Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Story for Valentine's Weekend

The day of hearts and flowers (and chocolate!) is nearly upon us.

While there is a huge emphasis on romantic boy-girl love with this holiday, my local Christian radio station has been focusing on love beyond that. They encouraged listeners to write a short story (or even just a couple of paragraphs) of an experience of love from their life and send it to the station, where they've been reading them on the air this week. Some of the stories were romantic and others told of kind, meaningful things people had done for others.

I never did submit a story, but I had one in mind that has left an impression on me for decades. I'll share it with you. 

My story is not riveting or all that special to read, but it's something that means a lot to me.  It helped me to grow up a little bit more when I was "young and dumb," as I like to phrase it, and taught me to be aware of others at vulnerable times.

Beloved and I were planning to be married a week before Christmas at our home church in Denver, where he grew up and we had met in the youth group.

My family had moved to Denver only two and a half years before, but by the time our wedding was drawing near, my father had taken a new job back East. He, my mother, and my sister would be coming back to Denver for the wedding, arriving just a few days before the ceremony. 

After they moved away, I moved up to the college town of my fiancĂ© because I was lonely and needed to find a job before we got married. 

Thanksgiving rolled around, and I assumed we would be spending that day together. However, my soon-to-be in-laws wanted to have one last holiday with their son, sans me.  I was tempted to have hurt feelings about that, but at the same time, I was busy sewing some clothes for our honeymoon and decided the quiet time by myself could be well-spent with needle and thread. That was practical, brave and valiant, I suppose.

But on Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to the realization it was the absolute first major holiday of my life that I was to spend entirely by myself. I was raised in a home where holidays were celebrated with lots of delicious food, seasonal decorations, and sometimes guests, too. Clearly, that was not to going to happen on this particular holiday. I was sad.

Thankfully, sometime that morning a lady from our college-town church called. She knew me a little better than most of the other ladies because for a time her son had dated my sister, until my family moved away.

She said she was preparing a big dinner and had hardly anybody to enjoy it with her. Her husband was on a construction job out of town and could not get home for the day. One son was away at college, and so that left just her high school-aged son.  Would I like to come over for dinner?

I had no way to get there because I had no car.  She offered to come get me and my day brightened instantly.  We had a wonderful time. I ate to my heart's content and dutifully helped with the dishes, as my mother had taught me to do. 

By late afternoon I was back at my quiet apartment again, but that was okay. Generosity, hospitality, and love had been given to me. I have never forgot that act of thoughtful kindness.

As we think about Valentines, let's remember that love comes in many forms from many people.  We have much for which to be thankful.

What can we do to show love and consideration to someone else this weekend?
I am receiving some thoughtful comments, which I appreciate, however I have decided to close further comments.  This story, in the opinions of some,  tends to cast a negative light on my in-laws.  That was not my intent. 

Although they both have passed away long ago, I want to speak on their behalf by saying they were losing their last child to marriage and were embarking on their own new chapter of life. 

In retrospect, I should have made plans for that day after realizing I would not be spending it with them. I, too, had a lot to learn and believe I am wiser for the experience.