“Miss Kyla, I have a present for you,” my little friend told me a few days ago with a shy smile. She placed a piece of paper on my desk, eagerly anticipating my reaction. It was a piece of notebook paper that was folded in half, the one half folded down another time. She had drawn a present, and when I unfolded the paper, it revealed a little, brown puppy that was inside the green gift adorned in red ribbon.
“Oh, thank you” I replied, smiling and trying to act ecstatic about my “gift.”
She merely smiled and rocked her body back and forth in her shyness. This little scrap of paper had a deep meaning to her. The scribbles from her crayon held a specific purpose. She brought me her best to show me her love for me.
There was no particular event or date she was celebrating with the giving of that gift. It was not a special holiday or birthday. But my little friend decided to create a masterpiece that would express a little bit of her love for me. She did not keep this aside and wait for a special day.s
To be honest, sometimes I do not appreciate those scraps and scribbles. Something the, “oh thank you” is quite forced and robotic. Working as a Kindergarten assistant means being the receiver of all sorts of treasures. But it is ironic to me that I tend to value the gifts that the parents of my students give rather than the ones made by the hands of those I have poured myself into. I tend to value the gifts that have more monetary value than those that were made with more love.
TRUE LOVE IS ROOTED IN CHRIST’S LOVE FOR US
Valentine’s Day, like any other holiday, has become vastly commercialized. Immediately after Christmas and the New Year, we begin to see purples and pinks sprinkled throughout the stores and the teddy bears and chocolates that have become all the rage during this time. Valentine’s Day has become about giving the most romantic gift, also gifting candy, jewelry, and stuffed animal companies millions of dollars each year.
Do not let yourself be dragged along with the commercialization wave that sweeps across the nation each Valentine’s Day. True love is not expressed only one day a year. Love is an action that, as believers, we express each day as an overflow of God’s love for us.
Love is a mark that we belong to the Lord. 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” As followers of Jesus Christ, “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love derives and originates from Christ’s very love for us shown on the cross that empowers us to love those around us. Since we now have Christ’s love in us, should we not seek to express this love every day? Should we not be excited to show others God’s love through the love that we express even when we don’t feel that others deserve our love?
This is expressed in little glimmers of light we give by the way we live each day.
TRUE LOVE IS A PRACTICE
Each day, make it a practice that when you walk into a room, you ask, how can I serve others, not how can others serve me? We so often have our eyes focused on ourselves and want others to listen to what we are going through rather than remembering that we are not the only boat being tossed to and fro by the waves of life.
After my grandfather died two years ago, it was incredibly hard to step back into the world after the funeral and strive to catch up as we seemed to be moving in slow motion. During this overwhelming time of grief, I had a couple of friends who encouraged me in very tangible and thoughtful ways.
During some of my darkest and most distracting moments, I had a couple of friends who just listened. You do not have to have all the right things to say. Just be present. Make it a practice to stop talking about yourself, and pay attention to those around you. Who can you listen to today? Who needs someone to stop and be willing to give up some of their time to simply listen?
I also had several friends who sent me encouraging texts, phone calls, and cards. Look around and use the tools that the Lord has given you to encourage those around you. Pick up your phone and send a quick text telling someone that you are thinking about them. Pick up your pen and a piece of paper and scribble a few words, sentences, or verses that show that you care about them.
As the weeks dragged on after my grandfather’s death, I entered into the phase of grief where many forget or assume that my valley had come to an end. In these difficult days and weeks in high school when I struggled to plaster a smile on my face and focus my mind, I had a couple of friends who continued to reach out and ask me how I was. It meant so much that they remembered what I had been going through and cared enough to reach out and ask about me.
Do not wait until Valentine’s Day to show your love for your loved ones. Use this day to express your love, but do not let it stop here. Holidays must be an expression of an everyday reality, not a truth that exists only once a year.