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We Love Because God Loved Us First

By Michele Hermansen, 03/14/13, 4:30PM CDT

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In 1984 I thought I found the perfect Valentine’s card for my parents. It said:

Mom and Dad, 

To wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day I would

Climb the highest mountain

Ford the deepest stream…

Collapse, exhausted and muddy, on your carpet.

Feeling that it captured both my immense love and gratitude for them, and the unconditional love and support they’ve always given freely, this has become the “perpetual” card. After Valentine’s Day, my parents put the card back in the envelope and gave it back to me. I put it away and give it back to them every few years, adding the date and a note. Twenty years after the first presentation of the card, I added: “but now I’d clean up my mess afterwards.” Each time the card is shared it’s special all over again.

The one thing that most amazes me about love is that it multiplies as it is shared. We aren’t given a finite amount of love in this life, to be divided among a very carefully chosen few. How fortunate for us that God has not limited the love and grace God, first, gives freely to us! We are given the great privilege and responsibility to grow that love by sharing it with others, freely and without obligation or expectation. 

Fortunately we don’t have to climb the highest mountain or ford the deepest stream to let others know they are loved. Love takes many forms, many of them without words. This month I encourage each of us to “think outside the Valentine’s card” and delight the people in our lives with simple and heartfelt gifts of love and generosity. Ordinary days become quite extraordinary when we love the way God first loved us.  (1 John 4:19). 

Here are some ideas for starters:

•    Give the cashier in the cold parking lot booth a cup of hot chocolate

•    Write a note to the manager, providing recognition for the person in the drive-through window who always has a smile in their voice

•    Write a card telling someone why they’ve always been special to you

•    Call someone just to say hello and be a caring listener

•    Do another family member’s normal chores one day

•    Thank a volunteer who gives generously and humbly year after year

•    Bring a cup of soup to the co-worker pushing through a deadline

Good and gracious God, open our hearts to your abundant love that we may reflect it brightly with great joy and generosity. Amen.