Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Make the World Your Valentine

Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
True confession time here: I used to hate Valentine's Day. H-A-T-E. As in wore black and called it V-D hate. I was always dateless and often feeling alone. What good was Valentine's Day if I wasn't dating anyone? Isn't it just a reminder for those who are single just how single they are? 

It certainly is the message that permeates the airwaves. Fancy dinners, sparkly jewelry, risque lingerie, chocolates, flowers, and the whole nine yards of all things supposedly romantic. It is big business. BIG. That is the problem, isn't it? Love and romance have been taken hostage by big business, businesses that tell us it is about the perfect gift, about the most passionate chemistry, about what we get from someone else. 

It took me a long time to realize that the problem wasn't that Valentine's Day was just a reminder of how alone I was. The problem was that it caused my feelings to become the myopic focus of everything. All of a sudden, my life was viewed through this narrow tunnel that made it impossible to see how much love was already in it because of what I didn't have. No romance. No flowers. No chocolate. No fancy dinners with all the love. 

How I wish someone would have told me then to reach outside of myself. How I wish I would have thought then, that regardless of how lonely I felt, I still had love to give, and there were other lonely souls out there that needed to be shown love and kindness. How I wish someone would have reminded me that we are all in the midst of the greatest romance ever known with a God who loves us to death. How badly the world needs to hear that, to feel that depth of love.

What if we stopped allowing our emotions to be manipulated for this one day? That goes for us whether we are single, dating, or married. Let's switch our focus from buying or receiving the perfect gift to being the perfect gift to one another. Instead of making Valentine's Day the pinnacle of romance, let's transform it into a celebration of the kind of love that steps outside of ourselves to really see the person next to us, whether a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter, mother, father, neighbor, or stranger. That is where true intimacy begins, after all. It blossoms in seeing through to the heart of the other to see the fingerprint of God there - the God who shows us how to love by giving His life on the cross out of love for us.

Maybe you are alone this year. Maybe all the red hearts, chocolate, flowers, and not-so-subtle allusions to sex are making you queasy. Maybe you are married and tired, or maybe, just maybe, you love the celebration of love to the max and! First, I want you to take a look in the mirror and repeat after me: "I am loved. The God of heaven and earth loves me with the most ridiculous, amazing, powerful love ever known...He loves me to death and back to life again. I am His, and I am never alone."

Li'l G's first school valentine to share

Next, go find someone else and tell them to do the same thing. Make the world your valentine! Have dinner with a grieving friend. Take flowers to a lonely neighbor. Visit someone in a nursing home. Send a card to a soldier stationed overseas. Have a conversation with you parents and children about their lives. Call a long lost friend. Look at the homeless guy who sits on that same corner every day and flash him a big old smile (or take him a warm cup o' joe). Rekindle whatever in your marriage has been lost by the grind of every day life.

Whatever you do, get out there and love 'em like Jesus!

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