Most of us are familiar with the scene from Disney’s Cinderella. She has finally overcome all of the obstacles, received the help of her fairy godmother, and now she is at the ball. She dances with her prince and they make the amazing discovery that they are instantly “in love.”
As we draw closer to Valentine’s Day, there is much talk of love. We certainly all know that there are about as many definitions of love as there are people. Its definition often changes according to the experience a person has had in his or her life. Some have a beautiful, glamorous view of love, others a jaded, scarred perspective on what it means to “feel that way.” Some view loving as making yourself a victim to the whims and choices of others, some see love as a victory over the ugly things in life. It is a huge part of who we are and how we think.
For the last month or so, the kids and I have begun to focus on the fruits of the Spirit and developing them in our lives. During our morning Bible reading we listen for our fruit in what we are reading and discuss how God can help us to develop that in our own lives more fully or how He shows it to us. We started with love and each day we go over our definition that love means giving of ourselves to others without expecting anything back. Obviously that definition will grow more detailed as they grow older and more mature, but for now that is what I want their focus to be. The love I see in my Father is Him pouring out Himself, His heart, His firstborn, His provision, His protection, His relationship upon us when we succeed in loving Him in return and when we don’t. The Bible says that God is love which tells me that I can no more fully understand it than I can understand His heart. This also means that those who do not know Him are missing the core, the essence of love! They can only see the glimpses that come when someone made in His image chooses to reflect that love that is God. That is a sobering, heartbreaking truth. Someday we will stop seeing in the mirror dimly and see face to face. Then we will truly grasp love. (I Cor. 13) Until then, I want my children to hear that love is not a product of what I felt like doing when I woke up this morning or the result of how another person treated me. They are not at the mercy of “love’s whims” or incapable of controlling its urges. It is choice, and not a choice to do what makes us happy, but a choice to give. And, of course, because of how God works, when we choose His love it does lead to a happiness or joy that we couldn’t have produced in our wildest dreams or most ideal circumstances.
Just as God always does when we are trying to focus on something and asking Him to reveal to us new things about His heart, He has put many opportunities for me to see His kind of love in action over the last month. I have seen it in my mom, aunt, and uncle as they have loved their parents through some of their family’s most difficult moments following my grandmother’s serious car accident and the life-changing effects it brought. I have seen it in a wife allowing God to use her to love a husband who is unable to return her love due to the wounds, hurt, and choices in his own life. She hasn’t been able to choose the circumstances or his response, but she has chosen God and the victory that His love for her pours into her life. I have seen it in a couple choosing to humble themselves, offering their hearts and mistakes to the Lord, and beginning fresh with forgiveness poured over the past as they fight for each other and their family. I have seen it in our lives as we once again witness the absolute miracle of hearts that were already so full expanding to the point that imagining a life where we did not yet love our Natalie is unfathomable – and we haven’t even met her yet. I have seen it when one of my small children climbs into my lap and wants nothing in the world except to be with me for a moment. I have seen it in my husband as he has refused grudges or resentment over disappointing circumstances and has instead chosen to focus on the hearts and needs of those God has called him to serve. I have seen it daily in every person in my life who is patient and forgiving with all of my weaknesses and failings. I am indeed in awe over how I see God reflected all around me.
So as we lead up to Valentine’s next week, I chose some love projects to do with the kids that will hopefully drive home all that we have been learning. I printed out a picture collage for them that had several pictures of cutesie Valentine things like balloons and candy hearts as well as pictures of grandparents and family, of our wedding, and pictures of Jesus and the cross. I asked them each to choose a picture and to tell me why it represented true love. Kailey chose a picture of some of our family with John’s parents and his brother and sister-in-law. She said that family was true love “Because they always loved you and never broke love. Ever.” That sweet girl loves her some family. Levi also chose a picture of family reminding me again that our love of these small ones is such an important part of their understanding of God and His love! What a crucial job we have been given! John V chose a picture of his baptism this summer. He said, “Because it showed everyone that I love God and it was a picture of what God had done in my heart, how I had chosen to love Him forever.” *Mom in melty puddle.* Then we talked about how they knew a secret that many, many people in the world did not know. That more than the Valentine heart, the cross was a picture of love. I asked if they thought that should be a secret and they said with horror, “No! Everyone should know that!” So we talked about our huge job of love. That we tell, and more importantly show, others that the cross is the best way to draw a picture of love.
Tomorrow’s little project is to watch Cinderella. Then we will talk about how she found her prince and her “love” but then the stroke of a clock changed things and created an obstacle that made it difficult for her prince to find her again without her beautiful dress and slippers. We’re going to talk about our Prince and how when things happen and our beautiful clothes turn to rags and He sees and knows the worst of things about us, that still it doesn’t provide Him even a second of hesitation. No trouble finding us, no problems putting us right back in His arms and keeping us there. Because His love is the one that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Oh, beautiful promise! Our Prince is unstoppable in His love, even by us.
Although I doubt this was the intention of the writers when they penned these words that would become a part of the beloved classic film, if you think about what our hearts should sing as we discover the love of our Father, they came pretty close to hitting the nail on the head. 🙂
“So this is love, Mmmmmm,
So this is love.
So this is what makes life divine.
I’m all aglow, Mmmmmm,
And now I know,
The key to all heaven is mine.
My heart has wings, Mmmmmm,
And I can fly.
I’ll touch ev’ry star in the sky.
So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of
So this is love.”