I can remember when I was in junior high school that Valentine’s Day was a huge day. The coolest girls received deliveries to the school office. Big bundles of flowers, heart boxes full of candy, and teddy bears with a red bow. I longed for one of those deliveries, but I never got it. I even had to wait a few years before a boy exchanged a gift with me at all. I can’t recall what it was, though. I don’t even remember when I received my first bouquet of a dozen red roses. I suppose the gifts that fade into your past weren’t really that memorable to begin with. For something that seemed so important at the time, the weight of it doesn’t even leave a ripple in the waters of my mind.
I mean, I can’t even recall what my Valentine’s Day card from my husband last year said, and I know I thought the sentiment was especially sweet. I guess that’s why I had always kept the cards he gave me, so I could look back and remind myself what was printed on the card stock. But things are different now. I don’t have a treasure box, hope chest, or storage space with which to pack away my memories. I mean, when was the last time I had read one of those cards anyway? Sometimes you realize you have to let the stuff that disintegrates go in favor of the things that don’t.
And indeed, we had gotten rid of boxes and rooms full of stuff. We had sold and given away a whole two story house packed of objects that you could hold and see so that we could increase the items you couldn’t see, like time together and unconditional love. A year ago we gave up all the stuff so we could travel the country together as a family. We had a small home in the form of an RV, but it certainly wasn’t going to hold years full of cards or a collection of teddy bears and puppies holding hearts. Hence, how Valentine’s Day went this year.
With a new minimalist lifestyle in mind, I had suggested to my spouse how best we might exchange Valentine’s this year. Of course, he found it brilliant. And it’s certainly not one I shall soon forget.
You see, for starters my husband was the best gift I’d ever been given. God had that man designed to be the perfect partner for me, and we had looked back in awe at how the world tried to destroy us, yet God had brought us through it all for His plans to prevail. Even when decades of time and thousands of miles worked to keep us apart, in the end God brought us back together. He knew that Ben was the man I needed to be able to grow closer to the Lord and impact the world with God’s love.
Then there was the fact that my husband gave me good gifts every day. He gave me his heart, his time, his sacrifices, his words of encouragement, his uplifting compliments, and his attention and affection. I watched the world around me, and I saw people who needed time away from their spouse who got on their nerves. They needed tons of girlfriends to confide in about how their husband didn’t understand their needs. They spoke about how hard marriage was, and I just couldn’t for the life of me relate. I had never thought it was hard, not even mildly difficult. It was so easy to be loved by him, and to reciprocate that love. That was the greatest gift.
Every day, the way he looked at me. The look that said, “you are my person. You’re the one that makes life perfect. I can’t imagine anything better than this right here, looking at you.” That look got me every time. It was how I never grew tired of cuddling with him, or how I never tired of hearing, “I love you so much.” I wanted to spend every moment of every day in his presence, and if I could make a day longer than twenty-four hours, I’d spend the extra minutes at his side. It was easy sharing life with him. And I didn’t need a card to tell me he felt the same. But cards are fun, right?
So this year, with the fact that we hauled all our possession around the United States, we thought it would be fun to go to the card aisle and find the Valentine’s that expressed our feelings for each other best, exchange them there, and then put them back! It was perfect! He picked out the absolute best card, and he loved mine too. I probably won’t be able to recite tomorrow what it said, though. And neither will he. Yet we won’t need to. Each day we live out a life together that represents what those Valentine’s stated. Each day we express our affection to one another, and that’s the sort of thing you don’t forget.