Right now as I write this letter, there are faces flashing across my mind. There’s I—and S— and J— and M— and C— and G— and S— and M— and K— and J— and S— and D— and E— and L— and A— and N— and P— and C— and M— and D— and C— and R— and so many others. This view is not unfamiliar to my mind – I think of you almost every night as I wind down to go to bed.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and there will be many of you who receive candy or chocolate or perhaps even the coveted “Singing Valentine” from an admirer. You’ll blush or roll your eyes or giggle behind your hands to a friend. Many of you will feel special and valuable, all because a friend spent a dollar to send you some corn syrup and a paper heart.
But there are some of you that will not receive anything tomorrow. You’ll watch as the girl in the seat beside you has three secret admirers and your heart will hurt because you have, once again, been overlooked. You’ll anticipate a greeting being laid on your desk because you bought them for all your friends only to find that no one has returned the favor. You’ll feel like a fool.
And worst of all, there are some of you that will feel pushed aside not only by your peers, but by your families. Your parents will be in a rush, their minds filled with the stress of the bills or your little sister’s sickness, and they’ll forget to even wish you a happy Valentine’s Day. For some of you the celebration of happiness only serves as a reminder that your parents now exchange insults instead of kisses. Love that once seemed so solid is now absent, and your security has been replaced with fear.
Some of you will be angry tomorrow – not because you have been deeply wounded by that special someone, but because you have seen the way hope in love has crushed your mom. You’ve seen how she has been hurt by men time after time and you’ve begun to hate them too. Some of you will feel alone even if you receive a valentine because it reminds you of your mom’s betrayal and your dad’s brokenness.
Oh my dear sweet students, do not despair. Do not come undone because you are insecure or ignored or angry. Do not believe that your worth comes from the notes you get or the chocolates you receive or how much the others prove their affection. You are loved.
You are loved with your pimples and with your braces; you are loved with your corny jokes and your crude comments. Dear student, you are loved even when you feel invisible and when the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You are precious and you are valuable and you are special and you are treasured and you are dear.
Sweet student, I am excited to see you every day. Yes, you. I may give you a detention or send an email home or rebuke you for an inappropriate comment, but I love you. You may feel invisible or think I don’t notice you because you never get picked as a volunteer, but you are so dear to my heart. I wake up and am excited to go to work because I know that today I get to share life with you. I carry you in my heart almost at every moment.
I want so desperately to see you succeed. I want you to follow your dreams, to do great things, to become doctors and teachers and pastors and pilots and Marines and faithful moms and dads. I want you to know how smart you are and to understand what gifts you’ve been given. I want you to live life to the fullest, to be free and full of life. I want you to not give up in the face of difficulty, to be joyful in the midst of pain, and to laugh at the days to come. I want you to be bold and courageous and humble and kind. I want your good.
But as big as my love is for you (and believe me, it’s really big), my love is nothing compared to God’s love. Precious student, I would die for you if I had to. I would give my life for you. If there were a bullet to be taken I’d be the first one to volunteer. But my wishes are nothing compared to His action.
Christ did give His life for you. He came and he took more than a bullet, He took the cross. He not only imagines good plans for you – He has good plans for you. He sacrificed his life so that you could be free and fully alive. Oh how He delights in how He made you – how precious you are to Him. And His love has and forever will be unfailing. He works all things out for His glory and your joy. He rejoices in doing you good. He loves you with everlasting love.
Dear, precious, wonderful student, don’t sell yourself short. This Valentine’s Day don’t be content with a piece of paper or sweet treats. Instead, see the One that won’t fail you, the One that won’t let go, the One that loves you even in your most angry and selfish and broken moments. See Him clearly and accept His love. Let Christ love you not with sugar or rhymes, but with His life and His blood. Abide in love that won’t let you go, that whispers ‘you are precious. You are somebody. You are mine. Forever.‘
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear one.