Yesterday, a sweet-faced and gentle-spirited student of mine carefully carried a beautiful orchid and little box of chocolates into school and left them on my desk for me to find. His family takes every opportunity heralded by Hallmark to bless me with acknowledgement and appreciation. I am so grateful for them. The children were lining up to go to the library when I called out and asked who placed these gifts on my desk, and who were they for? Little John quietly acknowledged his gift, and smiled sweetly as I exclaimed their beauty. “I feel so special!” I called out. Another student, standing right in front of me, one of my thoroughly all-boy “Tiggers”, said quietly, “You are special.” You know my heart soared in that moment. That’s all it took–those three simple words (and the shy grin)—to lift me beyond the fatigue, above the countlessly ignored “Voices off Everyone” commands, over the neverending list of ‘to-dos”, and through the doubting of why I drag myself into that building on days when my nose won’t stop running and my head is full of fog.
You ARE special.
THAT is my best valentine–delivered two days early, and right on time.
I don’t need chocolate to be validated. (Remind me I said that when I go begging down the corridor for someone to open their secret stash, or find myself rummaging through cabinets to find remnants and ending up in the chocolate morsels intended for cookies…)
My heart doesn’t need flowers, or dinner at a restaurant, or a ring to be strengthened by love. In fact, it doesn’t need anything in particular on February 14th.
What my heart does need, is that echo of Truth called out on every day of the year, reminding me of how special I am. Doesn’t every heart need this?
I’m not one for succumbing to a culturally-pressed obligation to celebrate. By nature, I am a Hallmark rebel. It seems to me, that what’s all wrong with this ‘holiday’ is that once again, our culture presses an external conception of what it is to be loved and valued into our needy human hearts. With it comes a set of expectations and values that we swallow. The external interpretations of love get it all wrong. They lead us to discontent and deflation when these expectations are not met.
…Husband and wife love is expressed through costly purchases and contrived occasions. If your spouse does not buy an overpriced piece of decorated cardboard, accompanied by cellophaned decadence or floral arrangement, he or she does not love you.” Really? What about going to work every day, even when it’s hard, to provide for your life together? Or getting you ibuprofen for your aches, or fixing that gadget that won’t work, or getting gas for your car, or rubbing your neck, or cooking you a favorite treat, or saying yes to an activity they’d rather not go to, because you enjoy it? How about when they stay, every day, even when it’s hard?
…Love is for the beautifully fit, flawlessly faced, working-off-a-Hollywood script type of people. The truth is, those are just two-dimensional characters, written to perpetuate a profit. Real humans love raw and rarely say things as poetically as authors who sacrifice endless hours to turn a phrase. They stumble over words and look foolish, gain and lose weight, lose hair and limbs. In all of it, the truth is, they are the special ones. They are real, and noticed, and loved by God.
… “You must be romantically attached to someone in order to be celebrated and worthy of love.” And another sour falsehood: “Romantic love is the only love worth celebrating.” This turns Valentine’s Day into (as my college-aged daughter once said) Singleness Awareness Day, and is quite frankly, a lie that Satan would have many believe. You alone, yes, alone, are loved and worthy of that love by the grace and creation of your Maker. He says it. I would not argue with God.
The truth is, however we are– single or married, broken or healed, successful or struggling, widowed, young, old…
We are so loved, we have been found worth dying for.
We are so loved, we are worth saving and spending eternity with.
We are so loved, we have been crafted by God.
When these Truths become covered by culture, and obscured by Hollywood, it’s up to us to stand for what is real and right. Someone we know may need our help erasing the damage of misplaced expectations, or may need reminding they are loved.
So today, the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day, and on every other day of the year, BE that herald of truth! Remind each other of the uncontrived and pure love of God. Look for ways to let your children, your friends, the teens in your youth group, the person you hardly know (yes, the one that sits alone all the time!), your preacher, your coworkers, your family KNOW that they too, are welcome to the well of deep love in Christ.
Faith in Action…
One of my favorite memories is the tucked-into-the-lunchbag love from my mother each
Valentine’s Day: a tiny (was it Russell Stover?) box of chocolates and a note with her little smiley face.
What are ways YOU can live a valentine of God’s love today? (Oh, please do pop in and let’s share ideas!)
God’s TRUTHS to ponder…
For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
This is how we know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for LOVE COMES FROM GOD. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is LOVE. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but HE LOVED US and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:16 (NIV)
…in all these things we are more than conquerors through HIM WHO LOVED US. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)