Valentine's Day! Every time I think of it, even though I’m now all too grown up, I am suddenly taken back to my third grade elementary classroom. Every year, I looked forward to Valentine's Day so much. In the morning, my teacher would give each of us a simple brown paper sack
accompanied by a collection of beautiful supplies (colorful stickers, white lace paper doilies, pens, crayons or whatever else sparkled or shone pink) that we could use to decorate our bag. After lunch, we would take our beautiful bags and put them on top of our desk and we would walk around the classroom giving out our carefully prepared Valentine’s cards that we had made by putting them in each others’ bags. I have to admit that while I loved giving them out, the real highlight for me was returning to my desk to peer inside my bag in eager anticipation of receiving cards, candy, or little gifts from my classmates. I loved seeing my name written on the envelopes. Knowing that someone had thought of me and taken the time to give me a token of their attention overwhelmed my little 8 year old heart.
Over the years, being a wife, mother and serving in ministry, I have become adept in the practices of showing love. I am familiar with the art and importance of card-writing, giving small gifts of appreciation, and taking time to think of others. Generosity is one of my spiritual gifts and I find that giving comes easy.
However, this month, as I think about Valentine’s Day, I have to admit that receiving love and care is something that I am not so good at. I’d like to say it’s because it’s just awkward to be the center of someone’s attention. But if I’m honest, I have to admit it's more accurate to say that it’s because I’ve experienced a lot of disappointment. Sometimes the dreams and imaginations of hoped for love and attention from others, has all too often, left me peering down into an empty bag.
It is in these times, where I find that leaning into the love of God becomes critical. As a believer, it has taken many years to fully embrace that the Lord loves me. When I was little, I knew the song, “Jesus loves me this I know…” but I didn’t embrace this love. I categorized it as Jesus loves me because He kinda has to. Sort of like the Valentine’s gifts of my childhood, where it was required that you make them for everyone in the class. I believed Jesus loved me because He had to love everybody; those were the rules. But me? Was I special to Him? Could He, would He choose me? Did He actually know my name?
The Bible tells us that He does indeed. Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His.” There is something about this verse that speaks so deeply to my heart. It goes hand in hand with a verse in Isaiah 49:16 where God says to us, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of My hand”. There is a deep truth in these verses. A truth that goes beyond feelings. A reality that surpasses sentiment. A deep contentment that comforts my heart through the inevitable disappointments that happen in our earthly relationships. The truth that when we receive Jesus, we BELONG to Him and He knows our name. This truth allows me to be confident in God’s love, to know that His love for me is permanent and unwavering, to give my love to the One who will not disappoint has brought incredible healing and worth to my life. I pray that this Valentines Day, you will take some time to meditate on God’s love for you and fully receive it! Here are a few ideas to help you focus on His love.
Make a list of some ways you have felt God’s love and let those memories fill your heart.
Get outside and go to a place where you see His love at work in creation and bask in that beauty.
Buy yourself a little treat or snack and while you eat it, thank God for His sweet love for you.
Do an art project that represents God’s love to you and put it up for the month.
Meditate on a verse from the Bible and ask God to help it sink in. Jeremiah 31:3 is a good one.
Play your favorite love song and imagine that you are singing it to Jesus and/or He is singing it to you.
Sending you my love this Valentine’s Day,