By Gregory Coles, Crosswalk.com
Help me today to understand what love really means.
I don’t mind the red and pink, the plentiful chocolates, and construction paper hearts. I don’t mind that the florists are having a lucrative day. I don’t mind whatever romantic comedy will be coming out in theaters, whatever beautiful heroine falls in love with a hunky hero even though they started out as enemies. I don’t mind the corny poetry and sappy love songs and interminable kissing. I think love is allowed to include all of these things.
But I need for love to be so much more.
I need a love that will still be there when the film credits have rolled, when the orchestra music fades away, when the stage makeup has been rubbed off and all our blemishes are in plain sight. I need a love that can handle my ordinariness. I need a love for unflattering bathrobes and bad hair days, a love that satisfies even when all the chocolate runs out.
I need a love that goes on living when the flowers are dead and buried in the compost heap.
I need a love that’s big enough to include all of us. Big enough for the dating and engaged couples, of course, with their giddy daydreams of a future together. But also big enough for the married folks, whether their passion for each other is still blazing brightly or barely more than a smoldering wick. Big enough for the singles toasting their independence, and for the singles wishing someone would come along and make that independence disappear.
For the lonely and widowed and brokenhearted, I need a love that understands, a love that welcomes in hurt and sorrow instead of excluding them. I need a love that knows how to weep.
I’m not against the simple, butterflies-in-the-stomach love that Valentine’s Day celebrates. I don’t need to be a cynic, scoffing at dewy-eyed youngsters as they trade love notes and bouquets. But if I let my view of love be determined by Valentine’s Day, both I and the world around me will miss out on so much as a result. I need a love that is better than flowers and candy, deeper than boy meets girl, stronger than romance. I need enormous, universe-consuming love—the kind of love that is far too big for any one relationship to contain.
The love I need more than anything is Your love.
Without Your love, no other love will ever be sufficient. And with it, every other love becomes richer and truer and more life-giving than it could have been otherwise. We have learned all our best loves from You: the love of faithful friends, of spouses and significant others, of parents and siblings and children. Love that commits. Love that sacrifices. Love that lays down its life.
You authored each of these loves, taught us how to recognize them and long for them and give them away. Our best efforts at Valentine’s Day are just a fraction of the wholeness of love.
So today, I ask that you would refresh my vision of love. Remind me of the love that fashioned me in my mother’s womb and dreamed up beautiful plans for my life. Remind me of the love that wept when humanity fell, the love that still weeps each time I break Your heart. Remind me of the love that sent heaven’s royal Son to inhabit our humble Earth. Remind me of the love that died to carry me home.
Today, let everything I see remind me of Your love.
Give me eyes to see the red and pink, the flowers and chocolates, the blossoming romances, as tiny windows into Your limitless love. Let me see the image of God in the faces of the people around me, in the hopeless romantics at their candlelit dinners and the cynics at home with a pint of cheap ice cream. Let me see You in the construction paper hearts awkwardly delivered on the playground, in the crayon scrawl of “Be My Valentine.” In our imperfect love, let me glimpse Your perfect love.
Fill me with that love until I am saturated. And then keep on pouring, until I’m overflowing and flooding my surroundings, until I can’t help but give Your love away to others.
Give me love for those who are easy to love and for those who are difficult. Give me love for my enemies, a love that confounds feelings and explanations. Make me love You so deeply that it becomes impossible not to love anyone created in Your image.
Let today be a day for love. Real love. Big love. Your love.
Read More: Valentine's Day Prayers
Gregory Coles is an author and an English instructor at Penn State University. Learn more at www.gregorycoles.com.
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