What's sad about Robbie's day care is that his classmates' parents rarely bring candy or birthday treats that he can eat due to his corn allergy. So when they have parties (like, say, a Valentines Day party) and everybody brings treats for one another, we have to spend five or ten minutes that evening separating the snacks he can eat from the ones he can't eat (about each of which he says, "That one is for Daddy). The funny thing is, he seems to have grown used to this arrangement and he never complains. He's just happy with what few snacks he does get and enjoys the party and the sharing of treats with his friends. (And I feel a stab of self-reflection on the many V-Days I spent a sulky emo mess because I didn't have a particular girl, or any girl if I wasn't being picky that year) So, now I'm eating many varieties of gummy candy. High in high fructose corn syrup. Om nom nom nom...
This morning, Kim and I exchanged our Happy Valentines Day messages and confessed we hadn't really done anything for each other. Usually, she gets me a card and I get her a dozen roses or something similar. But we didn't have time, and she can't really even leave the house, and how are we going to pay for this new baby anyway? So we reaffirmed that we don't need gifts to express our love, and the circumstances aren't the best for frivolity right now anyway, and I went to take Robbie to school, go to work, and head to the doctor.
As I was in Walgreen's to pick up my prescriptions, I decided I was going to pick up small inexpensive somethings for my two valentines. Kim's gift was almost pathetically insignificant compared to any V-Day gift I've bought her in years past, but I went ahead and got her a single red rose anyway because A) it would be a surprise, and B) I knew she would like it. I also got Robbie a Valentines balloon for pretty much the same reasons. And I got really excited, not because of the reactions I knew I'd get (though those were pretty righteous) but because I knew the gifts were going to make my family happy.
This got me to realizing how wrong I've got Valentines Day my entire life. When I was a kid, I loved it for me. I got lots of cards with cartoon characters on it and, when lucky, a Life Savers lollipop. When I was an emoteen, it was still all about me--or rather, about what I didn't have, and how bad it made me feel, and how justified I was in my angst. In my few Single Awareness Day celebrations, it was still making a big deal out of me. And then, obviously, when I met Kim, I started to make this day all about her, which is pretty reasonable given the day's usual emphasis on romance.
Valentines Day isn't about who is single and who is married. It's about love. And love is the greatest gift God has given us. It's the truest reflection of His person in our lives. Every relationship forged in love becomes (or can/should become) a window into God's heart toward us, whether it be brother to brother, father to son, lover to lover, or friend to friend. John tells us that "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The who does not love does not know God, for God is love." God gave us the capacity to love because without it, what on this earth would be worth fighting/dying/living for? Love is what calls us to hope in the first place. Love is God's link to our souls, reminding us that we are part of something else, something bigger, something greater.
The more I learn of God, the more I realize that even the things that seem like they should be about me are really not about me. My stories are not about me, they are God's way of relating to me, allowing me just a hint of His creative heart from which all great stories are told. My family isn't about me, it's God showing the depths of His love through provision and revelation in ways deeper than I'd ever imagined. Not even my constant shortfalls are about me; they're His reminder that His grace is consistently sufficient for me.
Look, I'm not clueless. I know Valentines Day is, in fact, supposed to be all about spending time with that Special Someone and spending money on cards, candies, flowers, and what have you. I'm not Linus on stage with my blanket, telling the world that we've all forgotten what Valentines Day is all about. I'm just saying that God is challenging me to wrestle with everything these days, and today's realization is that often I have lost sight of the true blessing because I'm upset by the perceived slight of something I want. That's not just me talking about romance, folks, though obviously that was the example that sprang to mind today. (Another good example: I have a place to live, but who cares because what I really want is a house with a yard for my kids to play in. I have some awesome friends, but it still sucks because my schedule rarely lets me out to see them. Et cetera)
Okay, time to wrap up this rambling. If you're reading this, you're probably someone I love. So I want you to know that I am truly thankful for you. I apologize that I'm not always properly grateful for your friendship, your support, your prayers, your everything that makes me love you. But if nobody else said it to you on this Valentines Day, more than anything else I just want you to know that you're loved.