Traditions, Expectations, and Love: Valentine’s Day in Retrospect

I was highly amused by my Facebook newsfeed on Valentine’s Day and felt a few observations were in order. The newlyweds were gawking over the elements comprising romantic perfection (e.g. cards, chocolates, flowers, and special dinners). The singles were contrasting this day of love with their own life by generally either mocking the holiday, eating too much chocolate, or encouraging others with God’s love.

And then a select few posed an entirely different perspective. “Why should demonstrations of love be reserved for just one day of the year?” they asked.

This question puzzled me. As a sincere romantic, I initially thought this was disgracing the legacy of love. But thoughtful consideration has generated even deeper questions.

Photo Credit: Freakysita via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Freakysita via Compfight cc

Have we allowed holiday traditions to dictate our expectations of love? And consequently, have we reduced love to chocolates and roses?

Isn’t the truest love to lay down our lives for another? (John 15:13) To esteem others better than ourselves? (Philippians 2:3) Authentic, Christ-saturated love is not bound by time or tangibles. It is perpetual and powerful. (1 Corinthians 13:8, Song of Solomon 8:7)

Flowers wither in time and chocolates vanish once eaten, but real love never fades. Let me be quick to say, I love both flowers (especially gerbera daisies) and chocolates (the darker the better). And I realize these can be demonstrations of love.

My concern is the subtle replacement of intangible, self-sacrificing charity with tangible perishables. One box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day will never mask the absence of genuine love on the other 364 days.

Love endures long and is patient and kind;

Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy,

Love is not boastful or vainglorious,

Love does not display itself haughtily.

Love is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride);

Love is not rude, unmannerly, and does not act unbecomingly.

Love, God’s love in us, does not insist on its own rights or its own way,

Love is not self-seeking;

Love is not touchy or fretful or resentful;

Love takes no account of the evil done to it (pays no attention to a suffered wrong).

Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes,

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person,

Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances

Love endures everything without weakening.

Love never fails, never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end.

I want to propose a 365-Love Challenge. It is simple: each day pick one aspect of love (listed above) and intentionally demonstrate it. Take it one day at a time. Love is a marathon, not a sprint.

My desire is to be an incessant conduit of Christ-saturated love so that by next Valentine’s Day there will be a legacy of authentic love to validate gerbera daisies and dark chocolate.

Will you join me in purposefully and authentically loving those God has placed in our lives, every day for the next year? Would you take 60 seconds to send me an email so I can pray for you and encourage you along the way?

Let the 365-Love Challenge begin!

How Living in the Moment will Change Your Life

I frequently find myself living life in either rewind or fast-forward. Sometimes simultaneously, which creates a truly frantic scene.  Perhaps you can relate. Whether reminiscing of the good ol’ days, reliving the epic event from last week, or anticipating the adventure of tomorrow, the present becomes obscured.

Have I inadvertently become a bystander by watching my life through an awkward combination of trailers and documentaries? What happened to this moment? Right now?

A series of recent adventures and uncertainties challenged me to be fully present. To stop gazing at the past and fretting over the future. To enjoy each minute as it came. To trust God fully.

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Simple moments, like basking in the sunshine on a walk to the train, listening to a street band, or watching pedestrians from inside a corner café, don’t have to be boring elements of a bigger story. They could be delightful experiences themselves. But how?

“Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise, sensible, intelligent people, making the very most of the time, buying up each opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Seize the moment. This moment. Resist the urge to constantly rush to the next milestone. Enjoy what God has given right now. He daily loads us with benefits. Have we taken time today to soak up His perpetual goodness?

Living in the moment reduces worry and consequently increases our faith. It is impossible to both delight in the abundance of God’s faithfulness this moment and agonize over the uncertainty of tomorrow.

Living in the moment fosters gratitude. We are more apt to see the goodness and mercy of God (and thank Him for it) when we pause to notice the details of now. Maybe it’s the last available parking space we’re able to snag, a gracious smile from the cashier, some goofy time with family, a brief moment of absolute silence, or fresh air.

Living in the moment creates enjoyment. People who worry less, trust more, and are prone to gratefulness have more fun. True story. Incidentally, they are also more enjoyable to be around.

Should we still make plans and set goals? Absolutely. But don’t allow future plans to overshadow the opportunity to live each moment to the fullest.

It is interesting to note throughout Scripture how although God eternally is, was, and will be, He chose to introduce Himself over and over again as I AM, the ever-present Lord. Here are just a few references.

 “I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Gen. 15:1)

I AM Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” (Gen. 17:1)

I AM the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I AM with you.” (Gen. 26:24)

I AM who I AM.” (Ex. 3:14)

I AM the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” (Is. 43:15)

I AM the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.” (Is. 45:5)

“Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I AM the Lord…” (Jer. 24:7)

“Behold, I AM the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)

“Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I AM the Lord who sanctifies them.” (Ez. 20:12)

“For I AM God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst…” (Hos. 11:9)

I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

I AM He.” (John 18:5)

I AM Jesus, whom you are persecuting….” (Acts 9:5)

I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)

I AM the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” (Rev. 22:16)

“Surely, I AM coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:20)

Will you take the challenge with me to live in the moment? To grasp the present? To know and walk with the I AM right now?

What moment-by-moment opportunities are you buying up today? (Please share in the comments!)