My Valentine's Day

I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. Not the way the big card, candy, flower and nonsensical gift-pushing corporations would have us do it, anyhow. I figure if God wanted us to dedicate only one day a year to loving one another He would have put the command for it in the Old Testament somewhere. Called it the Fest of Loving or some such thing. Instead, He's pretty clear with His commands regarding love. John 15:17 Jesus says "This I command: Love each another." No caveat, no conditions beyond it being His command. Just - love one another.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a complete anti-Valentine-ite. I made a wreath for my front door - it had a heart in the center of it. I made little mailboxes for each of us at home and we "sent" love notes to each other or fun little gifts. I gave my oldest son a couple of strawberry plants. He's looking to move out in a few months (I still can't believe he's a grown-up!) and absolutely loves strawberries. I pray they produce a lot of fruit for him! I made an "xoxo" and a "love" banner but that's just because I would so rather make something crafty than watch TV. I don't want to start reading a book too early in the evening. Something about reading relaxes me right off to sleep - no matter how good the book.

However. As usual, I digress. This year, Valentine's Day had me thinking. I was reminded of a conversation my husband and I had a few years back in regard to what we would like to do on that day and one train of thought had us serving the single people in our church an elegant dinner. It would be an evening of socializing with one another where they were served - lifting a finger to work would not only not be required but would be severely frowned upon (in love, of course). So - that's what I set out to do. I contacted a wonderful friend of mine who runs the singles group in our church for 35-49 year olds (yes, we have age limits and the logic makes complete sense) to ask her if this was something I could do for them. I found out she had already started planning something in the home of a couple we know (a beautiful home (and I mean 1/2 million dollar-type home...) and they just...turned it over to us for the night. Generous or what???) In my eagerness to share my idea, though, I didn't start out by lining up folks to serve with me. Nope...I just assumed my husband would love to do the cooking (he had, after all, expressed a positive response to the idea about 3 years ago...) and my Lifegroup would be able to step in a fill the gaping holes left in my plan.

Yeah... ummmm... it's Valentine's Day.

Turned out, my husband had to work (first day of the Home Show. Which brilliant mind was behind THAT idea???) and so did another couple in our group. The other two couples had already made plans and the other two are singles (and therefore invited to be served, not servants!).

hmmmm... a kink in my plan. So, I start emailing every single married couple I know and my good friend who leads that older singles group does the same thing. I come up with a big ol' goose egg. She doesn't find anyone able to serve but another Lifegroup donates gift bags and still another couple donated cash and dessert. What awesome gifts! I so love how a body comes together, even when it's not a "need." Oh - and my list of volunteers for NEXT year is actually a couple of couples long...

This year. There are 19 RSVP's in the affirmative and I'm serving them on my own. I'm an organized woman. A hard worker. I can do this. HA!!!! It's Friday morning and I'm starting to get a bit worried. I've already done most of the shopping (I'm still trying to figure out the final cost of dinner) and Friday night I'm getting together with that friend (who, by the way, as a single and in leadership was supposed to be totally served by this, not working but....) and we're going to mix up the marinade for the chicken and leave it sit.

Then... my mom. How I love mothers. I know I can say this because I think of my own son (home today with a touch of food poisoning...and all I want is to go home and be there for him if he were to need ANYTHING) and I know I would drop my life to help him if he needed me...

My mom is the same.

So, on Friday morning when I said I still hadn't found a couple to help me serve these 19 people dinner (salad, main course, dessert, plus keep drinks up and whatever else they needed...) and that I was going to dive in and trust God completely with the details, she says she can help me. Before she can say definitely, though, she's going to chat with my father (see, she was going to keep my youngest for the night so I could do this...) and see if he'll watch my young'un for a few hours while she's slaving away with me in another kitchen.

He said yes!!!!

So.... my very beautiful and wonderful mother and I mix together punch, put the chicken in the oven, mix red peppers with olive oil & a few other ingredients and get those ready to start baking after we've baked the hors d'ouvres, fill a large jar with water & lemons, set the table (beautifully, I might add) (and the table and hors d'ouvres were done with a lot of help from that same leader friend who was supposed to be being served...). Everyone begins to arrive, the hors d'ouvres come out of the oven and the party begins.

I know for an absolute certainty that God showed up that night. How I pray He enjoyed the dinner as much as those men and women who were our guests seemed to. There was a lot of laughter and 16 out of the 17 who showed up seemed to enjoy the food. After they finished eating dinner, I passed around a basket that held rocks I had written on (silver sharpie - black rock. Cool project!). One side said 'Fix...Fill...Guard..." and the other side said "Guard." I shared with the group how our pastor had talked in his sermon the week before about fixing our mind on the truth, filling our mind with the truth and guarding our mind with the truth and how it had struck me. On days like Valentine's Day when our culture has a tendency to try to tell a certain group of people (in this case, single people who do not currently have a "significant other") that there is something wrong with them for where they are in their life, Jesus reminds us there is nothing "wrong" with us. That "where" we are is not "who" we are. That He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no amount of chocolate, mushy cards or lack thereof is going to make us better or worse in His eyes.

We are His beloved.

What other Valentine do we need?

After I shared my rocks with the group, they adjourned for dessert and more conversation. The party that was to end about 9PM broke up completely about 10PM. It was an amazing evening and serving people on Valentine's Day, those people who are struggling to stand up under the pressure of a society that tells them they are "wrong" for not being married "by now" was a complete honor. It was not out of pity - please do not mistake anything I write as that. It is love, pure and simple. I was there. There are plenty of Valentine memories from my single days. I don't miss them, that's for sure. However - I also know that God had my husband chosen for me from before I was born and when my husband showed up in my life was also God's timing. The cards, candy, flowers and nonsensical gifts were not required.

Instead...I offer my love to God and I pray it is a fragrant offering.

No comments: