Updated: Feb 15
What’s your favourite way to celebrate Valentine‘s Day? Traditionally, Gary and I go to the Toronto Car Show together. Neither of us are motor-heads, by any stretch of the imagination, but Gary does enjoy dreaming about cars, especially Corvettes, and I enjoy watching him dream. I know it’s an unusual way to spend Valentines, but where is it written that women have cornered the market on Valentine’s Day. Its a day to celebrate together. I do appreciate, however, that we traditionally finish the excursion with a nice dinner together. After meandering around cars for hours, a relaxing dinner makes me, my stomach, and my feet, very happy. Sadly, this will be the second missed Car Show due to Covid restrictions. I so look forward to 2023.
For many, though, Valentine’s is a very different experience. It brings with it heart ache and pain. This will be my mom’s second Valentine’s Day without my dad. For her, I’m sure Valentines is a crushing reminder of what she’s lost. I’ll have to remember to bring her flowers. For others, the heart ache may result from a separation or divorce after a disappointing or hurtful experience with love. Yet others, from never having found love at all. Though, I imagine there are also those who appear to be happy in the perpetual pursuit of illusive love.
Broken hearts are inevitable as long as there are hearts to break, and it’s not just because of the unrequited love of Valentine’s Day, but for the many injustices of this world. Years ago, I heard a song, a prayer of sorts, asking Jesus to break our hearts for what breaks his. I remember standing in church, looking up, and earnestly praying for this to be true in my life. You know what they say, be careful for what you wish (and pray) for.
Now, I know that my heart isn’t really broken as much as God’s - my piddly little human heart couldn’t take it - but I do have so much more compassion now than I did before. I see so much more now, and it‘s really so hard to take it all in. My heart began breaking in Kenya, where I saw the women cooking for 200 school children with muddy, brown water. I felt the broken heart of Jesus nudging me to do something about it. A few year later, and with a lot of help, they had a deep water well that provided fresh, clear drinking water. I felt Jesus’ broken heart at a homeless shelter, and made friendships with people I’d never have thought to have said hello to. You see, relationships grow when you see people, listen to them, and walk with them. This is true in any personal relationship, romantic or otherwise.
When you allow your heart to break, it’s hard not to take action. But you can’t do it all, and that’s when you need to rely on the Good Lord’s wisdom to direct you, or you’d be quickly overwhelmed. I’ve been heart-broken about human trafficking, even here in Canada, about the lost boys of Sudan, about the missing and murdered indigenous girls, about the Residential Schools, about homelessness and food insecurities. I’ve struggled with how to help refugees, and those who have suffered from abuse. When you open your eyes to struggles of the people around you, it can weigh heavily on your heart. And then comes grace.
Jesus looked down and saw the brokenness of the world. His heart broke. The love of Jesus is so deep that he left his rightful place at the side of the Father and came down to earth to walk among us. He saw people - eye to eye. When he listened to people, they knew that they were heard. He touched them, and they were healed. What a beautifully perfect example of love. But it didn’t stop there. He willingly went to the cross to pay for our broken sinfulness and rose again so that we could be redeemed. He left behind a helper, the Holy Spirit, to live in us, and fill us with love overflowing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
How can we take this most perfect example of love and internalize it in our own lives? We ask Jesus to come into our life and take over our heart, to allow our heart to break when his does, to give us his Spirit to speak life into the lives of the people around us, to let him live in me and love through me, to give me the courage to act as he would act.
We need to love this way. First with Jesus. Then, like Jesus did with his disciples, in our inner circle - our family and friends. Once that love has taken hold, we can go into the greater world around us and spread his love.
Let the wildfire of love and compassion grow within you and spread all around.
Happy Valentine’s Day.