For the Love

Oh, Valentine’s Day… you succeed in making me feel inadequate.

I won’t have the cute, Pinterest-inspired handmade cards to give out.
I won’t have the heart-shaped pancakes at the breakfast table.
I won’t even have the personalized little baskets sitting at each seat with the above mentioned pancakes.

No worries, though. My expectations are just as low for the receiving end of Valentine’s Day.

There will be no roses on my counter or reservations to look forward to. There will be no couples massage gift certificate or jewelry hidden sweetly held behind his back.

There probably won’t even be a “Happy Valentine’s Day” exchanged between myself and the man in my life (although he is listed as “Favorite Man” complete with the heart-eyed emoji in my phone, should you be curious).

Jewelry is not my thing; I lose it. The “never know what you’re gonna get” chocolates make me gag. Champagne gives me a headache and I’ve heard having a headache is not conducive for the romantic side of February 14th.

In just sharing those things, I’m thinking you may feel my heart is as cold as ice.

Not really.

I’m just a tad overwhelmed at the expectations that come with showing someone your love for them… On this one day… All to somehow celebrate a man who was beheaded.

How then to define love if nothing will smell like roses, be in the shade of red or very light red, or taste like cocoa and raspberry?

I find the dictionary a fantastic source. Mr. Webster defines love as 1) intense affection and warm feeling for another. 2) a strong fondness or enthusiasm.

To rest on this definition makes me feel not loving. About the only thing I have intense affection and enthusiasm for these days is a moment of peace and a good night’s sleep.

Regarding my children in their rebellion, my friends when they are being selfish, and my husband when we’re in conflict, my feelings don’t line up with this definition and I’m left wanting.

“And I will show you still a more excellent way.”
The apostle Paul pens these words in first Corinthians.

He has just exhorted the church of Corinth to appreciate the different giftings and talents the members of the church have. He reminds his flock these have been given to individuals for the greater good of the church body.

Paul now uses the above phrase to transition to a most useful chapter on what love actually is.

Here, I find great encouragement and hope. Here, I can see the practical outworkings of love rather than just internal feelings.

When I walk through difficult days and painful seasons with my children and husband, the call to love them is something I can do, not just feel.

I can choose to be long-suffering. I can choose to be tenderhearted.

Working hard to not be arrogant or rude, selfish, irritated or resentful, I will encourage them to not persist in their erroneous ways, but rather exhort them to right heart, right motives and right actions.

Even when life is not well, to love is to bear the burden of pain and hardship, believing the plans the Lord has for us all, hoping for full restoration, and trusting in Him to strengthen us each so that we may live a life worthy of the gospel.

If I am to chase after love, I need to constantly look for opportunities to show it, rather than expecting to feel it.

And the gospel will show us a still more excellent way:
But God shows his LOVE for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God’s love for us in this moment was not intense affection or a strong enthusiasm. His love for us, his action towards us, is not dependent on us making him feel good.

Rather, we were enemies of God and DURING that time of rebellion and hard-heartedness, God forgave us; fully, freely, and forever, all our trespasses by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside nailing it to the cross.

Here then is our example, our image, to behold. That because He first was patient and kind, not selfish or rude, but bearing with us our burdens and enduring our rebellion, we can go and love others.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to act, not to feel.

I hope that your Valentines Day is filled with the fancy dinner and pretty flowers, but that these might point you to a much greater display of love.

– Laurel Ewing, Women’s Ministry Director