With the month of February now upon us, we can look forward to different events and celebrations marking the road to spring.
We began yesterday with Groundhog Day, which often seems to brighten or dampen the spirits of many, depending on what side of the fence you sit when it comes to the winter season.
Certainly, February marks Black History Month and commemorates the many invaluable accomplishments of African-Americans throughout history, while also providing an important reminder of the work still needed to be done in order to achieve equality for all in society.
This year, February includes the Winter Olympics, showcasing the various talents of athletes from around the world.
And, in a little less than two weeks, we’ll begin the Lenten season and our spiritual journey to Easter by marking our foreheads with ashes on Ash Wednesday.
Oddly enough, Ash Wednesday this year falls on February 14, a date known by so many for a completely different reason.
Yes, Valentine’s Day – a day to celebrate your love with that special someone.
It’s a day for chocolate and roses, kisses and fancy dinner dates.
Back when I was in elementary school, I used to get so excited around Valentine’s Day.
On that day, students would bring a box of little cards to school and pass them to their classmates, inviting them to be their special valentine or thanking them for being such good friends.
The cards were of a particular theme – usually a popular cartoon character or superhero – and seemed to always have some catchy slogan or message like a train chugging on a track, saying “I choo-choo choose you!”
Indeed, Valentine’s Day would show us how loved and appreciated we were, and all the kids in the class would beam with joy at the number of cards they received that day.
But as enthusiastic as I was about Valentine’s Day, I remember also feeling very sad or disappointed, as I would often come home at the end of the school day without that special card from that girl for whom I had a crush, despite my sending her a thoughtful valentine.
I wonder if God can relate to these experiences and emotions when it comes to the spirit of Valentine’s Day.
Whether it be a sunshine or singing birds, acts of generosity from friends or community members, the gift of laughter or talents bestowed upon us, these and so many other examples illustrate how God gives us Valentine’s Day cards aplenty and seeks to speak with us daily, revealing His unconditional love for all of His creation.
In return, though, do we prepare a Valentine’s Day card for Him?
Do we tell God how much He is loved and appreciated?
Or, instead, do we avoid and ignore the Lord, leaving Him empty-handed when it comes time for Valentine’s Day cards to be distributed?
How many of us focus on other people or experiences, rather than devoting time and attention to God, who simply longs to lavish His love upon us and call us His children? (1 John 3:1)
But despite our sins, dismissal or even rejection of God, let us remember the Lord remains steadfast and faithful with His unconditional love.
Unlike those girls of my elementary school years on Valentine’s Day, God never breaks our heart.
Quite the contrary, He mends it by forgiving with mercy and understanding with compassion. He is slow to anger and graciously showers His blessings on His people. (Nehemiah 9:17)
So may this Valentine’s Day offer us an opportunity to fully embrace the love of God, while also gifting Him with our valentines, in order that we may show our gratitude to Him for everything in our lives.