Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Forever Valentine

When I was a teenager, I always hated Valentine's Day. It was fun in elementary school with the tiny folded cards of Tweety saying things like, "I tink I taw a Sweetheart!" But once you enter the pimple-prone pre-teen years, Tweety and his friends, well, they just don't make your heart skip anymore.

I was never the girl who had a steady boyfriend. I did have a few boyfriends, but not like some of those popular girls, you know, the cheerleader-types who always seem to have a "fella" as Mama would say. My best friend was one of those girls. She was always wearing some article of clothing that didn't belong to her- a class ring, a jacket, or some other ill-fitted garment that was the property of her fella.

Don't get me wrong. I wasn't exactly ugly, unless you count the time I tried to have my hair cut like Dorothy Hamill and I looked more like Luke Skywalker. Oh, and the braces didn't help much either.

I was pretty cute, if I do say so myself; I was just not in the Steady Boyfriend Clique' at the time. I spent my weekends at the mall with the girls shopping at Claire's for bright red beads and matching wide belts, you know, to wear over our oversized sweaters. Then we'd eat pizza or go to Chick-Fil-La and heckle the other kids from school who had to work that Saturday.

We were sweet like that.

What I'm saying is that in all my teen angst days, I can't remember having a boyfriend for Valentine's Day.

Do you hear the violins now? Give me a tissue, please...

No boyfriend. Age 14. Tragic.

One year my parents, in the relentless pursuit to impress their parental devotion to me, sent me flowers at school. Can you imagine? I know they did it out of pure, parental torture, I mean love, but FLOWERS FROM YOUR PARENTS! Can you be more embarrassed?

As if!

I got the call from the office over the intercom. (This was back when they allowed flower delivery at school right before Al Gore invented the Internet.) I was probably daydreaming in class about Kevin Bacon or Ralph Macchio, chewing my pencil and looking up at the ceiling tile when the secretary announced that "Melanie has flowers in the office."

Melanie! That's me!

Oh, who could have sent them? Is it Kevin? Maybe Duran Duran finally got my fan letter. I wonder if it's roses!

I remember that it was raining at lunch when I walked the breezeway to the office to claim the floral expression of devotion from my future husband. (I was 14, remember?) I can't remember exactly what the flowers looked like, but I remember finding them among other floral and helium arrangements of affection on the secretary's desk. Nestled in my flowers was a tiny box of chocolate mint candy.

Flowers and candy. He knows me so well.

Then I read the card. My heart sunk when I read the signature,"Love, Mama and Daddy."

I knew they meant well. They did. But at the time, that knowledge didn't make me feel any better. It just made me think, "I am the poster child for the teen cut down of all time- Only your mama loves you."

It didn't keep me from eating the chocolate.

And I realized that it really was a sweet gesture. At 14, or at any age really, sometimes you are just confused about true love and valentines.

Sometimes, even as adults, we don't understand that we can have a "Valentine" forever.

Jesus. He loves me every day, not just on February 14. He doesn't show His Love for me by sending roses or cards. He expressed His Love for me and for you over 2000 years ago. He stretched out His Arms on a cross, and after much suffering, suffering that we cannot even comprehend, in the most extraordinary expression of love for all mankind, He died.

He died for me. He died for you. He died and rose again so that we may live with Him in Heaven one day. And you know the best part? We don't have to send Him a card or roses, or do anything to show our love for Him. All we have to do is receive this offering He made for us all those years ago. That's all we have to do. Really! It's True!

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son
into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:7-10 NIV

If you are feeling alone this Valentine's Day, know that you are loved. You are loved by the One Who Is Love.
Flowers will die. Cards will fade. But, the Love that Jesus Christ has for you, will endure forever.

All you have to do is open your heart and believe.


ForUsThreeGirls said...

M...that is just beautiful. Thanks for the reminder!


Tammy said...

Beautiful...it goes along with what I said on my post from yesterday...He so LOVED the world...

Today I posted about first Valentines...but not the kind you might think...

(Oh, and I thought your line was cute about wondering if Duran Duran finally got your fan letter...):)

A Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family, Melanie!

Big Mama said...

Loved this, Melanie. You made me laugh and cry.

Jessica said...

Great post! I linked from Everyday Mommy and after reading the Ethel Story, I had to jump in with both feet... not just my toes... and start reading! You are a very talented writer and I'll be back to read some more once the babies are in bed.

Linda said...

Very, very sweet.