Wednesday, 13 February 2013

An Opportunity to Serve

February 14th.

Valentine's Day.

The day when women all over the world expect flowers, candies, cards and dinners. 

Valentine's Day has many foes; large numbers of people despise the focus on relationships when their own love lives are lifeless, many people lament the emphasis on spending money and the apparent necessity to buy into the commercial aspect of the day, and then there are people who believe that boycotting the day is the best way to state to the world that we should celebrate our relationships more than just once a year. 

I'd like to point out that I personally enjoy the day.  I enjoy the prospect of a day designated to the celebration of our relationships.  Plus, I think it's fun. 

That being said, I do have my issues with Valentine's Day.  My biggest issue is with my expectations about the day. 

Growing up as young girls, we are taught that Valentine's Day is when it is the boys' responsibility to lavish us with tokens of their affection, and anything less than the sweetest "Be Mine" card and one more candy than they gave every other girl is grounds for being upset with them. 
In High School, if our boyfriends forgot Valentine's Day, they were no longer 'boyfriend material', and if so-and-so got a better gift than we did, we felt ripped off. 
Fast-forward to our married selves, and while our expectations may be more moderate and our hormone fluctuations more temperate, we still expect something and a fight may be brewing if we feel ourselves neglected or forgotten. 

But perhaps we're looking at this all wrong.  Instead of thinking ourselves the best wives in the world because we make it easy for our husbands by telling them exactly what our expectations are and helping them remember to bring home flowers, shouldn't we be viewing this as the perfect chance to show our spouses how much we love them?   Instead of waiting to be served, should we take the opportunity to serve?

The selfish expectations we hold regarding how our men should treat us is something we were likely taught at a very young age.  In an attempt to equip girls with self-esteem and a feeling of worth, the world told us we were beautiful, that we deserved the best and that we needed to hold out until we found someone who was willing to give us that.  But what we should have been taught is that we are beautiful because we are daughters of our Holy Father, that we deserve death but have been redeemed through Him, and that 'the best' is a man who pursues God with all his heart, and who strives to serve Him in everything he does.  The first model did little more than teach us that we needed to find a husband who would wait on us hand-and-foot, particularly in seasons such as pregnancy or obligatory dates, such as Valentine's Day and our anniversary.  The second model teaches so much more; it shows us that we need to desire to serve, that pursuing God is our highest priority and that keeping our focus on God is the best thing that can happen to our earthly relationships. 

Should your husband remember Valentine's Day, your birthday and your anniversary?  Yes, he probably should.  But instead of worrying about his memory and his plans, we should instead worry first about ours. 

Wine him.  Dine him.  Show him that you adore him.  Let him know that you appreciate the man and the leader that he is. 
Get your kids in on it.  Make sure they let him know what a great Daddy he is. 
And remember that this day is a great reminder to do these things, but that we need to do it regularly.  I've heard it said before, "Ladies, if you don't pursue your husband, there are plenty of women who will be willing to take over for you."  And it's true.  We need to encourage our husbands in our relationship, and I think Martin Luther had a great formula for it: "Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave."  But our responsibility as the wives in that equation lies first in making him glad to come home - to making him feel loved, appreciated, served and respected. 

So whatever your expectations for Valentine's Day were, throw them out the window.  Shift gears and use this opportunity to serve your husband to the best of your abilities.  Greet him at the door with a cold drink and a plate of nachos, make sure he get's a say in the evening's activities and make double-sure that he gets a nice long back rub. 

And if you find that you do feel he is neglecting you and that you would appreciate him to express his affection more freely, talk to him respectfully, not emotionally, and request that he think about it and perhaps talk with an older man to gain perspective on the situation.  And remember the teachings of Peter when it says, "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." 1 Peter 3:1-2  We need to submit to our husbands and serve them for God's glory.  And God truly is glorified when we celebrate the relationships He has blessed us with!

To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen!

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