The door to the bakery jingled as I opened it. Inside the bakery were many signs that Valentine's Day was almost here. Heart-shaped balloons and stuffed teddy bears the size of small children greeted the entrance and iced cookies personalized with "I Love You" lined the glass shelves, tempting me in all their sugar glory. Love was all around, that was for sure.
Approaching the cashier, I told her my name and what I had ordered. She came back with four sets of Valentine's cookies for my kids teachers and two large boxes of assorted cookies for our doctors. I added one cupcake for a family member as she rung up my order. We were ready to share some love.
When our girls were babies and we lived in Montgomery, we'd always go visit the NICU on Valentine's Day with homemade cupcakes. One year I made red velvet bars that tasted better than they looked. Last year, Ridley was born two days before Valentine's Day and I had a box of cookies delivered to my OBGYN's office, thanking them for taking care of us during my pregnancy. I enjoy giving Valentine's treats to people that have serviced us as a small way to say "I notice that you care. Thank you."
This year, I thought it would be fun to have the kids tag along to deliver Valentine's Day treats. We decided to gift our pediatrician's office and my OBGYN since Ridley was about to celebrate his first birthday (more on that!). We had to wait until one o'clock to deliver the gifts so we played at a playground for an hour after school. I thought this would be a good idea but it backfired, making us all tired, hungry, and ready to go home. But I promised the girls we would be quick. You can guess what happened next.
Yep. You know the kind. The kind where one child pitches a fit over putting her shoes on and where the other one wants to take every-single-toy-that-she-owns inside with her and the kind where your baby arches his back refusing to be buckled into his car seat. The kind where mommy loses her patience and says in a tone a bit too sharp to "Stop crying! We need to go."
But instead of admitting defeat to the meltdown, we unbuckle and try to make our sticky faces, wild hair, and smelly diapers presentable before we walk inside, smiling like the happy family we appear to be. While walking, I can't help but think to myself, "Am I really teaching my kids about love right now?"
My intentions were true. We were doing something out of love, from our hearts, for someone else. Delivering cookies is a great way to teach kids about loving their neighbors. But, if we miss out on honoring one another with a loving attitude...we are missing the point. So, while love is an action, it does not need to become a performance that we put on for God, for our families, for each other.
In Romans 12:12, we are encouraged to be joyful, patient, and prayerful. I think that even if our actions have pure intent, if we do not serve one another with loving words and less anxiousness, then we are missing the true lesson of doing something in love. Might we take a deep breathe to steady our melt downs? Instead of melting down, may we look up to receive the calming presence of Love?
Looking up in prayer brings us back to loving our people joyfully and patiently. It brings a perfect balance to love being both an emotion and an action.
Let us love one another with brotherly affection, holding fast to what is good, and being genuine with both our actions and our words.
Till next time, let your light shine!