Growing up, love was a four-letter word. It lived down the road, or around the corner…anywhere but in my house. After an innocent need to say, “Excuse me,” I commonly heard, “There’s no excuse for you.” After I won the national DECA championship as a senior in high school (a marketing organization keen on training and raising up the next generation of business professionals and entrepreneurs) my mother retorted with, "I always knew you could bull-@#*! your way out of a paper bag." My “brother”, a 20-pound ball of fur with fangs, chased me up the stairs nightly, egged on by both parents and pounding fists on the two-story walls. Parental entertainment at my expense occurred regularly. But the words “I love you”? As I already told you: a four-letter word. My young, injured heart took cover like a child playing hide-n-seek in the curtains.
Now that I’m a parent myself I realize my parents did the best they could…really. Without the Lord in their hearts, their best was as tainted and skewed as the sin-ridden world surrounding them. No human love is perfect, even if you do love the Lord, or your children more than chocolate. And while I vowed “not to do what they did,” this conviction alone ensured nothing. Not doing the wrong thing does not equal the right thing. I was still human; no human love is perfect. There had to be a more perfect union between the human and the heavenly. There had to be a better way to love the children under my own roof.Enter in Love Day.
Jeff and I used to poo-poo Valentine's Day. We called it a commercialized opportunity to fill the coffers of American enterprise in the name of looooove (insert long, southern drawl here). I knew Jeff loved me. And my hips really did not want a box of chocolates to prove it (really, they didn’t). But it seemed unnatural to overlook the children on Valentine's Day. The least I could do was make a big deal out of the one day when they most expected to be loved, right?
Love Day started on the all-expected February 14th when Sam, in all the wisdom of Solomon, lamented, "I wish we had Valentine’s Day every month!" Now I'm sure his wish had everything to do with scoring extra sugar on a monthly basis, but he had a point. Why not love regular into these precious little hearts? Why not establish a tradition of long-expected affection? Isn’t that just what our heavenly Father does? Love passionately; love patiently. Love with a deep, deep love that, like the song testifies, is vast, unmeasured, boundless, and free? Sam was onto something. Every month’s 14th day was hereafter proclaimed, “Love Day.”
In preparation I bought out the local Dollar Store: left-over candy, heart-shaped everything (from plates to place mats to balloons), anything red and sparkly. (And on February 15th it was all on sale!!) When Love Day came around March 14th, I would be ready.
But while my human aspirations soared, my human actions fell flat. I forgot. March 14th, April 14th, May 14th all came and went. By June, Love Day was long-lost memory, but not long-forgotten.
“Lord, what am I missing? I so desperately want to love these children as you love me, and yet I forget, or more honestly blow-off my chance to love on these children. How can I make this a more perfect love?
"Tell them how much I love them" He replied.Ahhhh. The crickets from last week danced a little tango while the Truth of this settled in. Tell them of the love of Christ. Tell each one how much they are treasured and lifted up and purposed for God’s Kingdom. I am only human, and human love is never perfect. But God will never fail them. God loves them with an everlasting love. God loves them perfectly: vast, unmeasured, boundless, free.
So I set to work writing individual love letters to each child, straight from Scripture. Nothing more, and definitely nothing less.
See how very much your heavenly Father loves you, for He allows you to be called His child, and you really are!
- God (1 John 3:1, NIRV)
I have loved you with an everlasting love.- God (Jeremiah 31:3, NASV)
You belong to me, my dear Samuel. The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. - God (1 John 4:4, NLT)
I may not have experienced perfect love at home, but Jesus understood my experience perfectly. And He already had a rescue plan for the child behind the curtains.
“No hiding place has ever kept her save,” He says. “So she hides inside herself. Now to reach her heart the only way, is to hide in there as well. I will hide in there as well.” (I Will Find a Way, Jason Gray on the album Christmas Stories)
And that's the point. Love Day is perfect because it pulls back the curtains on a child’s heart. Jesus captured my heart by hiding inside with the fearful little girl. He wants to do the same for these four precious souls. I can either fill their hearts once a year with tokens of an imperfect love. Or I can fill it regularly with treasures of perfection – God’s very Word.
"I like that one," Sam, my doubting Thomas, says after the second Love-letter delivery. And I watch as True Love’s words set something free inside his heart. Jesus just took residence in a corner previously kept hidden.
Might I Pray for You?
We know you love us. Without flowers or chocolates or cards, your love lives deep inside our hearts. Forgive us for expecting human tokens of imperfect love to have the same impact as Your Word - heavenly treasures of perfection. Show us how to love with the love of Christ; how to live with the love of Christ; how to forgive with the love of Christ. Thank you for loving us day in and day out; for seeking us in our hiding places; for wanting to do the same for our precious little ones. Help us to trust You to find a way to hide in there as well. Amen.