believes-in-him-shall-not-perish-but-have-eternal-life-John-three-sixteen”s. I still didn’t get it, but I had a basic understanding of who Jesus was: a guy who a long long time ago had a beard and long hair and did all this good stuff so that I wouldn’t have to burn in hell one day. Cool.
About second grade came around and the whole “burn in hell” part of the equation started to scare me a little bit… The concept of hell to an adult is terrifying, you can imagine what it felt like as a kid with the tiniest bit of knowledge I had. I lied to Suzy Q. about how long I could hold my breath underwater, and lying is a sin, and I was going to die one day and HECK NO I didn’t want to go to hell! So, I decided to pray that God would forgive me of my sins and “enter into my heart” – whatever that means. So I prayed the prayer and I got out of hell.
But that wasn’t enough for Jesus. He wanted more than just my free pass into heaven, he wanted me. He didn’t die just so that I got that free pass, he died so that I can love him back and have a relationship with him and be with him for all eternity. He created me in my mother’s womb, saw me take my first steps, and watched me grow. He loved me, and wanted me to love him back.
In fifth grade, we were reading a book about the death of Jesus Christ. I had seen clips of “The Passion of the Christ”, and I was NOT into all that gory crucifixion stuff. No thanks, I don’t like watching people have their beard torn out and thorns driven into their skull and nails in their wrists while they scream in agony and then suffocate to death. Not my cup of tea. So I didn’t love the gory details of this book, but as we read it, I understood! God allowed me to see why he did what he did, and although it didn’t make sense because I was just little-pesky-human-me, I felt his love and I understood that he really, truly loved me. From that day on, I began pursuing him, too. In sixth grade, I was worshipping before a service day at school. During that time of worship, we sang “How He Loves” by David Crowder. In the middle of the song, I understood the meaning of them, and I felt -for the first time ever- Jesus’ presence. It’s hard to explain what it feels like, it’s kind of like the feeling that someone is watching you but not in a creepy way, and at the same time you are in the biggest, most welcoming hug you have ever had. It was so overwhelming and so beautiful. I started shaking, and held myself back from crying. To this day I still get a little choked up.
In that moment, I fell in love. I fell in love with Jesus Christ, who forever will be my first and my true love. He makes me feel safe and sound, beautiful and worthy, strong, and at peace. I found myself in Jesus. I didn’t know that there was a hole in my heart, but there was, and Jesus filled that space until I was overflowing with Him. My heart now forever belongs to him.
If I am honest, I am a terrible partner in this relationship. I do all the things he doesn’t want me to do, I don’t talk to him enough, I don’t read his Word enough, and I don’t always pursue him. But in his goodness, he hasn’t stopped pursuing me. He pulls me back in every time I run away, and when I feel so ashamed, he tells me he loves me still. I am so unworthy of the love he gives me, and I always will be. But Jesus doesn’t care- he loves me the same.
The relationship between me and my family/boyfriend/friends is very full of love. I am blessed beyond measure to have them in my life. But the love I feel in my relationship with Christ surpasses all of these loves in tenfold. It is the most fulfilling, deep love, a love that never in my wildest dreams I would imagine I could have.
As for my relationship with Jesus right now, I continue to fall more and more each day for him. I can see him in my daily relationships. He is telling me it is time to go, and I am looking for a mission’s trip so that I can show others how much he loves them, too. He is revealing to me the desires of my heart and is giving me passions I didn’t know I had. As I am growing and beginning to figure out my own life, in the moments of stress and fear, I can hear him whispering to me: “I love you, Lucia, and the plans I have for you will go beyond your wildest dreams. Just take my hand and trust me.”