Evidently, females purchase approximately 85% of all Valentine cards.
When I was little, we made paper Valentine’s Day pouches at school. I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old but the pressures of Kindergarten love were already looming in a world of disposable Cupids and the world’s gratuitous fascination and fidelity to a holiday earmarked by candy. It may be why, to this day, I am not a big fan of chocolate.
Or maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day reminds me of the moment I walked into my Kindergarten classroom and saw that little paper pouch tied around the back of my chair. I remember it clearly, because my little pouch was empty.
I didn’t understand the intricacies of love at the time, but somehow, the empty pouch spoke to my empty heart and said I was not loved. I did not know the Truth….yet.
John tells us in his Gospel, when speaking of the devil, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
Of this fact, Brennan Manning said, "He (the devil) prompts us to give importance to what has no importance; he clothes with a false glitter what is least substantial and turns us away from what is surpassingly real. He causes us to live in a world of delusion, unreality, and shadows."
Valentine’s Day is one of those things that glitter and can press any of us, widowed or not, to turn from what is surpassingly real, true, and important and live in the shadows.
But it does not have to be so.
There are differing opinions as to how and when Valentine’s Day began. At least three different saints are noted to have had the name “Valentine” or Valentinus; all of whom were martyred. Not a good start to romance. One legend has Valentine imprisoned, and who, prior to his execution signed a note to his love, “From your Valentine.” Others condemn the holiday’s history to the celebrating of Lupercalia, a fertility festival, and yet others declare February 14th as the first day birds begin to mate. And so it goes.
That day in my Kindergarten class, I stealthily (for a 5 year old) passed by my empty paper pouch as if nothing had phased me. Later, I was happy to find plenty of belated Valentine wishes tucked inside – my heart and future secured; or so I thought.
Until I met Jesus, love was as easily torn and discarded as was the paper pouch and its Kindergarten contents. When my husband died, my heart felt like paper again, as did yours. And Valentine’s Day became not a romantic fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams, but a mockery of what was lost.
How can a day of paper Cupids and candy define love? How can it hold such sway and power? How? Because the devil is a liar, remember? He gives importance to what has no importance, and he makes it glitter.
I didn’t know, back then when I was 5, that I would be writing to you today. But now I do know that paper hearts and candy don’t fill my emptiness. Only the Risen Christ can do that, and He has left no doubt or option.
So the day you dread has arrived…. but your Risen Christ says do not fear, what can mere mortals, or Valentine, or Cupid, or Lupercalia do to you? Your Risen Christ reminds you this day:
“I Am your light and salvation – do not fear. From everlasting to everlasting My Love is with those who fear Me, and My righteousness with their children’s children. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…, for I will go with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. And even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil, for I am with you.”
So, go to church, go out to eat, buy yourself some flowers or some candy; chocolate if you have to. Stand tall, even when others don’t quite know what to say to you. You have loved, and do still. You have been loved, and are still. Plan for a few tears, or maybe a good cry, and when the day has passed, you’ll look back and you’ll know – “Cupid didn’t get the best of me…. Christ did, and His Word, the greatest love letter ever written tells me so.” *
“Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world.” (1 John 2:15 HCSB)
Ps. 27:1; Ps. 103:17; Deut. 31:6; Is. 42:3; Is. 54:4; Ps. 23:4