The day when we honor love is drawing near. Men and women everywhere will run around searching for those just-right tokens of appreciation to give their loved ones this Sunday. Some will have somehow forgotten the special day and will find themselves stopping at one of those corner flower stands created with the Valentine "Forgetter" in mind. After all, giving a gift shows we love that special person, doesn't it?
Before I answer that question, I want to share about a young woman I know who loves her boyfriend. True story with the names changed, of course, as this tale isn't your typical love story, well, actually, it's far too typical these days. It's a story that I remember well from my own distant past.
We'll call this precious princess, Sally. Since I personally don't know any Sally's, except my daughter's friend's horse, Sallie, we should be okay honoring the privacy of "Sally."
This particular Sally is a single mother who has had to fight hard in order to break free from a number of torturous enemies. Primarily drugs and dysfunctional men. She has worked diligently to change her life -- for the better. Unfortunately, she has never been able to fully grasp her identity as a Princess Warrior who belongs to the ultimate King of the Universe. She's always felt unloved and lives in regret of her past despite the many people encouraging her and cheering her own. Sally has remained hungry for love.
A few months ago, she met a charismatic and handsome guy. He made her feel good. He made her laugh. He brought excitement into her life. All was good -- for a while.
Then the horror began. Suddenly, Sally became a captive to a twisted and dangerous form of false love. This new man-of-her-dreams took control of her life. He wouldn't allow her to answer her own phone or leave the house without him. He threatened and berated her. He became violent, even vengeful, and she was terrified. Things finally got so bad that she was scared for her life. This man told her the reason that he did these things to her was because: He loved her.
Some of you might be wondering why she didn't just get the you-know-what out of dodge. Or why she stayed. Why she continued to endanger herself and her son. Though, I also believe many of you can relate on a very personal level to Sally's misguided "love" relationship. We all know someone, if not ourselves, who has experienced a destructive form of love on some level. Maybe we haven't endured what Sally is enduring, but we understand. We need only turn on an evening drama or daily soap opera to see this type of relationship showcased to some degree. We are being programmed to think this type of insanity is a passionate and intense relationship. Some believe that fighting, at the very least, can liven things up. In actuality, it's destroying us.
My heart breaks knowing that many precious sisters will spend Valentines Day held captive by not only false forms of love, but also by relationships that have turned dangerous, even deadly.
I was so happy a few weeks ago, when Sally came to tell me how she had escaped the relationship, yet I could sense that she had lost almost all hope and that her idea of love had become skewed and distorted. She knew in her head that she didn't deserve such abuse, but by the things she said, I just knew she'd be returning to the hell in her home.
In my job, I see situations like this daily. I watch families torn to shreds by violence, addiction, and lies. I see wounded women accepting despicable treatment in the name of love. I was once one of those women. Thankfully, my story is one of victory not tragedy. I want all the "Sally's" to find healing and hope in Christ. Don't you?
Ladies, those of you who will celebrate this special holiday with a wonderful husband, fiance, or boyfriend -- rejoice. Remember to thank God for your relationship. For love is an incredible gift. And while your rejoicing, please remember those wounded women who are literally dying for love. Don't judge. Love.
We live in a world that perverts the meaning of love. Completely understanding the kind of love that God has for us, is truly beyond our comprehension. We get glimpses of it. We taste the sweetness of it. And someday, when we finally stand face-to-face with the Ultimate Lover of our Souls, only then we will fully embrace the grace, love, and mercy that we've been shown through Jesus Christ.
I know this might seem like a depressing topic for this holiday, but I believe God wants to remind His Princess Warriors that as women, created for loving relationships, too often we accept substitutes when it comes to love. Even when we are blessed with a fantastic, godly relationship, overflowing with God's love, we cannot expect that one person or relationship to fully satisfy our soul. There is only One who can ever quench our thirst for love -- God Himself.
In honor of the Maker of Love -- Make sure to spend some time in His presence this weekend. Give God the gift of your time, treasure, and talents. Worship Him and adore Him. After all, He is the Giver of the wonderful relationships you have. Maybe even design your own special Valentine's card for Him. Write a poem. Sing Him a song. It's not silly; it's simply a tangible way to show God how much you love and appreciate Him.
If you're in doubt about what real love "looks like," you'll want to reacquaint yourself with the following scripture:
From the New Living Translation:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor. 13:4-7
Do you remember that question I asked at the beginning of this post? Does giving a gift show we love that special person? Yes and no. Yes, certainly, a gift is a token or reminder of love. But even the most heartless abuser my give a gift, so indeed we could also answer no. So ...
to be sure you are demonstrating love, refer to the above scripture verses and act accordingly. Then you will be loving the way God tells us to love. After all, the greatest gift of love given us wasn't a bouquet of flowers to display, or a box of candies to snack on -- God's gift was a life -- His own Son's. Jesus died. He rose. And, we, because of this amazing gift, get the most amazing gift of love imaginable -- an everlasting life in the presence of God All Mighty.
Now, ladies, that's what I call love.
Please, take a moment and join me in praying for anyone suffering this Valentine's Day in the name of love:
So many women, men too, are experiencing horrible, even life-threatening treatment in the name of love. We don't know exactly why they're in this situation, but, You do. And regardless of the circumstances, You care. You love. Your desire is that we all experience real love that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
You know and understand that letting go of a person or relationship can be heart wrenching, despite any abuse or poor treatment. We can become trapped, entrapped. Our lives can become endangered. You want to set us free in every way to experience Your love, Your hope, and Your future for us.
If someone reading this prayer is currently in an abusive relationship, please show that person Your love. Provide her with an escape plan. Place people in her life that can help. Guide her to the right resources and protect her and her children in the process. You have a plan and purpose for everyone reading these words. Please, give us all a glimpse of that purpose and plan.
Others may have no experience or understanding of the abuse process. Please give those sisters the desire to pray as the warriors they are for their wounded sisters. Give us all hearts of mercy, words of encouragement and hope, and the strength to pray often for the precious princesses still held captive.
This Valentine's Day we celebrate the Author of real love -- You! You, Lord, are the Lover of our Souls. We thank you for Your undying, never-changing love. Please help us show love to those you place on our paths today and everyday. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.