Wal-Mart is bursting with pink and red and bins full of gigantic heart-toting teddy bears...
Valentine's Day is coming.
I loved Valentine's Day when I was a little one. I loved to give and see the pleasure my giving gave in the eyes of those I loved most. But then I got a little older. A boy gave me a big envelope FULL of every kind of Toy Story valentine he owned. I didn't know how to handle his BOLD gesture... we're talking SIX valentines from ONE boy.
That's the grade school equivalent of a marriage proposal, folks.
I handled it the best way I knew how... I HID the stuffed envelope and lied when he asked me if I'd received his valentine that year.
"Nope, never saw it."
"Really?"... the poor kid spent a good 30 minutes searching our 6th grade classroom for it while my cheeks flamed red with shame over my untruth.
High school raised Valentine awkwardness to an all-time high. High school sort of has a way of raising EVERYTHING awkward to an all-time high. But anyway...
By the time I made it to college, I was indifferent toward everything Valentine's... except for the cheap bags of conversation hearts. Gosh, they're so good.
Once I met/married my husband, I had a total eclipse of the heart. I was in LOVE with LOVE. I made a shirt with puffy paint and wore it all over campus for my first Valentine's Day with my husband...
"This item belongs to: [insert husband's name here].
If found, please return to: his arms."
He waited outside marching band practice with a dozen red roses and made all the other piccolo players jealous.
It was Valentine's Day when his addiction first hit our marriage. I'll never forget it. It's another one of those ratty anniversaries that I try to forget but can't, no matter how much I want to. After that, I became devoted to the study of what-I-thought-was love. I read books on marriage and love and how to be a marital success.
I put into practice methods that I knew -I KNEW -would bring us closer, improve us! I studied up on sex. I scoured the Internet for dating ideas for married people.
We would be the BEST EVER at being MARRIED and IN LOVE and porn, no matter how strong it was, would never break us.
But porn DID break us.
It broke us physically apart. I didn't want him to touch me. I didn't want him near me.
Two months after his biggest disclosure and my rock bottom, I walked into Wal-Mart and I saw pink and red and teddy bears and I sneered a great sneer.
I'd invested so much into Valentine's Day's version of love, and I was through -absolutely spitting-mad THROUGH. My investments had given me a corral full of crap in return, and every good cowgirl knows when investments go bad, you check out.
I was able to find recovery in small steps, and recovery DID help me check out -not from my marriage, but from his addiction. I appreciated that, but I still didn't bother with love. I liked my husband well enough, but I wasn't about to Valentine's Day LOVE him.
And it was okay. I knew it was okay because when I prayed about it, I felt love. I felt my Father in Heaven telling me my feelings were okay, I was a good person, and He loved me very much.
There. THERE was Someone a cowgirl could trust and put her faith in.
I went to Him in prayer more than I ever had before, and He led me and guided me through my emotions... and something unfurled... something very unexpected unfurled.
It was love.
It started in low, and it started to grow.
(can't resist throwing in Dr. Seuss whenever possible.)
It wasn't the love I knew before... it was different. There was a sort of purity to it, and it was limitless. I felt it toward my children, my mother, my father, my Bishop, my friends, the woman in line in front of me at Sam's Club, the crying baby at the end of the church hallway...
and yes. I felt this unadulterated love for my husband.
It's Christ-like love.
I feel as if I've only tipped the infinite iceberg of Christ's love. It's the most beautiful unseen element on earth.
It's the point.
It's why we're here -to prove our ability to love.
It is the greatest commandment, yea the SUBJECT of the first four commandments.
And it is February.
I find myself a little more like the child I used to be -the one who understood Christ-like love better than I ever hope to again in this life.
I'm so looking forward to giving valentines to my parents, my grandparents, my kids, friends, neighbors... and my husband.
There is only one kind of love.
There are not different versions.
This is what He wants me to learn.
This is what He wants me to put into practice.
Love is what He feels for me.