Happy Valentine’s Day! I like romance and flowers and pretty things too. I do. It’s true! (And cheesy rhymes are good today – right?!) And yet, lately I’ve been thinking of love and of how warped the world’s view of love is. I’ve seen afresh just how easily my own heart and feelings have been shaped by the world’s concepts, rather than God’s concepts. Some of this is because I’m now married, and I’ve learned quickly that dating and romance are not the same as marriage and love. Lust and love are different.
True love is God’s love – agape love at it’s finest: selfless, pure, giving, sacrificing, a choice. And it’s hard. And it takes God’s love in me to be able to give it freely. It is costly. It is constantly being shaped and refined in me. It can not be demanded from anyone, least of all my spouse. So it starts in my own heart, and it lets go of expectations from another.
For instance yesterday morning was Valentines Day. I’d already discussed it earlier in the week with my husband. We decided to go out to eat on the weekend, not Valentines Day. He’d already said clearly that he didn’t need or want anything (even a card). This stuff doesn’t matter to him. I’d said I like something, something little. Something. This stuff matters much more to me. So yesterday morning he smiled at me and called me his Valentine and hugged me tight. My heart swelled with feelings of being loved. Then he said, “Is it ok then if I don’t get you flowers today, but wait until next week?” My heart’s warm bubble burst in a second. “Why?” I asked. He looked at me and said slowly, “Well, to save a few bucks.” I had an instant choice. Love him, or demand from him. If you know my husband, you’d know he loves me. He is generous to me, and good to me. He also knows I like flowers, and wanted to give me some. However, we are in a season where our income is lower than it was. He once insisted on buying me a dress at full price, simply because I liked it. Now he tries to limit unnecessary spending as our income has dropped, and in many ways it is him who has sacrificed the most in this area. In an instant I decided to love him. You see, Brad feels most loved when he feels my understanding and kindness to him. My husband is always honest with me, and I know that Valentines day flowers are more expensive then any other day. I know this. So I chose to respond in love. And you know what– my heart swelled afresh with feelings of love and his heart did too! And I was fine, really fine, with just getting a sweet card from him later in the day. I told him, “You know, if you bring me flowers, any flowers not just roses, as a surprise some day, that means more to me than 100 Valentine flowers.” So we’ll see if some flowers are bought next week, or if they get forgotten in the manner of life. But I’ve already determined that I love Brad regardless of if he remembers next week or not, and I’ve already determined to let it go if he forgets.
True love. God’s love. That is what each day is for. Valentines Day is a fun day. It’s good to remember to say we love those in our lives, and maybe give them an extra gift, or offer some exciting romance. But it is not what makes for true love. And when I was a single, I wanted the romance and the extra attention. I know Valentines Day can be hard on singles, widows, those whose marriage is not good, or even those whose marriage is good and they want the extra attention but don’t get it. Regardless, God’s love is true and was given on a cross freely. His love can make any day, even Valentine’s Day, full of love. But it will cost you — it will cost you the will to choose this, and that can be hard! It helps if we are already developing the practice of being loved first by God, and giving His love away — without any demands from any other person. Precious sisters, you are loved by God so much. May you press on to learn to give love away everyday.