Valentine's Day is filled with many little notes, words of affection, messages in gifts. They verbalize the adoration we all want, and I believed them. I treasured all those ideal lines, but I was listening to the wrong message ...
I was listening to the words, not the actions. Words are wonderful, they are powerful and full of meaning when spoken with truth and genuine love. However, they are meaningless when there is no truth and action behind them. When faced with the reality of my struggling marriage, I was forced to confront the disconnect between M's words and his actions. He said all the right things, and I believed him. But his actions didn't match his words. For years I lived in denial, believing his words and excusing his actions. Looking back I understand the disconnect but during that time I was not able to face the truth that his actions demonstrated. It was too shocking, too hurtful. It was easier to project what I wanted to believe onto him.
Now I know better. I know to listen to what people tell me by their actions. I will believe the reality of who people are, not who I want them to be. There is freedom for all this way.
And today I'm celebrating love - especially with my children. I will purchase an enormous heart-shaped pizza and we will dine with candles and strawberry soda. I will make sure they know how precious they are to me and to God. They are my jewels for this fancy day and I will demonstrate it to them with my words and my actions. And I pray they will learn to do the same.
Most of all I know that I am beloved by the greatest Lover of all time, our Lord. He loves me when my actions aren't deserving and don't line up with what I say. Especially meaningful to me is that God's actions are always consistent with His words. There is no doubt of His love and His care. I don't have to rely on my feelings or circumstances to know I am loved.
You are, too! If you don't know Him, His message to you this day is simple, "Be Mine."
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again..."
Notice the action (kindess) follows the words of love, and hope is ever-present (I will build you up again), even when devastation is part of the picture.