Life. It can be really puzzling sometimes. One day you feel like you’re the happiest person alive in this big, great world. Then, by the end of that same week, you don’t even want to think or exist or breathe because the pain is so sharp.
Sometimes, life makes it really easy to quit. One day you think you’re so strong, then suddenly you’re on your knees begging to give up.
I’ve just had a week like this…
Sunday was Valentines Day. My first Valentines Day that felt real. I can imagine most of us, growing up in a little girls world of castles and fairy tales, would’ve liked to believe Valentines Day always meant something to us. After all, little girls no matter how small, want to secure that feeling of belonging to someone. I still remember how I would do my best to create a “date” for my parents. (Which really consisted of me and my brother spying behind the current if we’re gonna be honest here 😛 ) Transforming our living room into a magical sanctuary for love and all that mushy stuff as waves of classical music serenaded our lovers. I would “cook” and my brother would be the “server”, dressed up with tie and all. The table would be complete with rose petals, chocolate and glittery decorations. Sparkling juice was always on the menu, and whatever concoction I could come up with as a 10 year old.
But this year was different. So different it didn’t seem quite real. That night as I sunk into bed I was almost forced to believe I had made it all up, just like the little girl days. I was in the head of a queen who couldn’t fully comprehend the extent of her riches. So loved and cherished and trapped in a state of awe.
I spent nearly an hour and a half getting ready that evening of February 14th-quite frantically I’ll add. My hair curled just for him, my makeup perfected. I slipped into a little red dress, (that I’ll admit is a little too short for my “conditioned to be modest self”). My darling little sister, floated around much like a faithful “big sister” as I like to call her. Helping me with jewelry, cleaning up behind me, and all the while commenting on how beautiful I looked. My parents were busy helping too! Wrapping a jar of chocolate treats. Everything was such a whirl of activity, down to the very last second.
And then he came to the door, offering yellow lilies. He was wearing the vest I had just mended and ironed the day before and a nice silver tie. I never realized before how special receiving flowers can make one feel. I honestly used to think the whole practice of buying flowers was nice of course, but also kind of silly. But oh how I was wrong! It’s so so special! Dad snapped a picture and we were on our way! Micah later told me that he hadn’t bought me roses because he knows that I especially enjoy unique things- and everyone gets roses. Wildflowers are my favorite, so he searched and found the closest thing. Because he put so much thought into it, those lilies were more beautiful to me than a thousand roses!
We shared a surprise dinner of steak, mozzarella sticks, and of course strawberry lemonade (which has kinda become our “thing”). It took me back to the first time we went out to eat together in the early summer, just as the last snow of May melted away. The meal passed so quickly as we talked about past memories and monumental moments, starting at the very beginning.
After dinner we drove to a former elementary school building (built in 1910) to go swing dancing! The tiny gym was crowded, but full of music and laughter, as a live jazz band performed lively tunes. We danced for three hours straight, twirling and dipping at incredible speed! I’m convinced my face has never ached so much from smiling and my heart has never been so filled with happiness. Micah did everything he could possibly think of to make that night so special. And I’d say he succeeded. He proved to me what he had whispered so many times in my ear that night, “This night is all about you”.
That night, sitting on my floral bedspread, I read the longest love letter I had ever received. My green eyes filled with tears of gratitude. In that moment, it seemed to me that I could be this happy forever!
But oh what a difference just a few days can make. How quickly one conversation can paint tormenting pictures in our minds that we’d like to blot out and erase forever, but on our own it’s futile. How can a few hours change the way we see someone we love so much? How can one day turn our best friend into a stranger?
Before I knew it, the ugly past so suddenly and unexpectedly crept in, as it often tries to do, and polluted the joy, blackening my heart with deep pain. In the dark nights that followed, my tears were no longer tears of joy but of indescribable hurt and anger. I hated myself and I hated the world. Yes, the world that Jesus had come to save. Inside I burned with anger towards it’s corruption and immorality. Not because I was perfect, but because this world had been the cause of awful temptation. And the knowledge of that destroyed me, eating me alive from the inside out. I lied to myself. I made myself believe that I had forgiven. But I had not. I had allowed the past of someone I loved so dearly to come back at me again and again. It slapped me in the face with terrifying lies and swallowed me in fear and grief.
The battlefield of my heart and mind began it’s war. I found myself fighting against love, because I never wanted to hurt this badly again. In my mind, I was no longer cherished but worthless. And once again, I found myself reading the longest love letter that’s ever been written to me. But this time, the author was my Savior. The One who created me and placed me in the palm of His hand. The only one who can you give the power to forgive with real forgiveness so that you can love purely once again. We must allow ourselves to believe with all our hearts that He really does make all things new. Through that newness of life and only through a relationship with Him can we find a love that’s stronger than any pain. As we read His love letter to us, those tears can once again become tears of strength and joy, because His truth will always heal our hearts and set us free. I’m still forgiving and still learning to truly love, but He makes everything beautiful as He weaves together the tapestry of my life.
This week I learned and am still learning how true joy can ever only come from the one relationship that never changes or fails. Our happiness can never rest on a day. Because so often those happy days don’t last as long as we had hoped. A hundred Valentines could never replace the joy and never failing love that is found as we delight ourself in Him.
As I’ve grown passed my little girl days, I’ve discovered that the fairytale happiness of this world can slip between our fingers before we know it, and fade away. But His love never fades and when it’s at the center of all the love we find on this earth, we can allow ourselves to dance once again.