I was never a real fan of Valentine’s Day growing up. In junior high, with uncontrollable acne, and nails I bit to the quick, I was the “ugly duckling” compared to the other girls who garnered most of the boys’ attention. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in on Valentine’s Day. One year, the student council thought it would be a great fundraising idea to have students pay twenty-five cents to buy a rose to give to their “Valentine”. All day long, roses were given to, you guessed it, the most popular girls and guys in the school, and all the ugly ducklings, myself included, went home empty-handed and heart broken.
When I became a mom, I was determined my kids felt loved and honoured not just on Valentine’s Day but everyday. I made a point of telling them how much they were loved, and that God loved them. When those challenging teen years came along and they faced those disappointing Valentine’s Days with no cards from any admirers at school, my husband, Charles, bless his heart, always came home with bouquets of flowers for his girls. He presented with great fan fare, a larger one for me, and two smaller ones for his daughters. For years he was their one and only Valentine! I too, always made sure my husband, son, and my girls got a chocolate heart-shaped treat from me.
This past week, we picked up my daughter’s wedding gown. The wedding invitations will likely go out in the next few weeks. Slowly, but surely, the wedding plans are coming together. A year ago, on February 1st, Carmen’s handsome “Prince Charming” asked her to marry him. On July 18, they will be wed. I remember seven years ago, they had only been dating a short while, when he surprised her with a huge bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day. It was the first time we met Jack and to say he left quite an impression on all of us would be an understatement. I snapped a picture of the happy, young couple just before my sweet husband came home with his usual Valentine’s flowers for his girls. Up until that day, he had always been her Valentine. When he saw Carmen holding Jack’s bouquet, he looked slightly embarrassed and stoically shook hands with Jack. Almost as an afterthought, my husband then shyly presented Carmen with his small bouquet of daisies. Although she appreciated his gesture, she only had eyes for Jack. Charles’ mannerism showed me that his Father’s heart was just a little broken. It was obvious another one of his girls had found their forever Valentine, and he was no longer the most important man in her life. It’s a tough realization for any good father.
As we have been planning her wedding, there’s a poignant song that my husband thought might be a fitting one for their father-daughter dance: “ I Loved Her First”. I well up with tears every time I listen to it. The love a father has for his precious child, all the memories he’s made with her, goes hand in hand with the knowledge that one day he will trust another man to hold her heart from that day forward. I know my husband’s tender heart, and it will be an emotional day when he walks his “Baby Girl” up to the altar on her wedding day.
I don’t know if it was intentional when the lyrics were written, but when I hear that song I can’t help thinking about how our Heavenly Father loved our daughter even before Charles did! It puts a whole new spin on the song! God loved us all first!
Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to remember the heights and depths of our Father’s Love for His children. My children are blessed to have a wonderful, Godly father, who always places their needs ahead of his own. They benefit from his wisdom, his practical advice, and his persistent prayers. They know their father has experienced God’s Love, and that Love influences everything Charles does.
As we celebrate this special day that celebrates LOVE, I wish all the young couples who will be wed in 2020 a happy day today and a blessed wedding day. I also wish the very best to all those dads who will dance with their daughters on their wedding day. I understand your pain and your joy. I especially wish MY Valentine of 42 years a wonderful day! Happy Valentine’s Day, Charles!