By Betsy Bailey
Lessons in Love—It’s Not About Me
Valentine’s Day. Its meaning has totally changed with the times—the times of my life, that is.
In elementary school, it was Nandy’s Candy and a big chocolate “B” for Betsy.
In junior high, it was some off-brand necklace from the latest boyfriend. It seems like five minutes after I put the necklace on, my neck was covered in hives. The next day the necklace turned green.
In high school, I was more demanding and selective. Valentines required flowers, dinner, and a movie.
In college, it was jewelry again—but it better not be fake. A spa day was a plus.
If Valentines’ Day had to be defined, I would have said it was about love. Love was stuff. Love was an emotion. A feeling. The latest infatuation. Just as long as I was not alone.
As we fast forward to 2018, “alone” is altogether different now. I would kill to be alone. For 5 minutes. In the bathroom. In my bed. And the list goes on. I have 6 extra legs now that seem to be a part of me wherever I go.
What love was then and what love is now are totally different from what I thought years ago. (Kind of like my weight. Haha. It’s different, too.)
It’s no longer so much a feeling, but an action that God calls me to do over and over again each day. It’s a decision. It’s a commitment. It’s not a necklace or a spa day. And unfortunately, it’s not flowers every other month either.
As most of you know, I have three little ones, and two out of the three had an unexpected, dramatic, and scary time coming into this world. They both were given grim prognoses in the beginning. It wasn’t until I had babies of my own that I could fully comprehend the term “sacrificial love.” I remember sitting by their beds feeling physically sick and scared because even though I had only known each for a short amount of time, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. The gospel truth that ”God sent his son to die for me” had a whole new meaning.
There was no way I would voluntarily give Vivi or Smith up or purposely let them suffer for someone else. However, I would gladly put myself on the block for them every time.
God’s way of loving is so opposite of what the world keeps telling us love is. He keeps showing us what He means by LOVE—and we keep getting it wrong.
Love is serving. It’s an outward gesture. It’s being the hands and feet of Jesus in this crazy world. It’s loving people unconditionally even at their worst. And in the grind of day in and day out real life, we have lots of chances to be at our worst with those we love most. But we are called to love everyone. Every minute. Every day.
Love isn’t about you or the gift you do or don’t get on a holiday. Love is serving. It’s doing things for others. Regardless of what they did or didn’t do for you. Love doesn’t keep score.
It is about trying to include everyone, even the person who gets on your very last nerve. Sometimes it is stepping away from the keyboard and not letting the world know how you feel about someone else’s crazy political opinions. Love does seek out the person who is having a bad day or the person who is left out, and love tries to make them feel better.
Love creates. It creates an atmosphere around you where people feel safe. They see Jesus through you, and you go out of your way to be the light in a dark world with the things you do and the things you say.
So remember that as you are running around on the search for the best gift someone can give to YOU for Valentine’s Day. Stop with the Pinterest effort to be mother of the year at the Valentine’s party.
We need to make sure we are remembering what LOVE is supposed to be and to focus on teaching that to those around us. I am pretty sure my three little people won’t learn about that kind of love unless I model it for them. That’s a priority in this world.
“Let all that you do be done in love.” #WillTakeALifetime
Betsy Bailey is a territory manager for iRhythm Technologies. She and her husband, Jason, live in Birmingham with their three children under five, three dogs, and a goldfish. They attend Canterbury United Methodist Church.