|My other Valentines...celebrating in Jamaica|
I love February. It’s a nice change from the long, mundane month of January, which always seems to pass at a snail’s pace. It’s a bridge between winter and spring, and the anticipation of fresh blooms, new life and warm weather is always exciting. My birthday is in February, as is Valentine’s, and these are two of my favorite days of the year. There is something about Valentine’s Day that makes people happy. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving. When you dedicate a day towards giving thanks, you start to realize how much you have to be thankful for. When you dedicate a day to love, you start to realize how much love is all around you.
This year, there was a paradigm shift in my perspective of Valentine’s. I’ve always thought of it as a romantic holiday, which it certainly is, but this year it became so much more to me than that. My parents and sister were in Jamaica over Valentine’s, and instead of a candlelight dinner for two, we had a family dinner with hamburgers, fried plantains, and chocolate cake. We celebrated the love of family — the people who adore you despite your dysfunction, who always want the best for you, and who embrace you just as you are.
Later that night, we took Valentine’s pictures. Kevin and I couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves. Five years ago our relationship blossomed at a Valentine’s banquet. We were both dressed to the nines, and have lots of glamorous pictures from that night. This year, we were in sweats, lacking makeup, hairdos, cologne or even a dab of lip gloss. As we posed for pictures, I felt overwhelmed by how grateful I was for Kevin and so amazed by how our love has grown. After three months in Jamaica, one of the things we’ve realized is that the best way to work on your relationship is to move to a foreign country, where you don’t know a soul, don’t understand the culture, and don’t have anyone else to turn to but God and one another! This year, Valentine’s Day was a celebration of our companionship — of the adventure of doing life together, of choosing to cherish one another (even when it’s not easy), and of the love we couldn’t fathom growing this wide or long or high or deep.
I also found myself reflecting on friendship this Valentine’s Day. When I think of the friends who have shaped me, supported me and shared life with me, my heart nearly explodes with love. God hand wrapped some of the most beautiful people and gave them to me as friends. From San Francisco to Washington DC and everywhere in between, I have friends I could call at any hour and they would be here if I needed them. This year, Valentine’s Day was a celebration of friendship — of friends I talk to once a week and friends I talk to once a year, of friends who have taught me the joy of differences and the gift of grace. I am a richer, better person because of them.
Lastly, this Valentine’s Day was a celebration of God’s passionate, unfailing love for each of us. I’ve grown up learning about this love, and always believing in it, but this year it was different. Perhaps it’s because I’ve needed God so much, and been so dependent on Him during a season full of so many changes and unknowns. I’ve been acutely aware of my inadequacies and desperately in need of His peace, presence and provision. He hasn’t failed me yet. This Valentine’s Day was a celebration of God’s ravishing love — love that restores, redeems and never, ever fails.
I don’t think there is a greater gift than loving and being loved. Take the final days of this month to love the Valentines in your life with reckless abandon. Take it from me; you won’t know what to do with the joy that fills your heart.
And now these three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Cor. 13:13
With love abounding,