We have just passed the Day of Love, commonly known as Valentine's Day. It used to make me feel like a relationship loser - all these people celebrating their successful "pair bonding", while the single people swirl around in looking-for-true-love limbo. That feeling has changed over time as I have learned to look for, and receive, love in many places. Last year on Valentine's I kept my best friend's children so that she and her husband could have a well-deserved date. I think that was the year I quit feeling sorry for myself.
This week has been spent getting back in the traces after my recent long absence to California. I didn't realize just how much I loved my four walls until I stepped back into them and what I saw brought a smile to my face. Tonight as I've been hanging up yet more clothes, tidying up things I had not had time for before now, I keep smiling as I think of all the love in my life. God has blessed me richly in that alone. It is not that I'm so special or wonderful, and that makes people love me, I think it is more because I have been willing to GIVE love. Like everyone who has ever drawn a breath, love has disappointed. Relationships that went awry, abandonment by those who should love you most, love that was betrayed or treated lightly. Yet despite all that, we each have a choice...to protect our hearts from love and potential hurt, and therefore the warmth of human feeling, or to take chances and love thoroughly and well, no matter the outcome.
Love comes in many forms. It is the toddler yelling "Hey Jen-Jen! Hey Jen-Jen!" as he gallops towards you as you step in the door for the first time in months. It is somebody walking the ailses of the grocery store, buying your favorite pickles. It is a friend popping up to buy lunch and sit for a while. It is groceries left in your refrigerator and on your counter, and a pot of cheery, fragrant flowers left on your windowsill. It is a note given you by your brother, which brings you to tears as you read that he's proud of you. It's a couple in labor excitedly anticipating the imminent birth of their baby, telling you that you can't leave town until they're old and past childbearing age, "Just in case we have more than nine children!" It's a teary, silent hug and a teddy bear given as you say goodbye to a dear friend. It's a text that says, "I miss you!" It is a Valentine's card from a young girl, compelete with bedazzling. It is a dozen roses. It is a single daisy plucked out of the yard. It is fancy handmade chocolates, or a pile of fresh homemade muffins. It is a chocolate cake made by eight little hands. It is the sweet memory of conversation hearts being given by a precious Granddad, many years ago. It's movie and ice-cream night with a girlfriend. It is the reinforcing hand on your shoulder when sorrow puts tears in your eyes. It is an overflowing bag of goodies, given as a Merry Christmas. It is surprising a friend by showing up on her door and her jumping into your arms asking, "Can you stay for dinner?? Can you stay the night?? Can you stay forever??"
It is two arms stretched open wide as the Saviour said, "I love you this much." That is the most wondrous love that fills my life. What love story would be complete without a mention of Him? I would not know the true meaning of love if it wasn't for my Christ. He gave his life for me when I was not his friend, so that one day I could be.
How do I love thee? I just counted the ways....