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By Brother Randy Atkinson
We’ve just begun a new year and already the second month is upon us. February is always remembered for being the shortest month, even when “leap” day is included. We begin the month with a look at the weather and a glimpse into the future with a” prognostication” from the groundhog. Not so this year, but we end the month every four years with an extra day. In between, the Super Bowl will be played and a winner declared for another year. The birthdays of two former very influential and successful presidents will be remembered. Most Februarys include events surrounding Mardi Gras. However, the likely most famous and celebrated event in this second month is VALENTINE’S DAY. The day of romance, remembrance, significant occasions, and love. A multitude of emotions always come on and around the 14th of February, and for 2022, that is a Monday (a day that already has the reputation for negative emotions and feelings itself). Whether we like it or not, that day is nearly upon us. The season and holiday are actually promoted, advertised, and anticipated as soon as we leave the holidays of the last year (just refer to the candy aisle in every store). It is impossible to ignore, prevent, postpone, change or avoid this season and the feelings that naturally come. How will we handle the challenges of Valentine’s Day in 2022?
Some will be anxious, fretful, even quarantined. We won’t know what to do for those special persons in our life. Should I do anything? What should I say do or give? Did I do the right thing? Is this too much, too little, or just right? Will I express my feelings of appreciation, attraction, affection, and love? Will I be misunderstood? Will this be offensive or unwelcomed? This traditional holiday is not an obligation and should never evoke such turmoil or tension.
Some of us will be sad, lonely, and depressed. Valentine’s will remind us of people, places, and events in the past that are painful. Even more likely, of people and relationships that were once happy and meaningful, but they do not exist today. Time brings inevitable change. Some changes hurt deeply. A season of romance and remembering is almost too much to bear. Happier days of the past are no longer available and it is difficult when we are reminded of happier times as we watch others joyfully celebrating.
Some will allow the “season of love” and the sad memories this brings to cause us to descend into bitterness, anger, and negativity. A sense of dread and depression can ensue. Sadness and loneliness are hard enough. When we allow these to degrade into emotions and experiences that are too painful to face and maybe even become destructive to our emotional, mental, social, physical health we must learn how to turn this cycle around.
We get the picture. February 14 and the accompanying season with all its announcements and activities can be too much to handle and leave us emotionally depleted as we move out of the month and into the next season of spring. We can find ourselves little prepared for the new season of growth, anticipation, excitement, and breaking out. The question thus arises, does it have to be this way? How can we face the inevitability of this time of the year and move forward with minimal discomfort, anxiety, and harm?
I am glad you asked!!
I believe the key is perspective. If we face these challenges in our own abilities, depend on others to protect or sustain us or simply live in the memories of past days, experiences, and relationships, the whole Valentine season will be hollow at the least and totally devastating at the worst. This can be the result if our perspective is merely physical, relational, and on a horizontal plane.
The best and right perspective is vertical. It is possible to view everything, each day, any season, and all memory from the heavens’ or Gods’ point of view! I am speaking of a divine and biblical understanding of life and all its circumstances. We must truly, fully, and actually acknowledge the reality of our hurt, pain, limitations, desires, struggles, needs, sadness, etc. We confess our own frailties, limitations, and inability to cope on our own. We declare that there is no earthly resource or human ability to which we can turn. Someone has well pointed out that we must first admit our own insufficiency as we look around and down into despair finding no satisfactory help. Then we are forced to look beyond ourselves, any human efforts, and look up to God, His Word, and His hopeful promises and there is the answer we have looked for all along!
A cute story illustrates this for us. The little boy was playing in the sandbox and having a wonderful time, except for one huge out-of-place stone hindering all activity. He tried and could not remove it on his own. He used all his playthings in the box and still could not handle the obstacle in his way. The child eventually resorted to shouting to the stone and finally sitting back and pouting and almost crying in defeat. Then the child heard the voice of a parent saying, “you are not using every available resource”. The youngster asked, “What do you mean?”. The parent replied, “I am here, try me, ask me, see how I can come to your aid”. Of course, the child responded and the situation was immediately resolved. The point is obvious. We all have our problems, burdens, and impossible situations. We all also have the infinite, perfect, available power of Almighty God simply awaiting our request and faith.!!!!!
In fact, the help we need to face ALL of life’s challenges whether Valentine’s season or any other is all-sufficient unlimited, and readily available. Just as that little boy learned, in the Bible, the book of Psalms, the writer says, “… ALL my springs are in thee”.
When any season of sadness, struggle with strength, or sense of sorrow comes we can always look upward in faith, listen by faith for a word from God and allow ourselves to utterly depend, trust, rely on, and place full confidence in Him. This is what we find: the Bible says, we need never feel unloved, “for God is love”, (I John 4:8), “God so loved the world”, (John 3: 16), “God loved us and sent His Son” (1 John 4:10), and the so very personal statement of God in Jeremiah 31:8, “… I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee…”.
We need never be dependent on others, past experiences, prior memory, or any human device. We have a permanent, unbreakable, undeniable, all-encompassing, unquenchable relationship with God, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, (Hebrews 13:5). We can know that no matter how difficult life may become at any time or season, “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me”, “My God shall supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:13, 19). Perhaps most helpful of all is the reminder in Romans 8: 38 – 39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God….”.
As you face inevitable struggles whenever and especially in February 2022, remember God loves you, He hears you, knows your need, and is ready, willing, and able to help. In addition, God often places people in our path to reveal to us His love with a word, hug, gesture, smile, or whatever we need. Receive that. When He sends others your way, be ready to be a giver of the message of God’s love when you encounter those who may be struggling also.
God loves you and so do I,
Happy Valentines Day!