It was her first time to give out valentines to her friends. She was only three. Her preschool was having a party and all the children were to bring valentines. Thankfully, this was before anyone did anything fancy like adding candy or toys. We were only to provide flat small valentines in tiny envelopes.
She wanted to do them herself, so we let her. One by one, she wadded those flat valentines into small balls and stuffed them in the envelopes. She would not be coached nor aided in this project. It took her a very long time. We did have the good sense to video her working on this so there is actual footage of it.
What I blissfully cannot recall is whether I let her take her “work” to school to give out or if I swooped in at the last minute with another box of valentines that looked better. Knowing the perfectionist I used to be, I suspect it was the swooping thing. I’m so glad I can’t recall.
Yesterday, this same girl sent me a picture of what her boys were taking to their valentine parties, these amazingly packaged real hot wheel cars with candy that had very professional looking label that read, I am Wheel-y glad we are friends. I texted back, you’ve come a long way from your wadded valentines, and she has.
Then my mind raced over some of the Valentine’s Days that have passed. I remembered one from high school when a boyfriend brought me home from school and there were a dozen pink roses there with the words Cindy, I love you. I thanked him enthusiastically before I heard him growl in my ear, those aren’t from me. What can I say? In both high school and college, until I met my husband, I enjoyed keeping my options open.
Early on, while we were still in college, my husband and I started a strange tradition of having jalapeño pizza every Valentine’s Day. It went on for years and then, one year we admitted to each other that we didn’t really like jalapeño pizza. We laughed and then stopped that silly tradition.
Valentine’s Day is fun to me because it gives us chance to pause and celebrate love. And, of course, love comes from God. The reason we get to share valentines, flowers and pizza or whatever it is, is because God started this whole thing by loving us unconditionally and planting that love in us to share.
Bishop Michael Curry wrote a whole book on love, Love is the Way: Holding onto Hope in Troubling Times. I shared with the Inner Circle group earlier this month some of what Bishop Curry wrote that inspired me. Curry writes: The way of love is how we stay decent in indecent times. I do believe we live in indecent times with this virus, our rhetoric, our division, our short tempers. I feel like this planet we share is in indecent shape. Nations are rising up against nations. So many things seem out of order. No one has the answers, we just know it feels bad.
One thing we can do in these times is love, as God first loved us. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and God’s love becomes complete in us–perfect love! 1 John 4:11-12 The Message
In Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown’s latest book, she shares the nuances of eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. Just this morning I read what she wrote about love: We need more real love. Gritty, dangerous, wild-eyed, justice seeking love. I’d add to that we also need more simple, kind, playful, generous, sweet, funny love too.
Sometimes I wonder if it could all really be this easy, maybe it can be. Love overrules all the mess in our lives. It is stronger than anything because it doesn’t come from us, it comes from God.
I don’t know what you will do this Valentine’s season, maybe you will wad up some valentines, give flowers, eat spicy pizza or something even better. It’s all good. It’s all God. It’s all love. Oh, and we wheel-y need it.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. Go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com to read more blogs, see where Cindy is speaking next and to sign up for her monthly Inner Circle email.