Crap. I thought to myself. I need three cups of flour and I only have two. It was 1:00 this morning and I was baking Valentine M&M cookie bars for the kids’ lunches today. I wasn’t going to the store because of one cup of flour. I had already mixed together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and two sticks of room-temperature butter. I was too far in to back out. So, I took a scoop of the pre-floured goop out, crossed my fingers, and hoped the mixtures would even out and bake properly.
While my cookie bars were baking, I finished setting up the kitchen table for this morning. Cute little decorative plates, a vase of tulips, a smattering of pink, silver, and red Hershey’s kisses, little mailboxes for each kid with their favorite candy inside, and little wooden paint sets (Target dollar spot never disappoints). Finished with a cake plate of freshly baked muffins and store-bought chocolate Valentine’s donuts, and handwritten note cards to each of my babies. It was late, I was still in my scrubs from a busy day at work, but I loved looking at my decorated table. It took quite a bit of work, but it is so worth it to see my kids’ faces in the morning. It felt like Christmas Eve all over again!
Why go all out for Valentine’s? Of course, I want them to know how much they are loved. But if there is one thing I want to teach my kids about Valentine’s Day, this is it:
“God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of His.” -C.S. Lewis
Think about it. One portion of the population is all about roses, rings, and chocolates. Then there are parents running around looking for that blessed box of Star Wars cards with glow stick light sabers in them that little Timmy HAS to have. And not just one box, he needs two. Because his class has 20 students in it and there are only 18 cards in a box. FOR THE LOVE!!! And then another portion of the population just wishes it was the 15th already.
We all have reasons we love, tolerate, or hate Valentine’s. And I’m willing to bet, many of those reasons are other humans.
Maybe this is a good year for you. Maybe you have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day for the first time, or maybe the first time since whatshisname broke your heart a few years ago. Maybe you received a bouquet of roses at work today, and your dinner plans included candlelight and wine.
Or maybe this isn’t a good year. Maybe Valentine’s just reminds you of just how lonely you are. Maybe it stings to log on to social media and see all the gushy posts about “I’m married to my best friend and soul mate and I would die for him!” while you’re *still* single. Maybe it hurts to see pictures of Father-Daughter dances because you never got to experience that with your dad- maybe he wasn’t around, or- maybe he was, but emotionally and verbally abused you, and otherwise completely ignored you. Maybe your spouse left you. Maybe you’re happily married, but your significant other doesn’t do anything to make you feel important on days like today, so you steel yourself and put on a front and “Oh I just don’t even care about Valentine’s Day, it’s just a commercialized Hallmark holiday that people just waste too much money on. Really, it’s stupid. I would rather pluck my eyelashes out one by one.” (Calm down Susan). But really, there’s a part of you that really, really hopes there will be flowers when you get home… even though you know there won’t be.
The last thing I did before crawling into bed at 2 this morning was cut out red, white, and pink hearts. On each heart I wrote a Bible verse about love. And then I placed them on the wall next to the table in the pattern of a cross.
The Bible says that God “has set eternity in man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) What that means is there is a God-shaped void in every human heart. Every human has a longing for God- but we all fill that longing with other things. Often times these are good things. But if we keep filling a God-shaped longing with other things, that longing will never be satisfied. And those things have a nasty way of dictating our self-worth.
So, the cross shape on my kitchen wall and the verses on each heart are significant. Because even though I want my kids to know how much I love them, I’m also going to fail them. A lot. I want to point them toward the One who will never fail them, leave them, or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6). I want their hearts to stay steadfast in assurance of the love God has for them- that He loved them while they were yet sinners and had nothing to offer Him. He saw every dirty and nasty sin they could ever commit, and He said they were worth dying for. He sent His Son to live a perfect life that they could never live, to pay a debt they could never pay. And He did that because He loves them. He did that because He loves YOU.
Having a date on Valentine’s is wonderful. Sending your daughter with her daddy to a dance is precious. There’s nothing wrong with flowers and cards and candy. But ultimately, where are your longings for love being directed? Are you filling that God-shaped hole in your heart with other things, and other people? From my own experience, the more I fill that longing in my heart with God, the less I fill it with other things and other people.
Filling your heart with what God says about you will be an anchor for your self-worth, so no matter how you experience the frailty of human love, your soul will find rest in God alone and in the strength of His love for you.