Many people will find some way and dedicate some time today to celebrating Valentine’s Day. I am married, with children, and so I have a lot to celebrate. And a lot of reasons why I cannot skip out on the celebration.
But I have not forgotten the many Valentine’s days of the past, when there was little to celebrate. And I cannot forget the looks I see behind the smiles I meet that tell me of all the bitter disappointments people carry into and through a day like today.
Pushing Our Way Through
For all our celebrating, we are a people who cover up much. We push past our deep woundedness and the disillusionment that love has delivered, and we do our best to pretend that love is still a wonderful thing. And I think that is a testament to the bravery and resilience of the human spirit. Somehow, we still believe, or at least want to.
Most of us anyway.
And then I think about the ones who don’t. The ones who only pretend for the sake of survival. Ones trapped in the industry of sex slavery, where disillusioned men and women go in search of pleasures and affections to quiet their screaming scars, on a day like today. Since they don’t know what it’s like to freely receive a love like God’s love, they buy and sell a manufactured one, and learn how to be content with it.
I think of the children, rejected by their peers, who at the tender age of 12 and 13 don’t want anything more to do with Valentine’s Day because it has, already, wounded them.
I think of the single mother whose deepest dreams were shattered with adultery or divorce, or both. And of how she has resigned herself to celebrate with her children and deny her heart’s dangerous longing for a love that might actually give, rather than take from her.
I can’t help but think of these things because, even on a day like today, life is hard. We need days like today to soften it up a bit, but what happens when such days carry the sting of death? For many, this is the reality. It used to be mine.
I can’t say today that I have no more disappointments. It isn’t that marriage and family have suddenly erased all of my disillusionment. In fact, as you may also well know, sometimes marriage and family can deepen and complicate those disappointments. And when that is true, whatever are we to do, with a day like today?
Looking for the More We Have Been Given
I think there are two choices: focus on the things we don’t or can’t have, or focus on the thing(s) we do. It’s a truth that stretches all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose to fix their attention on the ONE TREE they COULD NOT eat from, and ignored the ENTIRE GARDEN full of trees that were FREELY GIVEN to them. We do the same thing in our lives, still today, don’t we?
You and I can choose to endure a day like today fighting off disappointments from the past, or maybe even the present. We can choose to look at the all the ways human love has failed or hurt us. Or we can look at and seek to embrace the one, very perfect love we have been given by God. This love heals. This love frees. This love chases away fear of every other imperfect love. This love never fails, the Bible promises us.
I woke up today with the grace to look up, to gaze at the One Who loves me so deeply that I can’t help but hope for greater things, despite the past. And His love so fills me that I can’t help but share it with the ones around me, despite their imperfections, and in spite of my own. This love, in fact, makes we want to love better, and carries the promise of helping me to do just that. Starting with a day like today.
The same grace is available for you. If you don’t need it, I’m sure someone around you does. Jesus longs to lead us to the place where we can sit with Him in celebration, feasting on His love and goodness, and looking forward to only more. We never have to fear that His love will run out or disappoint us. In fact, He promises to wave it over us like a banner, declaring that we are the object of His affection, making it known that we are chosen and beloved in His eyes, forever.
May you trade the regrets and disappointments you might be considering today for the fullness of His perfect love. And as you experience it, may you discover, as I have and as I still am, that it enriches and beautifies and makes room for the love we share with others. And then, would you join me in praying that others will be able to know this same kind of love? Oh how the world needs it, on a day like today.