“I thought of you.”
He stepped aside to reveal a chair. It was too small to comfortably sit upon, too old to test without a dare. Pea-soup colored paint flaked from the legs. Wade smiled, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Everyone loves a good story. We crave relatable, broken heroes, perilous journeys, engaging dialogue, and perhaps I’m going out on a limb here with the male readership, but every good story contains an element of love. No, better yet, every story is a love story. Be it love lost, love found, friendship love, familiar love, enduring love, obsessive love, self-love, or selfless love, every story may be summed up by some sort of love.
Many believe we over use the word “love” in America, that we are too quick to say such a significant word for inconsequential circumstances or desires. As a writer, I love the word love. I love what it can mean, and I especially don’t think it’s over used. Perhaps the issue instead lies with our ability to show love verses tell about it.
“Show, don’t tell” is the most touted writing technique to engage readers. We don’t want a writer to tell us, “it was very cold.” We want to be shown a man, trudging through fierce wind and heavy snow. Show me his chapped hands shivering so uncontrollably he can barely open his thermos of lukewarm coffee.
That Valentine’s Day, I had feigned excitement over the simple chair. I said how much I loved it, and I’ve showed it by always finding a place for the chair in our homes. I would never want to be ungrateful, but years passed and I wondered what on Earth would make anyone think of me at the sight of this beat up chair. Here we are, officially over a decade later, and the chair owns a proud spot in my kitchen.
In the morning, my children run downstairs and plop in it to watch me bake and dream aloud their grand plans for adventure. Later, I’ll sit there and make a store list while I spy on little cowboys, race car drivers, or big game hunters. The pea green is the perfect complement to our kitchen cabinets. And every day, I look at the chair and think of the man who saw something delicate but useful, different but still beautiful, older but timeless and my heart swells to think he saw that and thought of me. Ok, maybe he saw junk furniture and just knew it would fit with my other junkie trinkets, but still. He thought of me. And as far as stories go, their characters and journeys, the depth and humanity, showing love is always in the details.
Everyone’s story is a love story, even those of us who’ve gone without love for most of our lives. Our broken or hardened or downtrodden hearts are no indication of what could be, only evidence of the world’s tribulation. Take heart, Jesus Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33).
This Valentine’s Day and every day thereafter, don’t just tell someone you love them. Show them. Elaborate expressions, flowers, cards, and chocolate are great, but they often lack one thing: the details. Need better love advice? Ask the One who made us.
Friends, we were created for love and by Love. May we step into the Lenten season with the intention of growing closer to the God who knows every detail about us, and who desires nothing but all your heart.