When Paul and I first met, the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together. Of course that wasn’t really possible, but we took every opportunity we could find to make it happen. When we couldn’t, I spent all the time we were apart thinking about him.
It’s amazing how consumed we were with each other – it was our first love. It was a time where everything else slid to the background and we became the forefront of everything we did or thought about.
When I was in the kitchen cooking, Paul joined me so we could still be together. I had an arm chair in the dining area that fit him perfectly. We would talk about our day but mostly we would simply share about our lives – our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our victories and even our defeats. All the places in our hearts that hadn’t been shared came out into the open and were celebrated with love.
What was happening was, I was cooking and preparing a meal but my attention or my focus was on Paul. Spending time with him and being interested in his day and really, his whole life. The actual act of cooking was simply one of those things I did without all that much thought, and I wasn’t all that great of a cook back then either. That wasn’t the point. The time in the kitchen was about us spending time together while I multi-tasked and cooked meals but, the main thing going on was the soul or emotion connection; relationship.
We fit together like two clasped hands. I adored the ground he walked on. I was his biggest encourager and his was the same for me.
It was the best of times.
These kitchen conversations continued on after we were married. I began to take a huge interest in learning how to cook. I had no idea how people knew what spice or herb went with what. The only way I could figure it out was to try it. So I started growing and studying herbs. I began devouring cookbooks and trying every recipe that intrigued me.
But that was many years ago.
These days when I’m baking, I’m often somewhere else in my mind. I am physically there in my kitchen but my thoughts are miles away thinking about friends and conversations we’ve had or often, I am thinking about the person who will receive what I am currently baking.
Occasionally, I even have conversations with people who aren’t even in the room. More often than not if no one is physically in the room with me, I’m having conversations with God. We talk about many things. Sometimes it’s me praying and other times it’s not. When I interact with God like this, I am at complete rest; there is no anxiety or worry, I multi-task with ease. With my physical hands I am baking something but in my heart and mind or in my imagination, I am having a conversation with someone I can’t see with my natural eyes – yet my conversation and communication is as if I can.
When I am in this place, I am at rest. I am comfortable knowing that what is transpiring is real and affects my relationship with God. It is just as real as when Paul is in the kitchen conversing with me – I’m enjoying first love with God.
While in this place of rest, everything that tries to remind me how bad some circumstance is or how dire a problem seems – falls to the wayside. I am in a bubble of protection and love. I am instead consumed with the One who has all of my attention and I believe it all comes down to this:
When Pau and I first loved, there was so much rest when we were together, even though in reality it was one of the toughest times of our lives. When we were together we were strengthened so that when we needed to be strong we would be because there was a history or testimony of a love that could not be shaken. There was a safe place to dwell in the midst of storms.
How do you find rest? You return to your first love, of course. That is where the testimony lies. My first love with Paul is like my walk with Jesus – even more so because in Him I find rest. They are both my safe place.
When I’m going about my day to day endeavors and find myself getting frustrated because the car stalled or the recipe isn’t working out like I thought it would and yet those muffins have to get in the mail, I have to stop for a moment and breathe. I have to listen to my heart reminding me that it will work out – I need to return to my first love and let my focus be there, not on what isn’t going right.
When I was thinking about these things the other day, I realized this was a key I needed to engage more often. I’ve heard the phrase, “Return to your first love” many times but mostly swept it aside as one of those “spiritual” things that I didn’t understand. I would shrug it off and move on because I couldn’t figure out what it meant in context of my life or even in the context of things I was going through at a particular time.
“Return to your first love” I know it’s talking about that time when all of my focus was on Him and this new amazing love we shared; those giddy days of adoration and almost being oblivious to anything else – at least for me. But that was all I knew.
What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago was that “first love” was also the seat of my resting place. It’s a safe place to come and let worries and stress fall away. It’s the place where I can labor and not grow weary. It’s the place where I can walk out my calling and not fear the judgments of man. It’s also my lampstand and it’s my great reward.
”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)
When I find myself in situations that aren’t in my control, read most of the time, I need to remember that I have the key to rest and the key to peace. I simply have to enter in and have a seat.
Picture credit: https://unsplash.com/@roy23