Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day

When I got married, I naively thought that the lonely ghosts of Valentines past would no longer haunt me. I thought that from there on out I had a built-in Valentine! To buy me flowers! And lavish me with gifts! What I didn't think about was budgets, shared bank accounts, high expectations, poor communication and... well... human nature.

This year, I'm finally realizing that it's just a day. A wonderful day that gives me an opportunity to remind my loved ones that I cherish them, sure. But more than that, it's a day that reminds me that human love is a shallow imitation of divine love. (Yes I went there. I had to.) It's a day that gives me the opportunity to re-evaluate and re-orient my heart's dependence once again.

Human love is never 100% flawless. It is never 100% selfless. It comes close at times, certainly. I hope that the closer I draw to God, the better I can mirror His love toward others. But honestly, I love myself most of all most of the time, and that's hard to admit out loud.

Today it's like I'm looking at myself in a great big mirror and I don't like what I see. I'm standing there with an innocent look on my face, but with huge flashing arrows above me pointing down at this person who just doesn't love well, yet expects perfect love in return. Marriage has been a wonderful sanctification tool in this respect. I'm sure motherhood will be the same, or possibly even more intense. But my friendships also provide a platform to love well... or not. Same with the family that love deeply but often take for granted.

Yet this isn't cause for distress. It's cause for hope! There's something better out there. There is one source of UNWAVERING, ALWAYS FAITHFUL, NEVER FAILING love. And oh, how much greater will be my joy and how much lesser will be my disappointment when I look to THAT love to fulfill me, instead of the love of another messed up human being. If my Valentine's Day-- or my every day-- is good or bad based on how well someone else loves me, well, I may end up disappointed more often than not.

But if my eyes are on God? He never wavers, and my heart simply can't grow faint when it rests in Him the way that it can when I have high expectations of other people and they don't meet them. Eyes on other people - - > roller coaster. Eyes on God - - > peace. Hope. Comfort. (Incidentally, I just realized that my friend recently wrote a post of this very thing that she's been preaching to me for ages. It's worth reading.)

As I look back on my short little life, I can see that I usually have no one to blame but my over-sensitive self for my Valentine's Day pity parties. My first Valentine's Day with Ross, we were engaged and he had planned a really elaborate Valentine's surprise that involved clues and a scavenger hunt and honestly I don't even know what else. Because I misinterpreted his intentions, got really upset, and ended up pouting at home in Ft. Worth and missing whatever he had planned in Dallas.

Thus for our first two married Valentine's Days Ross was, understandably, a little gun shy. He didn't plan anything. This upset me, too, and led to multiple arguments. The two years after that, Valentine's Day fell during tumultuous times in our marriage and it was hit or miss. I believe flowers or chocolate were often involved, but very much out of obligation and not sentiment.

Last year we talked about it, agreed to not spend money, and things started off great. Ross had filled out some cute kiddie Valentines with things he loved about me and they were sitting on my desk when I woke up. But then that evening... Ross may or may not have bought me a gorgeous necklace, and I may or may not have gotten horribly upset that he spent so much money on something I didn't even want. I ended up crying in our bedroom and missing out on the dinner he had planned. (Again, I have no one to blame but myself for these disastrous responses).

So this year, we talked about it again: we have a Friday night tradition of takeout and a movie after a long week. Valentine's Day falls on Friday. Let's just do that. No gifts. Just time together.

I had lower expectations, but in a good way. (Although Ross' post-it notes were fun to wake up to.) Friday was a day full of reminding myself to not react selfishly if Ross didn't stick exactly to the plan. A day full of reminding myself that it's unfair to place so much hope in Ross when I certainly hadn't planned anything. A day full of reminding myself that God's love is enough. Only and always.

{Lulu's takeout. His usual. My usual. Chocolate Truffles. Winter Olympics. It was good.}

And finally, on our seventh Valentine's Day together, I didn't cry. I didn't feel sorry for myself. It finally surpassed my previous favorite Valentine's Day senior year of high school when my sweet guy friends sent a bunch of candy-grams from their all-boys school to me at my all-girls school. I felt so loved yesterday, and I hope that I can share some encouragement: take their eyes off of your Valentine (or lack thereof) and realize that there's something more out there. Someone who accepts you-- who made you-- just the way you are, and loves you desperately.

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