I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Even when my husband was alive, it wasn’t my favorite. Valentine’s Day is all about love stories. Meh.
I am reflective today though, thinking back on Valentine’s Days past. My husband was usually pretty great at romantic gestures and putting in extra effort on Valentine’s Day, but I was always more of a fan of the small gestures on regular days.
Save the money spent on the inflated cost of roses on Valentine’s Day and put the kids to bed or empty the dishwasher. That’s the kind of thing that made me swoon more than a box of chocolate covered strawberries (although, YUM!). I always preferred a solo trip to Target or a night not having to make or clean up dinner any day of the year.
My husband was a good husband. Not always in-tune with what I thought he should inherently know or see with his own two eyes, but he tried. He tried very hard. That’s the best kind of husband. One who cares enough to try because I was worth it to him. I miss that.
This Valentine’s Day isn’t as sad as last year. This year I’m remembering all of these things with appreciation that doesn’t break my heart as fiercely as it used to do. It does make me miss him a lot along with the beautiful life we shared together, but there’s more gratitude than grief today.
Last year I cried…a lot. This year I still cry…but less. Last year my heart was BROKEN. This year, my second Valentine’s Day without him, it’s more of a deep contusion with a stress fracture.
I’m thankful for all he was in my life. I’m grateful to be able to recall tender, thoughtful and loving moments he carefully planned to make me feel special and cherished. He always said it was his job to make other women jealous of me. (I know, right?!) I miss that. I miss us.
And on the less romantic but practical side of things, I miss not having to make dinner sometimes. I miss having him here to fix things, help clean things and parent the three things. I miss talking about current events, our TV show commentary and pun wars. I miss the phone call on his way home from work to see if I needed anything from the store. I miss falling into his arms for a hug, resting my head on his chest. I miss holding his hand. I miss the sound of his voice singing along with the radio. I miss every part of him.
I’m not bitter about Valentine’s Day, I’m just meh. I don’t feel in the mood to watch love stories unfold around me. It feels not for me anymore…except today is also Ash Wednesday. Geesh, calendar. Way to complicate an already complicated day.
Because this particular Valentine’s Day also kicks off Lent, I’m thinking about how the life I had has basically burned to the ground. (Ashes on my mind). That life is gone. I’m a widow among the ashes of what used to be…the charred fragments of what WAS. But I’m also remembering that I’m still part of an epic love story. The greatest one of all time, actually.
If Lent had a mascot, I wonder if it would be sorrow? Lent is the time before the joy. It’s the time we symbolically walk with Jesus during the 40 days leading up to the cross. The cross He carried for us, because of us. It’s the time we quiet ourselves to reflect on the sacrifice He made on our behalf. This is the tragedy before the triumph part of the greatest love story EVER! And it’s a special time where we remember how we are held in God’s grace.
“Lent is the funeral before Heaven. It’s a time we mourn and reflect as Jesus got closer and closer to the cross.” – Rev. James Mueller
“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Ecclesiastes 3:20 (NIV)
“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:19 (NIV)
Today begins the season where we (hopefully) quiet down enough to reflect and acknowledge our sins – it’s a time that often brings regret and remorse. But it’s also a time to remember the dramatic rescue from the shackles of those sins!
Lent is a season for all of us, but I’d say it’s extra especially relevant to us, my fellow griever. This whole you started as dust and you’ll end up as dust is a reminder of how temporary this life is. I mean, you and I…we sooo get that, right?
Lent is the intense lead up to the story’s climax. It’s the time where we pause to understand how this life is merely the appetizer. It’s the part before the answer to the suffering we feel and the preface to the cure for the sting of loss.
The sorrow of death, the broken hearts we lug around – it’s only the first act in this resurrection story! It’s the pain before the (literal) rising!
Christ claimed victory over what has broken our hearts. He took all of our brokenness…brokenness from sin, brokenness from sorrow and loss, and HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW!
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5 (NIV)
He takes this mournful mess we are and turns it into something miraculous. It’s why we have more than hope. We have assurance. “Trustworthy and true.”
This promise turns my “Meh” into a kind of mind-blowing gratitude and anticipation I can barely tolerate. I will be with my husband again. He did that for me. He did that for you, too!
As you feel all of the Valentine’s Day feels today, I hope you’ll remember and believe in these promises with me. This love story has the power to combine the sad tears you may cry today with joyful ones too, because death has been conquered. Suffering has been slain. Sorrow – obliterated.
Extra gratitude for God’s grace,
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