The daffodils were bright, happy patches of yellow in the otherwise dark store, and they took my breath away as an employee gathered a bunch together to arrange.
They made me smile at first, but that soon gave way to a heavy ache as I forced myself to look away.
They’re just flowers, I sternly reprimanded myself. Perfect flowers, the rebellious side of me whispered back.
Ask any single girl around Valentine’s Day, and I’m betting most will tell you they do their best to ignore any and all flowers. Because most girls like flowers. And even more, we like relationships and having someone to spend the day with. After one too many Valentine’s and no flowers… it can get start to get a tad depressing. And if you’ve never had any flowers on Valentine’s Day except from your mom… um, yeah, that would be me.
But God has taught me so much about what true love looks like in the years I’ve been single, and while it can definitely be discouraging, the number one thing I’ve learned is this: love is so much more than we ever give it credit for.
“Love” in our culture has been re-defined and restricted in a way I don’t think God ever intended, often reduced to being contained to two people or within a single family; so much so that if you’re a single adult out in today’s world…well, then. Love just isn’t for you, and we all know the shame and stigma that comes along with the title “single,” and I can promise you the effects are felt whether we admit to it or not.
It’s still very much one of my deepest desires to have husband, home, and family, and please don’t hear me say there’s anything wrong with wanting those things or that it somehow makes you “less holy” if you do. It’s a beautiful thing, a sacred thing, and you can serve God just as easily within marriage as you can without. And trust me–I’ve read my fair share of articles/blog posts that sound like a whole bunch of embittered single women turning their noses up at marriage pretending as if they don’t care, and I’m not here to be one of those women.
But, oh, church, hear me– love is so much more than a word for Valentine’s Day. So much more than a sign for the family room or a word spoken at a wedding. Love was always meant to be shared, to be extended and multiplied, given freely and frequently.
I can thankfully say at this point in my life that God has blessed me by teaching me to expand my own definition, to consider myself blessed not because I have any “one” child, but to consider myself blessed because I have many.
While I know I still have a lot of misconceptions to break through about my idealized view of romance just as God broke through my idealized version of what motherhood would be like my first day babysitting (which took about .5 seconds after the parents left and I did a head count and came up one short), I feel pretty fortunate to have a preview of what real love looks like, too, and I can pretty much tell ya it isn’t all sunshine and roses.
But I can tell you this:
Real love is loyal. It’s faithful and true. It’s hard working, generous, and kind. It’s patient and merciful. It’s humble and right. It’s strong and it’s pure, and oh, man, is it hard.
It’s sitting on the floor of somebody’s living room just to be with them in their grief.
It’s staying when you’d rather leave.
It’s getting on your hands and knees to scrub a floor from a mess you didn’t make.
It’s holding someone’s hand in the hospital just to help them sleep.
It’s the mundane of folding laundry and washing dishes. It’s choosing to look over someone else’s wrong and clothing them with grace as Jesus does instead.
It’s singing lullabies over a sick child, ladling out soup to the homeless, or standing next to a father at the grave site to let him know he doesn’t stand alone.
God has planted within each of us such a great capacity to love. He is our Creator, after all, and the Creator Himself is love.
But love also has an enemy, and we are a generation that’s love-starved. We strive after “The One”, and all along we miss The Many. We chase after the ring, and run right past a relationship with Him. And oh, dearest, how we miss it! How we miss the sweetest, most important of loves, for His mercies are new every morning! (Lam. 3:22-24.)
The truth is that I used to think I wasn’t loved, and I thought I wasn’t loved because I didn’t have what the world defined as love.
A first kiss, flowers on Valentine’s Day, an engagement ring, or so many other things. And I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you it’s left some wounds, and I’ve believed the shame. Pitched a tent and put my feet up right in the center of it, in fact.
But I’m so happy to tell you I was wrong.
I am loved by The Most High. So loved that He died on a cross for me! I have more love in my life than I could ever know what to do with, and that’s because His love is a bottomless well. An endless desert for me to explore, an ocean for me to sink into, and as sure and as permanent as the sun is in the sky. Something I can extend to others and partake of for myself not just one day out of the year, but 365.
The same as it is for you.
And how could I forget the family and friends surrounding me? The many families over ten years who have given me the honor of letting me into their homes to rock their babies to sleep or teach their preschoolers their ABC’s or get even the most determined of my charges to laugh. The precious people I was completely blind to because I was so focused on the one thing I didn’t have instead of all that I did.
So if you’re there today, dear heart, if the sight of roses make you cry or you had to spend one more Valentine’s Day with another broken heart in your hands, may you know that love is already yours. That there is now no shame, because that shame was taken away in Jesus’ name. His was the first love, the only love, and the kind of love that not only meets us where we’re at, but runs straight for us to embrace us as we are.
May we follow after Him and never forget: Life is too short to only love one person.
And you know those daffodils I was talking about earlier? I found them one winter not too long ago shooting straight up through the snow in front of my car. And we’ve never even planted daffodils.
So look for your daffodils today, daughter of The Most High. Because you, you are precious to Him, and my guess?
My guess is they’ve been right there waiting for you to discover all along.