Reminisce with me about those grade school Valentine’s Days of yesteryear. Remember transforming a shoebox into a glittering, doily-covered card holder? Mom would take me to the store where I’d agonize over which corny card to buy for my classmates. Were Disney princesses in then? Or should I go with the edgier Josie and the Pussycats card: “Josie and I think you’re PURRRRFECT!” You can imagine the writer’s cramp I got signing each one, “Your friend, Mary Suzanne Niedringhaus.” The party was the sugar high of the year, with our tongues the color of Red Dye #2 and Hawaiian Punch.
The biggest thrill was taking home the bulging box of cards and carefully reading the ones from the boys I had crushes on to see if there were any covert professions of love. Was Bobby trying to tell me something with his card, “Tony the Tiger and I think you’re GRRREAT!”? Was Charlie sending a secret message with his candy heart “Crazy 4U”?
Looking back, I can see then what I now know so well about myself – that I have an insatiable desire to be loved and noticed and cherished. Like everyone else (and every romantic comedy promises), I thought this soul hunger could be satisfied by another person – specifically Prince Charming, a.k.a., my husband. One day, I would get married and EVERYday would be Valentine’s Day.
And then I got married …
Let me say, loud and clear, that I am blessed to be married to an incredible man. Each year I discover new facets of him to love and admire. Our life together has been an amazing adventure. But the non-stop torrent of soul-quenching love I was expecting from him – and at times still demand from him – was not to be found in a mere mortal. This soul hunger, which my friends and I later called, The Cry of the Hidden Heart, can only be satisfied by the perfect love of Jesus Christ.
Years ago, my older, wiser mentors taught me how to draw near to God through prayer and reading the Bible. James 4:8a promises, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Some days I draw near to Him out of desperation or loneliness. Sometimes it’s out of habit. Mostly, it’s because it’s the sweetest, richest highlight of my day. I read the Bible like I once scrutinized those old Valentine cards, looking for God’s loving message to me.
Here’s what I believe God would say to us if it could be inscribed on a candy heart: “BE MINE.”
Jesus wants to be our first love – the One we turn to first for comfort, for strength, for peace. He is jealous for us in the best sense of the word. And through the gift of His Holy Spirit, He wants us to be so filled with His unconditional love that it overflows into all the lives we touch – especially our husbands.
This Valentine season, regardless of your relationship status, run to the everlasting arms of the Great Lover of Your Soul. Read His love letters that proclaim you are beautiful and worth dying for. Let Him serenade you and believe His promise to never leave you. Tuck in your heart these Valentines and revel in the truth that you are His precious beloved:
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7