When Valentine’s Day Meets Ash Wednesday

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Sometimes it’s easier to invite God into the bad moments than the good ones. I’ve noticed I tend to my friendship with God more intently—this friendship I may have neglected for a time—when stuff has completely fallen apart.

Two weeks into January every year, my family celebrates most of our milestones. My boys’ birthdays are first on back-to-back days, followed the next day by our wedding anniversary. It can be quite the busy rush right at the start of a new year.

It’s also the time of year that I usually get sick. Typically I come down with a cold, a sinus infection, or the flu. Two years ago, it was COVID. This year an old childhood favorite decided to pay me a visit, and I got knocked down with strep throat after the sun set on the boys’ birthdays and before it rose again on my husband’s and my 12th wedding anniversary.

Spending the next few nights sitting upright in a chair, wondering if this is what it feels like to swallow razor blades, I had a great amount of time to reflect. I had some time to slow down. I sat up in the dimly lit living room while my family rested peacefully and was acutely aware of the presence of my friend, God, sitting beside me.

Aside from the intense throat pain, it was actually nice to slow down and just be with my friend, the friend I had neglected almost all of December as well as the start of the new year because other priorities (like giving my kids great birthday memories) took precedence. I was really glad God and I caught up.

It made me wonder, however, how my friend feels about the fact that I need literally to be knocked off my feet to spend a little quality time catching up. It made me wonder how my friend feels knowing that I often make time for our relationship when I’m at my lowest points and yet forget to do so when I’m in the midst of my most joyful ones.

This year, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day coincide: a day about joy, love, and celebration alongside a day about sacrifice, remembering our mortality, and recalling our utter dependence on God. At first glance, this seems paradoxical. However, I think the combination of these two days just might be the perfect way for me to start practicing inviting God into all of my experiences. It may just be the perfect way for me to enter Lent, remembering God is the one love that was here at the beginning of my life and will be here long after its inevitable end.

Let’s remember to invite God in for the joys as well as the sorrows, the excitements as well as the frustrations, and the healthy moments as well as the sick ones. Will you join me this Valentine’s Day and enter Lent trying to do just that as we honor the one who gave us the ultimate gift of love?

It might just be the change our friendship with God needs most.

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash.

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