As I sit here in a dim living room on a cold winter night with one of my favorite Pandora stations playing, I realize we’re just hours away from the most romantic holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day. As I think about this holiday, I notice that some people consider it the perfect occasion to show the ones they love just how much they are loved, while others shrug their shoulders in bitterness and call it “just another Hallmark holiday.”
My original idea for this post was to write an encouraging blog for young women who don’t have a valentine, but honestly, what single girl wants to hear, “it’s okay, maybe you’ll have a valentine next year”? Nope. I certainly don’t. So let me tell you this: you DO have a valentine.
While some of you reading this might think the phrase “Jesus is my valentine” to be tacky, that’s basically what I’m about to tell you, in less child-like terms. So get ready.
I’ll start by pointing out the (to some, not-so) obvious. We should consider Christ to be our first love (guys reading this, this is for you, too) because he gave EVERYTHING so that we could be saved. He rescued us from eternal destruction by dying on the cross. He loved us in a way that no one else could ever even attempt. Ever. While I believe in true love on this earth, I also know that we are to love GOD above everything and everyone else. And he’s the one who holds the characteristics that we should look for in earthly love anyway! Characteristics such as trust and faithfulness (Psalm 40).
One thing I have noticed in observing others, and even in my own life, is that when couples begin to date for long periods of time, they tend to find their identity in the person they are with–the person who loves them. But if we call ourselves Christians, our identity is in Christ alone and how he loves us. (Have I already mentioned that he loves us?) When we put our trust in the One who loves us more than any person ever could, we can be completely secure! Before love–and before Christ–we were just wretched sinners. Because of Christ we are saved and perfectly loved. Check out these examples of how Christ’s love has transformed me and helped me to find my identity (in HIM) in the process. I hope you will read these before and after’s and begin to see how he has worked in your life, too!
I once was bound, but now I am free.
Before realizing how much my God cares for me, I felt that I had to be a certain way. To look a certain way. Then maybe I would feel a certain way, maybe I would feel happy or pretty or lovable. Just because Hollywood sets an example for how women, and even men sometimes, are supposed to look and act doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. It’s a pretty common insecurity for girls, but many hold onto it for their whole lives and they don’t have to.
Maybe you’re bound by insecurities or maybe you feel bound to a relationship in your life that you shouldn’t be in. Maybe you are even bound by addiction. It doesn’t matter what it is. God is bigger than that thing. Remember in 2 Samuel 11 how David had an affair with Bathsheba and even killed her husband? Later on, the scriptures describe him as “a man after God’s own heart”! He was transformed. He was bound by his sin, but he found freedom in Christ.
I once was worried, but now I have peace.
There have been many times in my life where I have felt the need to plan and control everything I do, especially when it comes to the future. Not knowing where I’ll be working next year or even next week is a scary thought, but trusting God with my post-graduation job hunt has been the biggest burden reliever! I am still actively looking for a job, but I am no longer worrying about how I’ll pay my next bill. He is faithful and he will provide. (Luke 12:22-24 is an example I mentioned in a previous blog, and one worth revisiting.)
I once felt lost, but now I know who I am.
This is the most important before and after of all. Before Christ, I was lost. A sinner headed for an eternity in hell. But now I am a sinner saved by grace! Who I AM is a follower of Christ. Nouns such as “daughter,” “sister,” “friend,” “aunt,” “writer,” and “leader” are just things I DO. They do not define me. I have been found in Christ and HE alone defines me. (John 1:12 tells us we are children of God and Isaiah 43:1 also tells us that we belong to him and he has called us by name!) Everything else is just the icing on the cake and roles I am blessed to be given.
As you think about the ways Christ has transformed you and as you put together your own before and after’s, I hope you realize how much you are truly loved by your creator. It’s better than any Valentine’s Day gift, even a box of chocolates.
I was caged in, then You opened
Every door that held me bound and You gave me the key
No more pressure I can just breathe
The girl I tried so hard to be, has always been me
My strength alone will never be enough
But Your arms keep lifting me up
You tell me I’ve been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams
You whisper words that free my soul
You’re the reason I have hope
You’re everything I need and more
(Free – Dara MacLean)
By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.