Since I have become a mother, Valentine’s Day has become one of my favorite holidays. My son, Ryder, loves picking out “Balentimes” for his day care class and over the last 2 years it has been my favorite Mommy-Ryder outing. We get really into it. He picks a box and I read the samples off of the back of the box to him. I do this narration in my best character voice and because I am still cool right now, he belly laughs. My batman voice is currently his favorite.
He also enjoys picking out teacher gifts. My son adores his teachers. They are his school mamas. This year we picked out a very sweet decorative basket with all kinds of teacher slogans on it. I thought we did pretty well and so we made our way to the check out line. Suddenly we had a moment of 3 year old distress.
Toddler distress is a pain of its own kind. We are talking a cross between The Exorcist and that scene from Lion King when Mufasa dies (sorry for the spoiler). It is pretty serious and extremely dramatic. In my calmest of voices I asked my little guy what was going on.
Ryder was highly upset that his teacher’s basket was empty. I marveled at how sweet and thoughtful he was and then we were off to the candy aisle. We found all sorts of treats to put in that basket. He lit up. He was thrilled that he wasn’t going to give his loved one something empty.
I think about the pad answer “I love yous” that I give to people. I have grown so accustomed to telling my loved ones that I love them that I have accidentally said it on a call to the cable company. (That love was unrequited)
Do I give my dearest loved ones empty words or do I show them? What about God? Do I give Him a mundane “Thank you for this day” without really noticing the gift of today? Are words really enough or are they just empty baskets?
Think about all the “Be mines” and “I love yous” found in the pages of the bible. Do we know that those words aren’t empty?
I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
I and my Father are one.
Sometimes our human nature demands proof of love before we allow ourselves to give love. Ryder knows his teacher loves him because she cuddles him and feeds him and plays with him. He knows if he falls she will pick him up and if he isn’t sure what comes after 9 she will surely tell him the right answer.
I say I love you, but does my God and my family know that I am there for them? Do they feel we are on the same team?
Bigger, more selfish question: Do I know my God and my family love me? Maybe we all need a minute to put in perspective God’s love for us. Ready for the biggest clue?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
What a sacrifice! Can you imagine?!
I met a man once who would brag about being God’s favorite. He would smile the biggest smile and boast about God’s love for him. It annoyed me sometimes, but I was always jealous of that feeling. He was so secure in where he stood with God.
Often I feel like I am unworthy, and honestly, we all are, but how can that stop me from knowing God’s love and prevent me from delivering Him an empty basket? What can I put in God’s balentimes basket?
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
I am going to challenge myself here. This is my public declaration for my love of God. I am going to sing louder in the choir at church, remind myself I’m God’s favorite, and love my God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. I am going to worship harder. Why do I not romance and love on God more? What am I afraid of?
My family is my most prized gift. I adore each and every person that lives in this house.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
Am I patient with my children? Am I kind to my spouse when he doesn’t meet my expectations? Do I keep score of how many times a room isn’t cleaned? Am I jealous when my partner gets to nap or sleep in? This verse is beautiful, but it’s pretty demanding. But guess what? We all have what it takes.
I have a plan for Balentimes Day, and my hope is it will last long after. I plan to ask God to Be Mine, to chase Him. I intend to remind my family that my love is true and that they will always stay mine. Every basket that I give away will be filled with all sorts of goodies. No more empty baskets.