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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
I've had complex feelings about Valentine's Day most of my adult life. I was married to an addict for many years. Binges were sure to occur Christmas Eve (my birthday), Christmas Day (Jesus' birthday), and New Years Eve. There was never enough time to heal and forgive before Valentine's Day rolled around. Subsequently, I developed a habit of rolling my eyes in February when heart-shaped balloons hang in clusters from market ceilings like grapes on the vine. Can't a single girl buy a gallon of milk in peace?
Enter, Valentines Day, 2013. My brother is visiting from L.A. My husband has just returned from camping for the second time this month (allegedly) when he takes me aside to whisper, "I'm moving out. Not to worry. God told me He will send someone to take my place."
Um, Okay. I swallow the pain, stuff the humiliation, and in typical doormat fashion cook a beautiful dinner for my family. I didn't have the heart to not give my husband a gift on this special day, so I purchased a box of Girl Scout Cookies for him. Thin mints. The cookie of champions (and co-dependent women who've yet to develop the self-esteem to hold their husband's accountable for their destructive actions.)
I've been on my own now for seven years. I've dated once; Mr.Charming. Too charming, and the relationship ended abruptly a week before Valentines when it dawned on him that I was serious when I told him I was saving myself for marriage. Who gets dumped before Valentine's Day--twice?
The saving grace in this scenario is that God created me with considerable stores of weird humor. Laughter is a gift. And crying. The curse is to be numb. (I've been that, too.) So I schlepped my sad-self to Sports Academy, where I purchased a volleyball and later painted to resemble "Wilson", Tom Hank's make-shift companion in the movie Cast Away. (Because no one should be alone on Valentine's Day.)
Me and Wilson. Going strong since 2015. Not to brag, but he's an actor. "Perhaps you saw his work in Top Gun and Cast Away." (Funny quote I saw on facebook.)
What could have been a lasting "bad" memory has morphed into something I find hilarious year after year. Know what I did today? I bought myself a box of thin mints. Oh, yes I did!
The subsequent years go unparalleled in what God's shown me about loving myself. It began with a prayer: Father in heaven, In the name of Christ, I ask for the greatest gift of all . . . A love that allows me to be at ease with myself when life isn't' easy.
God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. But do we really know what this means? I see now that the will of God always begins within. The question isn't what shall I do next, but rather, will I yield to the Love who resides within me and allow Love to shape me in such a way that the desires of my heart are fulfilled naturally.
This Valentine's Day, cry if you must. But allow room for laughter. Ask God to give you something to laugh about if you're going solo.
Let God love you so you can get on with the business of loving others as you love yourself.
Mark 12:30-31; The greatest commandment.
"Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Peace out Bohemians!
Published on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 @ 10:57 AM CDT
I took a chance on something I believe in wholeheartedly. I spoke up and fell seemingly flat on my face. The great thing about this is the direction in which I fell--forward. With a mouth full of dirt I stood up and realized with gentle surprise that I'd fallen over the finish line. (At least for this heat of the race.)
I fell in the right direction, which is to say, I gained spiritual territory smack in the middle of the uncertainty of outcomes. God continues to reveal to me that vulnerability cannot rob me of my future or diminish my identity as His child--with or without skinned knees.
I encourage you to speak the truth in kindness even if it's scary. Re-gain territory in the areas of your life where you've gazed too long at the scene of your last fall. Look back long enough to recognize where you do not want to be, but refuse to live backwards. Have a sober look at the destructive patterns in your decision making that perpetuate past hurt and trauma. And then choose to move forward. Map it out. Where are you now? Where do you desire to be?
Create a plan that best illustrates not merely where you want to be, but who you hope to be in Christ. And then trust the Divine to direct your steps despite the hecklers in your head that chant: you'll never make it. Stuff a sweaty sock in your ego's mouth. Trust that you can and will make it.
"The human heart plans the way,
but the Lord directs the steps"
(Proverbs 16: 9 NAB).
"I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free"
We do not walk, run, fall, or cross the finish line apart from mercy and grace.
Published on Monday, February 3, 2020 @ 4:31 PM CDT