Beloved: Celebrating Love
So, here we are, it is Valentine’s Day, time to celebrate love?
This year, for their school party, I made my two young sons’ Valentines for their class party. Long story short, I bought candy Valentines and I guess that was a no-no. So at the last minute, I photoshopped their heads onto cupids. Charlie will be 6 on Monday, Sam is 8. When I did the first draft of their cards, I made Charlie a cupid and Sam a bodybuilder. I thought Sam would protest his portrayal as an angelic, half-naked being.
But when Sam saw Charlie’s card and the little boys belly rolled at the sight, Sam said, “Hey! I wanna be one of them, fat babies, with a weapon that kills people with love too!”
I was happy to comply, simply out of love.
After all, today is the day we celebrate love. I guess?
Enough has probably been said about the pros and cons of Valentine’s Day. If you hate it, I could tell you not to get caught up in the hype. If you love it, I could tell you how to make a perfect Valentine breakfast, complete with heart-shaped pancakes, berries, and whipped cream.
But instead, I want to make a new suggestion. One that has been bubbling up in me and is anxious to spill over.
Beloved, what is love?
Scripture tells us love is patient, love is kind. And it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. And love would not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
This leaves me to conclude, love is not human.
Truly, I believe I love well, but patience is not one of my superpowers. I have been known to be jealous and brag. And I have shamed another, sought to promote myself, gotten mad, easily. Furthermore, while I try and reject the list of wrongs I have recorded, it still comes to mind on occasion. Rarely do I cheer for the bad guy, still I know I am capable of doing so.
And I have failed to protect and trust.
My hope has faltered and heaven knows, I have given up on more than one occasion.
Failure has been my triumph more often than not.
Still, I believe I love.
I cannot say I hate Valentine’s Day, well, maybe I can. There will be heart-shaped pancakes and berries for my littles. My husband and I do not acknowledge the “holiday.” Personally, I would rather be appreciated on any other day than a day when it is required. But I do not negate the impact that it has on society.
Especially if you are lonely, Beloved.
It is an “in your face” event. Honestly, maybe this is where I find my distaste. As someone who loves to love on mommas, women, and children, I cannot stand to know, today hurts some. Whether it hurts for the continued emptiness or the memory of love lost, it is just one of those days when it is not enough to say, “don’t let it get to you.”
We were created to crave something. And we long to be filled up, showered upon, and overflowing with love. If this has evaded us in some category, it would be belittling for me to say otherwise.
Furthermore, while I would never encourage you to wallow in misery, I stand by my belief that grief is a celebration of loss, an active party all of us must attend at some point.
And if today is your day, I pray you rock the house.
Beloved, if you must eat frosting out of the can in your pajamas while watching Sleepless in Seattle, again, let it be.
However, I am drawn back to love. And I wish to state this, while I do not believe we as humans are love, love dwells in us, and we are capable of the experience.
Granted some who might read this may have a partner and still feel the pangs of neglect. To you I say the same, what are you missing in love?
Because whether you are alone or just feel alone, a twinge of the missing parts might only be the part we fail to acknowledge.
At my other “job,” where I paint on Wednesdays and make glitchy one-liners for retail markets, my agent-friend, Blakely, and I were coming up with a new line of sayings. We were tossing words back and forth and she said, “You must first love the I before you can love the we.”
Perhaps this is just as hard to comprehend as what love is.
But Beloved, I feel so inclined to say, the “I” part of you is so much bigger than the “we” that you crave.
You may be entirely alone, but you never really are.
And you may have a partner, who doesn’t even realize it isn’t still January, still, you are never really alone.
I wish I was a more masterful wordsmith, that the pangs of my heart might translate better. There is nothing that probably hasn’t been said in relation to the hurt that accompanies Valentine’s day. But Beloved don’t miss this, you are entirely loved by Love.
I heard a speaker recently say, “I don’t use the word God for the same reason I don’t use the word love. Humanity has made a mockery of both.”
At first, I was offended, but as I thought about it, I realized, she was right. We analyze God, tidy Him up, package Him just so, according to this teaching or that. And love, well, it is often judged in stems and glitter and accused of failing or not showing up, just because it didn’t look, feel, or smell the way Netflix promised.
And that is what I was left with.
Humans fail, Love never does.
People and holidays will come and go, Love never abandons.
Goodness isn’t this where Valentine’s Day is such a wreck? This day doesn’t define love, how small would that be?
No, Love isn’t a partner, child, friend, candy, roses, or dinner by candlelight. Love is a force, an immense and raging energy.
Love dwells in you now, right at this moment, that you might never grieve without hope or suffer without restoration.
Beloved, Love is a charge of power so all-consuming and zealous it would die a brutal death and rise again so that you might live… forever.
I do not neglect today might be your least favorite day, but I beg of you, do not neglect or blame Love.
Real Love came in human form, but He was not bound by flesh and bone. True love, Valentine’s Day, and happily ever after cannot compare to Christ in you, the greatest mystery, the hope of glory.
You must love the I before you can love the we… and He is the essence of I. If for a moment I acknowledge what is good and right and pure and holy about the me that is impatient, greedy, obnoxious, lazy… any of those things, He who is Love is magnified.
Oddly, the more I compile the more I despise Valentine’s Day. And not because I won’t be romanced, truly, pick another day, but because it has somehow robbed love of the one Love that is all-consuming.
Yeah, I know that is not true. No one can undo the work of the cross, but the thief comes to rob and destroy. The enemy is the opposite of Love. And he will use whatever card, love note, caramel-filled, heart-shaped, flashy trinket he can to make others believe they don’t have it.
But Beloved, you do.
So no, we humans are not love, but we embody it.
And that Love is ours on this day, yesterday, tomorrow, the next, and the next.
In which case, every day Love might be celebrated, poured into your lap, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.
Lucky you, Beloved.
Jesus be all over you. Love, Jami
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