I’m taking you on a trip down memory lane with me and if you don’t like a romantic story, just tune out this blog post (or read one of last week’s posts) because today is intentionally mushy. By mushy, I mean, I’m going to tell you about my very first Valentine’s Day with the love of my life.
The day was major mushy—in a good way!
LeRoy and I met the fall that I was a sophomore in college. We were engaged by that December (I admit, that was super fast); we didn’t even know each other the previous Valentine’s Day, so when our first “sweetheart holiday” rolled around, he made plans to impress! (By the way, he tells people that he used up all his romance in one shot. Don’t think we spend every February like that first one!)
Our first Valentine’s Day didn’t start out with celebrating it on February 14th, no, he began the mushiness on the first day of the month! On the first day of that February he sent me a letter dripping with love. His love note came attached to the ribbon on the neck of a puffy white stuffed teddy bear (which I still have by the way).
I was surprised to get something from him that early, but even more surprised when I found another note and little gift he left for me the next day, and the next, and the next! From the first day of the month, he had a special surprise every single day leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Talk about spoiled, he was really going all out for me, and I was eating up that kind of special treatment.
By the time almost two weeks had passed, I couldn’t imagine what he would do as a finale, but he told me to plan on spending the entire day with him on the fourteenth. One thing that meant so much to me was that he planned the entire adventure all on his own.
We were both students at a Christian university that had conservative standards and requirements. One of those requirements was that women had to be in their dorm rooms (where men were not allowed, by the way) by midnight on the weekends. My precious fiancé had plans for our special day that required him going to my “Dorm Mom” (without me being aware of it) and getting special permission to bring me home after hours. He knew we might not make it back in time for curfew, and he didn’t want me being hit with some kind of penalty.
That year, Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday and the only clue I had about the day was that he would be picking me up at my dorm by 6:30 a.m. Talk about early for a couple of college students! I couldn’t imagine what he had in mind.
He pulled up in the parking lot of my dorm before the sun was even up. I still remember sitting in his car in the pre-dawn light and him handing me a small wrapped box. It was a delicate gold wrist watch (in pre-cell phone days, we used to wear those things on our wrists to keep up with the time). Then we took off on the open road!
A Deep-South Tour
We drove about four hours south and visited three different antebellum homes. It was a gorgeous day, a little chilly, but the sunshine was blazing. We spent time walking around the southern plantations and reading all of the markers. We both love history, so it was a special day sharing a common interest and enjoying new experiences.
My brother was an engineering student at Louisiana Tech at that time, and we even managed to meet up with him and my future sister-in-law for a quick visit. We came in well after midnight, but my Dorm Mom was tickled to help us make it happen and so glad that she got to be in on the event. (She was in her late seventies, never married, and quite the romantic at heart.)
That day will go down in history for me as one of my favorites.
Maybe you’ve never had a man show you that kind of special treatment. I’ll let you in on another little secret . . . that was the most “mushiness” my man ever showed me. My emotions came crashing down the next year when he barely remembered the day. He set himself a really high standard and I had huge expectations. Can you relate?
Love is More than Mushy
Now that we’ve spent more than three decades of Valentine’s Days together . . . I’ve learned a few things. I’ve learned that love consists of a lot more than gifts and road trips (although those are sweet bonding opportunities) and I’ve learned that men and women usually view Valentine’s Day and “romance” much differently. I’ve learned that walking through loss together provides the opportunity to experience a deeper level of oneness than a year filled with fluffy date nights.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that love is demonstrated through grace, service, selflessness, humility, and kindness. Love is the choice to give rather than demanding to receive. Love is more focused on caring for the other, rather than grabbing for myself.
Jesus gave us the real life example of true love:
[box]“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).[/box]
As this month begins, how can you demonstrate this kind of love to others?
Photo Credit: Lindsey Landrum Photography