Generally Speaking: Love is the most powerful force on earth


Valentine’s Day is finally here.

It feels like it should have come and gone a long time ago since it appeared to arrive the day after Christmas.

An entire section of Walgreens has been well-stocked for weeks with heart shaped boxes of chocolates and valentine greeting cards for every possible relationship in your life – even the family dog. I read that Americans will spend 12 billion this February 14 celebrating the very secular version of that word, “love.”

Forgive my cynicism, but it does seem to me that for 12 billion dollars, we ought to be doing love a bit better these days. It seems to me there is a lot of hostility out there. I do remember a simpler time.

I was a Valentine’s Day baby, a fact I rarely let anybody forget!

Every year my mother pulled out the same heart shaped cake pans and created a wonderful birthday cake with strawberry icing.

I have a sequence of snapshots that tell a significant part of my life’s story – from high chair to high school graduation – a strawberry Valentine cake and me.

As time passed, the territory on top of the cake grew more and more crowded with those symbols of the years.

The inevitable changes that come with growing up meant, of course, that one day I moved out of my childhood home.

I waved goodbye to the white picket fence and the tall Oak trees in the front yard. Rarely did I spend Valentine’s Day with my mother again.

Still, I could count on the Valentine in my mailbox year after year – always decorated with hearts, flowers, a poem, and loving personal prose in my mother’s familiar script.

Those love letters from her continued well into my forties until the day dementia began to take her from us.

It’s been at least 30 years since I received one of those special Valentine birthday letters, but the certainty of my mother’s love is as real as if she sent a card this very morning.

There is much written today in relationship books about the concept called “Love Banks,” and it seems we all have them.

The theory is that when we affirm others, and when we express to them that we love or appreciate them, we are making deposits into their “Love Banks.”

All human beings seem to operate better when their “account” is very high.

And those deposits reap wonderful results as the interest accumulates.

Our small investments in others can often shape lives and mean the difference in their ability to sink or swim when the storms of life blow.

We also empower them to make “love deposits” into the lives of others – because a life rich in love is a life that tends to be a generous life.

I’ve been thinking as this Valentine’s Day approaches of significant people who made deposits into my “Love Bank” over the years.

My one regret is that many of those VIPs in my life have already entered the pearly gates. I wish I had taken the time to write a few quick notes years ago just to say, “Thank you for the light you were to me.” 

Many, I feel sure, had no idea – and maybe I didn’t either at the time. Something about time seems to help us see some things more clearly. We see much later with the eyes of our hearts in ways our physical eyesight could never have seen!

I recall all the way back to the primary department of the First United Methodist Church. I sat in those tiny chairs around a flannel board and listened to Mrs. Jane Murphy share Bible stories.

She had a huge smile and she had a way of making each little person feel loved. If Mrs. Jane told me Jesus loved me, I knew it must be true because I could tell that Mrs. Jane Murphy was on a first name basis with Him.

You know what else?

I knew as a 5-year-old that I wanted to love other people the same way Mrs. Jane Murphy loved our little kindergarten class!

My long suffering Girl Scout leader, Sue Webb was another of those special people in my life.

She was indeed long suffering as she tried to pour the very best into our Girl Scout troop from our days as second graders right through high school.

Her patience was off the charts because there were so many times I am sure she thought we were not listening to a word she said. I seriously wonder why she put up with us for as long as she did. She loved us when we did not deserve to be loved at all!

My mother used to tell me that love was the most powerful force on earth, that it had the ability to heal broken hearts, open closed hearts and soften hard hearts.

She was right.

Those who love us with the real thing leave something of themselves behind, and in that sense, they are always and forever with us.

“Love never ends…” I Corinthians 13:8



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