Red Plush Teddy Bears, and Other Things I Don’t Want on Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day, please don’t buy me this.

For Valentine’s Day, please don’t buy me this. 150213 Red Bear

I just wanted to give you a heads-up, in case you were thinking about it.

Although, there is something about that “Kiss ME,” with ME in all caps like EVERYONE wants kisses from the recipient and the blushing bear has to plead for his spot in the queue. That would be interesting.

And unlikely.

So, ego-stoking as that might be, and as grateful as I would be for your thoughtfulness and all … Gigantic red plush teddy bear? Nah, I’m good.

It’s the season of love, and despite the rampant cheesiness, for singles and many times couples alike, this day has a way of highlighting the deep-seated desires we alternately try to hide, ignore, placate, numb, and gratify in a variety of ways. We long to love and be loved. We ache to be chosen, to be held. We wait for the pain of loneliness to be soothed, and the sting of rejection to be healed.

I want these things. On Valentine’s Day, on every other day of the year.

But this year, I’m thinking about three things I don’t want on Valentine’s Day.

1. On Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to overlook Perfect Love. I believe the desire for love, for human companionship, for physical affection is natural, beautiful, and good. As I’ve walked the road of singleness, I’ve fought the urge to bury my hopes, believing that this longing is a good part of who God made me. Lately, like a little, tottering child, I am taking my longing to the One who put it there. I am amazed at how clumsy I am at receiving Perfect Love from the author of Perfect Love. It is as simple and as hard as sitting quietly and receiving. It is as simple and as hard as hearing and believing when He says:

“The Lord your God … will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.” (Zeph. 3:17, ESV)

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deut. 33:12, NIV)

2. On Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to shut my eyes to the people around me who are hurting. It’s easy to fixate on my pain, to listen to the voices that tell me my burden is heavier than anyone else’s. The truth is that I have been sheltered from all kinds of painful experiences in my life and have been loved better than I deserve. The truth is that many people (singles and couples; men and women; young and old) hurt in many ways. The blessing and privilege of being God’s child is that I become a recipient of His love and am entrusted with sharing it with others. So I’m learning to be quicker to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:14, ESV).

3. On Valentine’s Day, I don’t want to think I am loving when I am in fact self-serving. I Corinthians 13 reminds us what real love looks like: patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude.

“It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.” (I Cor. 13:4-8)

It is so easy to put on a mask of caring for my own selfish reasons. To get people to like me. To feel good about myself. To get what I want. On Valentine’s Day, I want love to be genuine (Rom. 12:9).

And every day all year long.150213 Roses.JPG

Oh, and for the record: I accept these year round.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For the literary-minded, here is a quote and a love poem to enjoy.

“God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Love (III)

By George Herbert

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.