I stood at my bathroom sink this morning, thinking about loving, and cried.
Tired motherhood eyes staring back at me in the mirror. Instead of choking it down, I buried my face into my warm washcloth and let the tears flow.
Maybe I’m exhausted.
Maybe it’s the combination of obstacles I’m facing right now.
Maybe it’s just one of those days.
Maybe it’s all of the above.
I wearily stumbled to the big chair with my bible and journal and curled up with my favorite Turkish cotton blanket from last year’s trip to Istanbul. Opened my journal and wrote the date.
Oh that’s right…. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The day when commercial marketing dictates that every loving breathing human should feel obligated to celebrate. Okay, fine… that’s admittedly a bit cynical, even if I’m anti-materialist.
My mind wanders back over the years to previous Februaries — and the feelings of joy, or anticipation, or love, or loss that have accompanied each. I sit in those thoughts for a while pondering what was, and what was not, and what might have been.
It’s a good thing to do sometimes, not least because doing so can remind you of how God has led through the past.
How He has changed you.
How He has grown you.
How He has patiently kept teaching to trust beyond heartbreak and into healing.
More than once.
Many times over.
Every human has reasons not to love, not to trust.
Reasons of our own which make us reluctant to open.
Reticent to disclose.
Hesitant to be vulnerable.
We’ve all been broken in some way, cracked, shattered, even tortured. And in response, we self-protect. We close ourselves off. We avoid the hard conversations. We run away. We hide.
We are afraid to be known.
We fear the abandonment that follows the knowing.
We quake in terror of the idea of being fully known without also being fully loved.
And yet, at the same time, there is nothing we want more deeply and viscerally than to be fully known — and not abandoned. Not left.
To be truly known.
And fully loved.
What we forget, is that there is only One who is fully capable of this feat. There is only One who can know it all and still love without limit. The rest of us are simply growing into His likeness, at some pace or another. Developing more of His knowing, delivering more of His unmitigated, unqualified, unlimited Loving.
But just like growing in trust is a process, so is learning to Love. Because true loving isn’t just hugs and compliments and thoughtful gifts — although it is also all those things.
True Love, the experience of fully loving, is a selfless and sacrificial choice.
It’s something we do despite how we feel.
Loving well is a commitment we make and choose to follow up on, day after day — no matter how painful the cost, no matter how hard we fall, no matter the anguish it may bring.
There’s only One perfect example of that kind of Loving.
There is only one Lover who never leaves. Only One who is perfectly reliable and dependable and safe. And He already adores you.
The rest of us are merely aiming for, and often falling short of, some paltry imitation of His loving.
So this Valentine’s Day…
whether you are celebrating or celibate,
whether you are ecstatic or distraught,
whether you are snuggling with the love of your life or curled up alone,
whether you are bounding out of bed or crying into your tea…
You are already fully known.
You are already fully Loved.
And the Source of that Knowing, that Loving?
He already knows everything about you, and despite knowing it all…
He is the One Lover who will never leave.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.
We love him, because he loved us first.”
1 John 5:18-19 NLT