Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

For the past couple of years, I've written Valentine's Day posts mostly focused on how incredible God's love for us is, and how we can choose to love others regardless of what does or doesn't end up in our mailboxes or vases.  This year, I am engaged to be married to a really special man, and we did send lots of love across the miles to each other - using the internet of course, because apparently our respective postal services missed the memo that Valentine's Day cards and gifts are supposed to arrive on or before February 14th!

Still, God's love ruled.  I've been thinking a lot about the way God sees me, how He feels about me when He looks at me, whether He ever grows weary of my feeble efforts to please Him.  Last week I spoke to a small group of young people at an Ashes Arise get together in Ormstown, and my message centred around the parable of the prodigal son.  There is no denying that Jesus was trying to help the people listening, religious leaders as well as those living their lives without God, that their Father God is madly, extravagantly, passionately in love with them.  When we look at people and situations through eyes of love, we see things differently than we normally would.

This brings me to Brian. Because I have learned over the past year, that in many ways, he sees me differently than I have ever seen myself, or have been seen by others.  My gift to Brian was a series of glamour shots that I took at home. Grace curled my hair, I smeared a bit of make up on and did my best to take some pictures that would show how special he makes me feel.  Pictures are an important part of the long distance relationship experience.  We have sent each other pages and pages (and pages and pages) of emails and messages, but the pictures add something that cannot be expressed in print.  Pictures of our children, our homes, our activities, the weather, ourselves...they help us feel close to each other, and included in each others' lives.

In the beginning, the whole picture thing was a struggle for me. I don't like pictures of myself.  My theory has been that I am one of those people who looks better in motion, that I don't take good pictures.  I have also always had a bit of an ugly duckling complex.  I have never been able to see myself as attractive.

Consequently, my first few "selfies" to Brian had me looking a little "deer-in-headlightish."  I was looking at some of my later pictures once, and said to Grace that I looked like I was tired in all of them, compared to the earlier ones. She informed me that I just looked relaxed in the later ones. that's what relaxed looks like.  As I kept taking the pictures, and seeing Brian's response to them, I have begun to feel more and more comfortable. I've even started enjoying the process.

Hence, the glamour shots for his Valentine's Day present.  For the first time in my life, I had fun taking pictures of myself.  Of course, the years of fundamentalist church teaching is having a bit of an effect, and I feel squirmy inside, actually enjoying taking pictures of myself. I mean, really!  Our faith, though, is about truth, and when I look at these pictures, and listen to Brian maintain that this is the way I look to him all the time, I have to stop and think about what is really true.  Is this what love sees when it looks at me?  If so, why have I been cringing at every glance in the mirror, for all of these years?

These pictures are of a woman who is loved, and cherished, and cared for, a woman who has been made strong through Christ in the face of her abject weakness.  This is what acceptance looks like in me, what peace, joy, love and comfort look like. This is the best that a webcam, a piece of black lace cloth, a huge, red heart pillow and a loved woman can come up with.  This is love.

Most importantly, it is what happens when we allow God to love others through us. Brian's love for me is an extension of God's love, just as mine is, for him.  That makes it true.  And because it is true, it lets us see ourselves as we really are.  It's not all good, because we are not all good. But God's love has an amazing way of maintaining His passion and power and grace in the face of our "not goodness."  And it is that grace, that glorious undeserved love, that births in us a longing to be more, out of love, not fear. Out of His riches, not our poverty. Out of His compassion, not the enemy's scorn.

For me, Valentine's day will always be about God's love.  I am grateful, and thrilled that the man I am about to marry feels the same, and that his Valentine's day morning email contained this line - "My dear Kelly even though we can not be together on this day to celebrate the love we share we can both examine our lives for our love for the LORD and see that HE is the true meaning of celebration of the love we share." 

Now...Canada Post...I need to have a word with you...



Kelly....and Brian,, thank you... thank you... thank you,your faith in God and the gifts you so obviously treasure..(his Love) is an inspiration to me..I am a relatively new christian and a single man with no children who has many times wondered in the course of my life...what is so wrong with me that I don't deserve someone to love me...(ugly duckling syndrome), well thanks to your love story....(which for some reason is the first "blog" I've ever read)the Holy Spirit came unto me just now to tell me ...via your story....that I am worth loving and that he loves me and has chosen me to be single in order to prepare me to be the "right" kinda of man that would deserve and respect and cherish the opportunity to love a woman of his choosing for me and not my own choosing, so that as we are called to do in relationship...exemplify his love for us and the world, which you my friends have done just that for me today, best valentines ever,......THANK YOU< and GOD BLESS!

Kelly said...

Christwalker, what a gift your comment is!!! I just sent Brian a message asking him to come to the blog to read what you wrote, I know that he will be as blessed as I am. You are exactly the reason why I write this stuff down. I truly believe that our stories don't belong merely to us, but to the true Author, and when we share our lives with each other, His Authorship shines through. Even....maybe especially?...when we are weak, so that He can be strong and visible in us. Thank you so much for sharing your part of the story with us. We will both be praying for you, your love for God and spirit of openness and willingness to follow Him is a joy. And please keep us in prayer, that God's will and way will be clear to us, and that we would trust Him and walk joyfully in the path that He is laying down for us. Be blessed, friend, and again, thank you. Kelly

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