The Gift of Love

Guys, I hope you didn’t forget the roses. Sometimes Valentine’s Day feels more like an obligation than a holiday. A weird day isn’t it? There are the love birds who plan the perfect day for weeks (at least for the first year). There are also the couples who plan a last minute date only because everyone else is doing it. Also, you might find couples who wait for this day to come only to passionately hate it. I admit, if I am in a relationship,  I will always celebrate  this day. Mainly because I never saw it as an obligation to love, but an opportunity to love. I don’t necessarily believe in Valentine’s Day but I do believe in love.

Love is a hard thing to grasp. There are ways we can feel love, for example through the 5 love languages: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of service, 3) gifts, 4) physical touch, and 5)quality time. On top of feelings we have over a million ways to express love, which could be through song, dance, poetry, or any other creative outlet.We hear songs like “True Love” by The Beatles or “Puppy Love” by Lil’ Bow Wow (before he was Bow Wow) and we have a literally innumerable amount of love poems. A common theme you will notice in any love songs, or poetry, is that love always involves a connection, whether that is with God, self, or others.

I can speak about love through my own experience. I can go on and on about the times that I have felt love, whether that was a beautiful moment created romantically or if that love came from my mother organically. My own experience allows me to let you know what love might feel like, but no matter how hard I try to define love I know that will never be an easy task. While I don’t know how to define love, I know how it makes me feel. Love is contagious. Erwin McManus said one of the most profound statements on love that I have ever heard. He said, “Love never comes in the perfect size container, it always comes to overflow. So that when you receive love you give love.” This statement of love shows the power of love. Love does not just have the ability to make a connection, but love can create a cascade.

Love was never meant to be for a single connection. Love was always meant to be shared. Have you ever noticed how people are so much happier when they are in love. When they are in love, they are more willing to share love. I remember when I was in love, I could not stop thanking God. Not only that but I was more and more motivated to share this love that I had felt and that love would eventually spill over into every relationship that I had. Being in love is amazing—colors seem brighter, people seem nicer, and life just feels full. This year, I did something a little different for Valentine’s Day. My cascade was waiting to happen and hopefully it erupted in some of the homeless tents in San Francisco.

I was driving last week and I drove under a bridge in the Mission Bay and even though it had been raining all week, I saw a group of cops basically forcing these people to leave their shelter and they kept watching as the homeless men and women shamefully walked away from their hiding places where they created a home. I knew I wanted to do something so that day and I just wanted to make them feel loved so I created care packages. These bags consisted of: gatorade, toilet paper, duct tape, socks, chocolate, candy, a rose, and finally a handwritten note that my friend Kat helped me write. Unfortunately, I was only able to create 24 bags but most of the people received these bags with such gratitude. I will always remember when one of the guys I met, TJ, walked towards my car and waved at me and smiled as I drove away from my first location. One of the coolest parts was that so many of the people who received the bags asked for more for their friends. They received the love and they wanted to give to those around them even though they barely had anything to give.

Most of the people were so grateful, but one of the last bags that I gave out really really scarred me. At my second location on Bryant St, I gave out my first bag to a man named “Jersey” and his daughter who was waiting in his tent and as I was doing that I heard this girl yelling at another guy in his tent and basically calling him out for stealing all of her stuff. I kept walking. I handed out a few more bags and had a really good conversation with the guys who let me take a picture with them, but I was given a second chance with that girl. She went back to the tent, grabbed her stuff, and stormed off. I didn’t have any bags on me so I tried to see where she was going as I rushed back to my car. I grabbed a bag and started speed walking towards but not running so I wouldn’t scare her. I think this is the only person, where I thought “I really hope this makes her day.” I finally caught her, I said, “Excuse me, can I give you this bag for Valentine’s Day?” She looked so surprised and asked, “For me?” And I tried to strike a conversation, but honestly I couldn’t. I asked if she needed prayer or anything else… No response. I asked if I could take a picture for my blog and she seemed like a deer in headlights but said yes.
I thought I blew it. I had so many chances to encourage her and motivate her and really just share love with her. To make matters worse, that was the only bag that I gave out that didn’t have a card of affirmation. I looked at the picture and I thought, “I know this look.” While I saw a beautiful human being, I believe I saw someone who struggled with her own self-worth, maybe even struggled with the idea of being worthy of love. I am reminded of when she just looked so confusing and asked, “For me?” This was an important reminder that there are some people that rarely feel love with no hidden intention, which is why we need to share love.

My life has been forever changed by love. If you were to talk to me for the all of high school and even the first half of my college life, I would have never done anything like this. I never thought about love. It was so hard for me to say I love you to anyone, even my mom. After I met Jesus, I felt a deep love. A love that just boils up a need to change the world in me. Songs about love started to make sense, love poems started to make sense, and I began to see the love in us. Colossians 3:14 says, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Have you ever thought, “God if you could just show yourself to us all life would be so much easier.” I feel like God might be saying, “I am trying, but I am waiting on you.” My deepest prayer is that when you choose to love in any way, even if you do not believe, that you might see even a little bit of God in that action or the person. Because the greatest gift of love is not gratitude, the greatest gift of love is God.

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