I think the phrase “Jesus is my Valentine” is a load of crap. No, He isn’t. That is lonely, single, Christian language for “I don’t have a date tonight so I’m stuck eating at Noodles & Co. with my friend.” Jesus can’t take me on a date. He can’t buy me flowers (or burritos). As far as I’m concerned, He’s not the best Valentine. There are plenty of people in this world that could buy me flowers…or a freakin’ burrito. So why doesn’t that tangible love leave me feeling satisfied? Why am I still lonely?
From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. [Psalm 61:2]
When I am lying in the darkness, weak and beaten down, I have no-one else to cry out to. These are the moments when I realize what I should have been doing all along.
For as long as I can remember in my Christian life, I have struggled with finding comfort in the Lord. Because of how I lived before Christ, my life with Christ has suffered. It is much harder for me to seek comfort in God than it is…anything/anyone/anywhere else. Having physical and tangible comfort brings me peace. When that comfort is taken away, my world falls apart. Pretending to be a functioning human being becomes hard. I begin to go through the motions of life to appear normal, but I would rather stay in bed all day. What’s the point anymore? My comforts are gone.
This is the problem with momentary satisfaction, idolatry, and physical comfort. They are not permanent. These things that I hope for, long for, and work toward will not last forever. That is a guarantee. What do we have that lasts forever? Other than student loans, I can’t think of anything. When I put my hope and faith in a human, it will ultimately lead to disappointment. They will fail me in some way, even if it’s just dying before I do, abandoning me on this earth in my old age. Christians are somehow able to find comfort in God instead of man. Somehow, Christians are able to view God as something much greater than humankind; God can provide comfort, eternal satisfaction, steadfast love, perfect affection, etc. I don’t get it. Somehow…God is their “Valentine (ew).”
This past week, I have been breaking down walls in my heart. I have been silent. I have been practicing what Psalm 62 says as it opens up:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be greatly shaken. [v. 1-2]
On most days, I could replace “God” with just about anything. “For _____ alone my soul waits in silence.” Humans, money, comfort, love, affection, etc. This week, I have been trying to learn how to be desperate for the Lord. I have been silent and I have been waiting. What I’ve discovered is that it is scary to look into the depths of your own soul. When you are silent and away from all distraction, you see things about yourself that are just plain nasty.
Part of finding comfort in God is not allowing myself to find it anywhere else. That’s the (seemingly) impossible task. I have to unlearn a way I’ve lived for almost 20 years. I have to unlearn that lasting comfort and joy comes from humans instead of God. Holy crap. That is such a task, believe me. I often feel like my efforts are worthless. My life is not changing. Then I remember how much longer 20 years is than the past few months. I am reading a book called “The Inner Voice of Love” by Henri Nouwen. I feel like he wrote it specifically for me:
Your healing is not a straight line. You must expect setbacks and regressions….do not despair, thinking that you cannot change yourself after so many years…you cannot make yourself different. Jesus came to give you a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a new body.
His book, which is all about loneliness, abandonment, comfort, and his journey to find those things in Christ, has been eye-opening. This is not a struggle I am facing alone. So many people struggle with finding joy in God instead of the world. Even better, there is hope.
The way to victory is not trying to overcome your dispiriting emotions directly but in building a deeper sense of safety and at-homeness and a more incarnate knowledge that you are deeply loved.
So, Jesus isn’t my Valentine. For years and years and years, it’s always been someone or something else. But for all those years in the past, and for the rest of the years that I have on this earth, I’ve been His. That’s neat.