First Love?

“How can someone give up on their little boy?” asked Martin.  It’s a poignant question as we both instinctively glance across at our own little boy playing with his train track on the dining room floor.  We’re a long long way from being perfect parents and God knows we’re still going to hurt him and each other many more times yet as we muddle through towards adult-hood (both his and ours!). 

You can’t give something away if you never had it in the first place.  We were raised and shaped in humanly flawed but loving environments.  We have been educated by people who believed in us, both formally and informally.  We have enjoyed (and endured) rich and varied life experiences.  We have chosen to have our little boy(s) and we want to give him (them) the best that we have to offer, far from perfect though it will certainly be.  I have no idea whether she has ever experienced love, and I do know that as far as “choosing” to have a child is concerned, she is little more than a repository of sperm for someone else’s gratification.  With no support structure, we should maybe be more surprised that she has dedicated herself to her burden for nine years, rather than wondering why she seizes her chance to escape when the door opens in front of her.

And true to form, the axe-wielding system cludges into action.  The social worker lays down the law; “That’s abandonment of a child.  The police will bring her back and then we can enforce a program of visits”.  Yes, that’s bound to work; the shot-gun between the shoulder blades method of mentoring the needy mother towards a mature and loving relationship with her little boy.  You can’t give something away if you never had it in the first place. 

For two pins I’d adopt him myself, but apart from not being on the cards, it is probably better to support the extended family who are looking after him, complicated though those relationships are going to be.  It was his birthday on Tuesday, so we showed up with a cake and a present.  “Oh, yes, we’d forgotten…” Birthdays are a big deal in Argentina.  People have alarms set in their mobile phones to remind them to send a text greeting even the most minor of acquaintances in their agendas.  But you can’t give something away if you never had it in the first place. 

How can someone give up on their little boy?  Because even those who have experienced love will fail every day to live it, so for someone who is still living in Egypt…?  Which is why God brought Israel out of Egypt before he asked them to love him.  And even then they still didn’t manage it.  Paul says to the Corinthians that God comforts us in our troubles in order that we can comfort with the comfort with which we have been comforted.  And we still don’t manage it. 

Thinking around all this, I was reminded of an old Petra number from the eighties, “First love”.  So I went looking for it.  (The video’s not great if you’re lip-reading so I’ve added the lyrics underneath).  Personally I’m not sure about affirming Jesus as my “first love”; if I’m honest there are various contenders for that title in my life, not least the little boy playing trains on the dining room floor, but, I think it is a powerful song; I’m weak, I’m flawed, but I know that you loved me first, and because of that, I keep coming back. 

Sometimes I feel I’m pulled in so
many wrong directions
Sometimes I feel the world
seducing my affections
It’s not that I don’t know the way
It’s just a heart that’s prone
to stray
But with my weaknesses admitted
You will keep all that I’ve committed
So I commit my heart to you
My first love.

First love, first love
My soul longs after you.
First love, my first love
I want my heart to stay so true.
Because you first loved me,
Jesus, you will always be
You will always be
my first love.

It’s taken me some time to try to
A love that doesn’t change
A love without an end.
A love that keeps forgiving
A love of sacrifice and giving
I delight myself in you
My first love.

If I ever lack endurance
I remember you assurance
That your only banner over me
is love
If my heart begins to waiver
Woo me back, my loving saviour
Woo me back till I return to
My first love.

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