A love letter for anyone who needs it.

love letter; valentine's day; alternative valentine's day; living in the tension; love;

You probably know by now that navigating this life is not a cut and dried affair. Gone are the black and white, naïve, idyllic days of youth (a.k.a., when we knew it all) instead, they have been replaced with nuance and shades of grey.

The truth is, most of us live our lives straddling a series of opposites: balancing the tension of here and there, this and that. We appreciate the complexity of emotion and feelings, while allowing our heads to make wise decisions. We can hold sorrow and joy simultaneously. It’s possible to be both broken and healed.

As the world fixates on Valentine’s Day this week, I feel this tension; my heart both aches and is full.

Because, even though life may look good on the surface, for many of us this invented holiday shines a glaring spotlight on the darker places that exist in us; struggles that live alongside the blessings. It’s not an either/or, one or the other. The good and the bad live side by side. And yet, we are compelled to keep those darker, tender places hidden.

In her book, Loving Well in a Broken World, author Lauren Casper writes, “Denying [or hiding] emotion creates distance. Embracing our feelings, our pain can be an important piece of cultivating empathy and connecting with each other.”

After all, when Jesus came upon the sick and broken, he didn’t give them a cheery pat on the back and throw platitudes or a bible verse their way. Scripture says, when he came face to face with two sisters mourning the death of their brother, his friend, Jesus wept.  (John 11:35)

God is not unaware of our suffering. We can sit in the tension of the good and the bad and know that he’s got it in hand. No matter what your circumstances look like, you can know that you are loved lavishly and unconditionally every single day of your life. Not just on Valentine’s Day.

As I was thinking about the people it my life this week—so many of you facing hard and unthinkable things—it occurred to me that today, this week, of all weeks—you just might need a love letter of your own.

To the one who is broken-hearted. You thought life would look different than it does. I see your heart that’s been broken and patched over with tentative hope; daring to believe there’s more out there for you but afraid to put your heart in the crossfire again.

I see you and you are loved.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

~Psalm 34:18 

To the one who is lonely. You dreamed of twilight years with your love only to find life had other plans for you, I see you longing for a life other than the one you have. I see the emptiness you would love nothing more than to fill with laughter and companionship.

I see you and you are loved.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

~Deuteronomy 31:8

To the one facing a nest that is empty and quiet. I see you missing the days you had and regretting that you wished them away; that you didn’t fully appreciate what you had in the midst of the chaos and the noise. It goes so quickly—you blink and they’re grown. I see the way you gaze into the emptiness, looking for purpose and fulfilment. Wondering what’s next.

I see you and you are loved.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
  until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
    I will carry you along and save you.”

~Isaiah 46:4

To the one who is ill. To the one still reeling from the diagnosis, and the one who has settled in to a new normal. To the one defiantly giving Stage 4 the finger and the one who is quietly positioning herself to effect change.

I see you carrying the burdens of those around you, while putting your own aside. Making things ok for your children, not wanting to be a burden yourself. I see you in the dark, tears streaming down your cheeks, and I see you wiping them away in the light of day. Covering their tracks with a brave smile that defies the fear knocking at the door of your heart.

I see you and you are loved.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

~Isaiah 40:31

To the one who suffers.  You, with chronic illness and pain that won’t go away. I see you pushing down the discomfort, masking the pain for your family. Attending sports and school events and then retreating under the covers. They don’t really know what it costs you to be there for them, but your love for them dictates that you’re willing to pay the price.

I see you and you are loved.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

~Matthew 11:28-30

To the one who is overwhelmed. I see you putting in the hours at work and then doing it all over again when you get home. Life isn’t nine to five and there are people and a list as long as your arm waiting expectantly for you when you get home. You’re juggling all the balls and doing all the things and you just want to step off the treadmill for a bit.

I see you and you are loved.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

~ Lamentations 3:22-23

To the one who thinks you don’t belong. You sit on the outside looking in, but lack the confidence to join. I see you comparing yourself to others and falling short in your own mind. You hesitate to approach, to make friends; you’re sure no one will want to spend time with you. But you’re wrong. You’re beautiful. And you belong.

I see you and you are loved.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.”

John 10:27-28

To the one who is afraid. You’re not sure you can make the paycheque last for two weeks. I see you stretching to make ends meet, but fearful that you’re one emergency away from not being able to put food on the table. There are a million scenarios racing through your mind, every single one of them worst case. And you’re just not sure you’re going to be able to hold everything together for everyone who is counting on you.

I see you and you are loved.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

~Philippians 4:6-7

I know I haven’t even scratched the surface here. I know that my simple words will never be enough to dull the ache in your soul, can never fill a hole that can only be filled by the One who made you.

But if, this Valentine’s Day, you simply know that you are loved—even if no one buys you flowers, or chocolates, or tells you to your face—maybe for a day that will be enough?

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I confess, I always have good intentions of writing something for it, but usually end up abandoning my efforts as they spiral down into bitter and cynical. To be clear, it’s not LOVE that I have the problem with, it’s just the WHOLE DAY of overpriced flowers and chocolates and restaurant reservations…. (but I digress).

Last year, while in the middle of what was undoubtedly one the of the most un-romantic seasons of our marriage, I did manage to pen a musing about “Realistic Romance.” If you want, you can read that post here.

That post included a link to a missive written by author Ann Voskamp several years ago. Her post no longer lives on her website, but I found it online and I’ve added the link here. Honestly, I think this should be required reading for any couple considering tying the knot.

Until next week, I want to remind you that no matter where and with whom you spend February 14th, you are seen and you are loved.

 “The only eyes in the universe that can see you to the bottom, love you to the skies.” ~Author, Tim Keller

Ever grateful for grace,

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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