I’ve always had a bit of a love affair with Valentine’s Day. I determined from an early age that this was one of the most important days of the year. As a little girl, I would dream about celebrating Valentine’s Day with a “love” and couldn’t wait for that day to come. As I got older, I valued myself and the success of the day based on whether or not I had a boyfriend with whom to celebrate. Many years passed and I was alone. I was sad, disappointed, and felt totally worthless. Not celebrating Valentine’s Day seemed a tragedy.
On the day I married my “Valentine,” I thought most assuredly that I would never again spend another Valentine’s Day alone, not celebrating the fantastically romantic day. Interestingly, my husbands perspective of this “holiday” was quite different than mine. His view: Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark to fill the void between Christmas and Easter. He thought it to be a totally ridiculous and pointless day.
Needless to say, we bumped heads a little on this issue. From the day we married, I expected roses, cards, and romantic evenings to celebrate this glorious day. Year after year, that just didn’t happen. I threw numerous fits, shed many tears, and felt totally disappointed. Why didn’t my husband love me the way I wanted him to love me? Why didn’t he love me the way I loved him?
Clearly, the issues were much deeper than the lack of celebration of this day in February. I just couldn’t see that. I didn’t understand what in heaven’s name was wrong with my husband? Why wasn’t he being the loving, romantic, doting husband I had always dreamed about? The ones from the Hallmark movies?
As I’ve written before, (My Life as It Relates to Humpty Dumpty), these thoughts as well as many other frustrations began to well up inside of me. What was happening to my “happily ever after” that I thought I’d gotten on July 24, 1999 when I walked down the aisle with my husband??? I had everything I ever wanted, but days like Valentine’s Day were quite common. I was so disappointed with the way my life was turning out. I felt empty and in my heart I knew something was terribly wrong.
Through a series of events, God mercifully began to show me that I was more in love with the idea of being in love than I was with my husband. The concept of having the perfect husband, who would meet my every need, and having the perfect children, house, etc. had become my idol. I was looking to those things to give me the hope and joy that could only come from Christ.
“they worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).
In the book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller, describes what an idol is. “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” He goes on to say,
“Every human being must live for something. Something must capture our imaginations, our heart’s most fundamental allegiance and hope. But, the Bible tells us, without intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself. If we look to some created thing to give us the meaning, hope, and happiness that only God Himself can give, it will eventually fail to deliver and break our hearts.”
Idols: They can be subtle and dangerous. They can be good things … that seize our time, hearts, and attention, maybe without us even realizing it. They are the things that become more important to us than God.
A desire for something
Desire for approval
Until God opened my eyes, I had no idea that I had elevated the God given gifts in my life to a position of idolatry. One day, as I spent time with Jesus, I was overwhelmed with grief for my misplaced affections and disordered attachments. In that moment I sensed God’s deep love for me. A love so great that He sent His only Son to save and redeem me.
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us His children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
As I think about just how much I love my children, I am in awe that God’s love for me is like that, but even more than I can imagine with my human mind and heart – His love is perfect, strong, and unconditional. It’s a love that delights in me, regardless of my failures and inadequacies. It’s a love that is never ending and never failing. It’s a love that chases me all the days of my life.
Last year, I began praying specifically for a greater awareness of God’s love for me. As I studied His Word and spent time in fellowship with Him, something amazing happened. TRANSFORMATION.
A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day
I spent years dreaming of the perfect Valentine’s Day. Why? Because Valentine’s Day is about love. And I desperately wanted to be loved. In realizing more and more God’s deep love for me, I am being changed from the inside out. I am falling more and more in love with Jesus. I am looking to Him to meet my deepest needs; to give me meaning, hope, and joy.
So, Valentine’s Day looks very different for me than it used to. First and foremost, it’s a day that I celebrate the love of God and my sweet and deepening relationship with Jesus.
“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
It’s this Truth that allows me to love my husband and children and the others with whom I am in relationship in a Christ-centered, God honoring way. I love them out of the overflow of what He has given me.
Though for me the concept has changed, I still love Valentine’s Day. This year, it’s filled with the hustle and bustle of the kids passing out Valentine’s cards, chocolate, and even a special date night with my sweet husband. But I’ve changed. I’m no longer desperate to be filled up with the things this day offers. Because my true love is Jesus Christ: the perfect source of all I need.