Valentine’s Day is upon us. The celebration of the heart.
Three years ago, my daughter and her friend made Valentines for our whole neighborhood.
No. I’m not kidding.
(If you aren’t familiar with it, feel free to read the story above by clicking the purple words and then come back.)
I was astounded by the girls’ actions, and I’ve never forgotten watching them spread light in a dark world.
I was in awe of their enthusiasm. I was enamored with their openness.
They reminded me of a simple lesson: Don’t ignore a generous impulse.
Even if you are not a Jesus-believer, you probably know this verse, a favorite of mine:
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
Notice, there are no caveats in that command. (i.e. Only love those who love you, who live with you, who look like you, who are convenient to love, etc.)
If you’re really going to do it right, love demands a lot.
Walking in faith, you learn from experience that loving well isn’t something you do by yourself.
Knowing True Love is being in relationship. With Someone. The One.
He – the Spirit – makes it possible for us to really love others, because we alone do it so very, very poorly.
We think that Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love. And for most people, it is. But I would argue that it can be so, so much more. Because the world needs LOVE — in all its biggest and most brilliant, and smallest and very humblest forms.
I was thinking along these lines when I gave a short presentation to a group of 20 women a year ago. I told them the story of my daughter and her friend, and I explained the following:
“Don’t ignore a generous impulse. We all know that our world is beautiful, but broken. Lately, when we read the news, it may seem particularly dark and ugly. But the light isn’t far off. It lives within each of us. And we see it when we give it away….While many people told the girls how much they had appreciated the Valentines, the real gift the girls received was the joy they’d given themselves.”
Following the promptings of the Spirit will in all likelihood move us beyond our comfort zones. But how is God ever supposed to share ALL THE LOVE He has to GIVE if WE don’t step out and SHARE IT with OUR very own hands?
After speaking, I gave out 20 very basic valentines that I’d put together myself, and I invited the group to think about the people in their lives. Friends. Colleagues. Neighbors. Acquaintances.
“Do you know a woman who was just diagnosed with a devastating illness?
Do you know someone going through a divorce?
Have a coworker who has a troubled child?
Have an elderly neighbor who lives alone?
Is there someone in your circle who is bearing a heavy, heavy burden?
Is there someone you can just tell feels hopeless?
Is there someone who seems fearful?
Is there anyone you haven’t thanked for a kindness you’ve been shown?
Valentine’s Day is about love, and we can make it about so much more than romance and friendship between elementary school classmates. Let’s use it as an opportunity to reach out and say, “I see you, I value you, and I care about you.”
We wrote those Valentines to the people we felt might need a bit of True Love, and gave them away.
Maybe tomorrow, you could buy or make a simple note, and then extend your heart and the Spirit to someone in your circle who might appreciate a little something sweet.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 4:7)