When I was in high school, I entered a Mother’s Day contest held by my home church. I wrote two paragraphs about why my mother was, without a doubt, the best mother in the world. I won. I think it had something to do with the line I put in about her always being willing to take the fried egg with the broken yoke. It was true. It meant a lot to me, and I felt it spoke volumes about my mother’s selflessness. I still remember how it felt to have my personal sentiments read aloud and to see my mother’s obvious happiness at being honored in this way.
When the Father’s Day contest rolled around, I entered that as well. I wanted my dad to know that I thought he was just as great as my mom. Again, I won. I think the part that touched the judges that time was about my daddy’s being willing to let me curl up on his lap on Sunday afternoons in his big recliner while he watched whatever sport it happened to be the season for. I was in high school, after all. I remember that Daddy teared up and smiled at me when they read my entry aloud. My heart soared.
From that time until now, I have taken great care in both choosing the cards that I give and writing inside them. People keep cards. At least I do. Every single one. So, I make sure that the cards I give are worth keeping, worth reading over and over again.
A few weeks ago, I went shopping for the perfect Valentine’s Day card for my husband. It took awhile to get past the flippant cards, the vulgar cards, and what I call arm-tackle cards, the ones that say things like “I know I don’t say it enough, but I love you” or “For all of the special things you do…” or “I don’t deserve you.” Honestly, if that’s the best you can come up with on the day reserved for expressing deep and personal sentiment, then maybe you really don’t deserve your Valentine. I think that people want to hear things like “I am sorry that I don’t tell you that I love you enough, so I plan to change starting now” and “I appreciate the following things about you…” and “Because you are such a blessing, I will honor you.”
By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, I had found the perfect card and poured my heart out in ink. My hubby’s eyes pinked up, and I knew that I had won again. Then, during our family devotional that morning, he said something to the kids that I, having spent most of my life listening to youth group Bible studies, have heard at least a dozen times. “Don’t forget that Jesus loves you most,” he smiled. “He’s our number one Valentine.” The kids nodded, and we were off to school, Daddy, to work.
For some reason, those words resonated in my heart this time around. All day long, even as I taught my students all about the writing process and sensory detail, I got side-tracked thinking about the fact that Jesus was indeed my number one Valentine. Finally, I blipped out completely, losing my train of thought in front of my all-boy fourth hour.
My heart squeezed, filling my eyes with stinging tears, when I realized that my life was, quite literally, my Valentine card to my savior, the one who loves me most. Feeling the heat of shame in my cheeks, I wondered how He felt about it. Did it convey a flippant affection for Him? Was it a vulgar distortion of what my relationship with Him should be? Or worse, and likely more probable, was I taking an arm-tackle approach in my personal worship?
So, these are the thoughts that have been rattling around in my head. Many of us are under the impression that our words somehow redeem our actions. I think God reads our actions instead. I know He sees our hearts. So, I have decided that if my life is the only love offering I am able to give to the One who loves me most, then I am going to fill it with “I love you” and “I appreciate you” and “I honor you.” I want my life to be the card that my number one Valentine wants to read over and over again.