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The biggest valentine

The Life Less Traveled

February 04, 2015
When my daughter had her first Valentine's Day party at school, they had a rule that said you had to bring cards for every kid in the class. It ensured that no one went home empty handed or felt left out.

I don't remember such a rule when I was a kid. During my childhood, Valentine's Day was a social report card that showed you how many people actually liked you. Even if you did give valentines to the entire class, there were subtle tricks you could pull to communicate more value to your closest friends.

The first thing you could do was reserve the primo valentines in the pack just for your best pals or potential sweethearts. For example, if I gave out Star Wars valentines that year, and you got a Luke or Vader, you were in my inner circle. However, if I gave you a random creature from the Mos Eisley cantina, that was just a courtesy card. And Princess Leia? Well, that meant you were one lucky girl.

The other thing you could do to upgrade your valentines was to tape a sucker to the card or give a bigger card to certain people. In some cultures, that's actually considered a proposal of marriage.

But Valentine's Day wasn't just a day to give cards. It was also a day to receive. I remember our whole class working hard coloring hearts on brown, paper bags to serve as mailboxes. Once the mailboxes were done, we would leave them on our desk and mill about the room delivering our cards.

When you returned to your mailbox, it was time to face the truth. How did you do? How many valentines did you get, and how high on the social pecking order did they register? Did any of your special valentine friends reciprocate with awesome cards, or did they leave you hanging with an awkward snub?

It's funny to remember how big of a deal this was as a kid, but for some of us, this quest for love never ends. Many of us, even as adults, waste too much time craving the affirmation of others. It's like we're still carrying around that brown, paper bag waiting for the people around us to fill it with words or gestures of love.

When someone's mad at you, it ruins your day. If you see your friends having fun on Facebook without you, you feel rejected. If you did something great for your spouse, but they failed to make a big deal out of it, you think they don't appreciate you.

But here's the secret about that brown, paper mailbox. It has a big, fat hole in the bottom. No matter how happy you make people, no many how times they fill up your mailbox, it will never, ever be enough. It never lasts.

The good news, though, is that there is a different kind of love, a sufficient, abundant overflowing love that speaks value into you that no one can take away. It is the love of God. And it says you are cherished. You are beloved. You are treasured.

Jesus' friend, John, wrote these words long ago: "See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are" (1 John 3:1 NLT).

So, whether it's Valentine's Day or any time of year, stop waiting on other people to fill you with self-worth. It's time to throw away that paper bag. There is a Valentine message that trumps all others, and it says unequivocally that you are already loved more than you can possibly imagine.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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