I’ve never been without a Valentine since I was old enough to care about one.
I used to brag about the story of my senior year Valentine’s Day. From one boy, I received a soft teddy bear holding a satiny red heart; from another a dozen long-stemmed roses; and yet another a pair of beautiful gold earrings AND a gift for my baby girl, who was about 9 months old.
(Yes, you read that right, but stay with me, here.)
Oh, how proud I was that I was able to hook three poor fools who I had no intention of dating, liking or loving.
They had no idea.
Like most girls, Valentine’s Day for me was a measure of my worth, an outward sign that I was loved and loveable and important to someone. Therefore, I had to do everything in my power to ensure I would be getting something to prove it.
I remember as an eighth grader, breaking up with one sad boy who I knew had no money for a Valentine’s Day gift and going out with another who I knew would buy me one.
I married not too far out of high school, sealing the deal for all Valentine’s Days to come.
Or so I thought.
Here’s the thing.
No matter what I got for Valentine’s Day, there was still an emptiness I couldn’t quite define.
There may have been a moment of gratification, especially when I was younger, to be able to flash that red heart-toting teddy bear and dozen roses so that everyone would know that I mattered – to a BOY.
Even as a married woman, I still wanted to know that I mattered to a boy, and would build up grandiose expectations for the holiday. There must be flowers. There must be hearts. There must be chocolate. There must be fancy food. And there must be romance. Yes, something unexpected. Something that I did not ask for but deeply longed for. I was never quite sure what that was, but I wanted it.
And to this day, I’ve never gotten it, at least not from my husband.
Because, God bless him, no matter what he does, he’ll never fill that hole in the deepest part of my heart that longs for the sweetest of love and romance.
No, that’s a God-size hole that I’ve come to learn can only be filled by its Creator.
We all grew up singing the song, Jesus loves me, right?
Even after I became a Christian, while I believed that Jesus had love for me, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that He really loved me, in a personal way. I still wanted, longed for and sought after love that comes fom a store.
Even as a grown woman, I still didn’t grasp that Jesus love. I looked to my husband to be my one true love, you know, the one that us girls all see on television kissing Snow White and searching the kingdom for Cinderella.
And of course my husband loves me, don’t get me wrong.
But in my mind, that one true love does not disappoint, ever. Never lets me down, ever. Will do anything for me.
Those are some pretty high expectations, and it’s taken me years but I finally see that they are expectations that no man could ever meet.
A few years ago, I read Zephaniah 3:17 for the first time, and I started to understand.
“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Be still my heart.
How many men rejoice over their girlfriends or wives with singing?
Fast forward to last spring when I was at a women’s retreat in North Dakota and one of the breakout sessions focused on the content of the book, Captivating, by John and Stasi Elredge.
For the first time, I heard that those longings in my heart weren’t just silly school girl folly- God put them there. Because He loves us and wants us to long for His love the way He longs for ours.
Matthew 22:37 tells us to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. Isn’t that how WE want to be loved?
We talked about Psalm 45:11, which says, “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty.”
Enthralled? Tell me more.
Isaiah 62:5, ” … as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
There it is again, ‘rejoice over’ … me.
God rejoices over me. He is enthralled with me. He loves me, and He longs to be loved by me.
He wants to be with me so much that He left the throne and perfect beauty of heaven and suffered a criminal’s death, all to be sure that in the end, He would not be without me.
Now that’s love. And you can’t find it in a store. Or in a husband or boyfriend.
Sisters, I know it might seem easy for me to say because I’m not alone today. I’ve got the roses on my table.
But please know I get the emptiness. I get the sadness. I get the pain. I’ve been that girl rejected and alone, just like you might be or feel today. I know what it is to seek and long for affection that just won’t come.
But I don’t have to live like that sad girl any more because I know that what I’m looking for is already there. It’s always been there. Love came down for me; love lives in me. Jesus is love. God is love.
“My beloved is mine and I am his,” Song of Songs 2:16.
Let Him sing to you! Let His word pour over you today with precious hope, promises and love – true love.