Monday, February 14, 2011

♥ Love is in the Air ♥

Today is Valentine's Day.  It's a silly holiday, though I guess at its root, when you get beyond the suffocating commercialism of it all, it can be a very nice holiday.  Usually it makes me quite lonely and a little discontented.  In fact, with the rash of engagements, marriages, and other huge life changes that seem to be happening to everyone but me this past year, I thought it might be worse than normal. But instead, things are quite different.

This year, much to my surprise and joy, I am feeling quite loved.  In fact, despite having spent 22 or 23 of my 24 Valentine's Days single (is it awful that I can't remember that one...eesh!), I feel very loved today.  My mother, an unfailing source of encouragement and love, left me a card, even though she is out of town celebrating 30 years since the day my dad proposed.  (Congrats, Mom and Dad!)  I spent the weekend with a dear friend who is sharing the single life with me, and together, we baked cupcakes that I took into work today, which people seemed to really enjoy.  I stayed late at work and came home only to work on some homework while periodically peeking into the lives of my friends on facebook and reading about their romantic plans for the evening.

I think there are two differences this year from all the other Valentine's Days that I've spent rather miserable.  First, I purposed today to do something for other people.  As silly as making cupcakes might be, I think it really puts things into perspective when you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about the people around you and how you can be a blessing to them.  And second, I've been thinking constantly today about this verse.

Jeremiah 31:3 - "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you."

And you know what?  I like that.  I am loved with a love even more eternal than my mom's, deeper than I could ever know, and more powerful than any I've ever seen.  And more, God's faithfulness continues to sustain me.  It's not a new gift; it's not some grand surprise.  It's a constant, beautiful, completely necessary thing in my life, and God continues to extend that faithfulness and grace to me, despite my sin and sorrow. 

So, on this Valentine's Day, my wish for you, single or taken, is that you feel as loved as I do.  No, scratch loved as you are. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hoot, hoot.

You know that commercial for Tootsie Roll pops with the owl who counts the licks?  He always starts counting, but never makes it past 3 before he chomps down and bites through, proclaiming that three licks is all it takes.  I can't say that I frequently identify with cartoons, but for the last few days, I've definitely been feeling like the Tootsie Roll owl.

How many times in my life have I gone and rushed ahead, even when I start out absolutely determined to take it slow, give it time, and "let" God have His way (as if I have a choice in the matter...)?  Most of my life, really.  I consider myself to be intelligent, hard-working, and driven - all traits that can be great when they're put toward a worthy cause - but those same virtues often come back to bite me when the thing that I desire is fleeting, selfish, and/or just plain wrong?  And who among us, myself chiefly, doesn't have fleeting, selfish, wrong desires? 

I've been thinking about it lately in both a historical context and a present one.  Historically, I have made bad choices and used my gusto, if you will, to chase after them.  I have pushed down walls that were likely there as protection.  I have ignored my better sense (conviction) in favor of what was easier, more "fun", and more immediate.  Specifically, I have been thinking about my hoot owl friend in regard to the present, and how it affects the future.  Sometimes, while the things I can see myself with in the future - a husband, a family, maybe even a ministry, locally or abroad - while these things are good things, and God-given desires, my timing clashes with God's, and they can be a distraction, some even so far as sin in my life.  Not that the desires are sinful, but rather that my focus is lost in the future and I miss the important things happening now.  I forget to be involved with the people around me personally, taking time to care about them and try to be a reflection of Christ in their lives.  I question God's sovereignty, not in an unequivocal, "He must not care" way, but in a "what are you thinking, God?" kind of way.  While I know He is up to facing my scrutiny, I also know that my attitude remains hardly reverent, and certainly not fearful in the way that creates wisdom.  I push, shove, and move mountains, only to find that what was on the other side wasn't what I wanted anyway.

It had me wondering: when will I learn to legitimately, in practice and in word, full trust God?  Or sometimes, I go so far as to wonder if I ever will, or if my potential-gifts will be my downfall.

I guess until God gets me there (since I clearly haven't found the right map yet), I'll have to make my mantra "hoot, hoot."