What I Learned on Valentine’s Day


It was about 1980. On February 14, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist, Dr. Valentine (yes, really!). to monitor the rheumatoid arthritis that I'd had for nearly ten years. These appointments often left me discouraged at the reminder of the seriousness of my disease.

That day, as I returned home, discouraged, I found a long, white box lying on my bed. Curious, I opened it. A dozen long-stemmed roses! Who could have sent them? It was from my brother!

How did he know today would be difficult? Perhaps he suspected I wouldn’t be getting any flowers (or anything else) from a guy. So he decided to make my day.

Immediately my mood changed. I felt loved and cared about as I arranged the roses in a vase.

I learned that a thoughtful gesture, especially unexpected, can bring pleasure to one having a challenging day.

I learned that a thoughtful gesture, especially unexpected, can bring pleasure to one having a challenging day.

It was probably only a year or two later, I learned my next significant lesson. By now I was in my mid-twenties with no romantic relationships on the horizon.

I decided to do something different. Instead of having a pity party on February 14, I would minister to someone else. But who? I decided to send cards to some widows from church. The three cards sent prior to Valentine’s Day brought me joy as I thought how a handful of widows might be encouraged a bit by my words.

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​​That year I learned that ministering to the needs of others, even with something as simple as a heart-felt card, brings joy and distracts from one's own struggles.

​​That year I learned that ministering to the needs of others, even with something as simple as a heart-felt card, brings joy and distracts from one's own struggles.

The final lesson I want to share came in 1990. That Valentine’s Day I was in the hospital--for a happy reason. Our younger son had been born late Saturday night, February 10.

By Wednesday, February 14, I was doing well. Walking the halls, eating, trying to nurse the baby. It was a relief (and short respite, although I didn’t know it at the time) from the C-section Saturday night followed by an emergency surgery Sunday morning when the medical staff couldn’t get a blood pressure on me.

But by Valentine’s Day, I was healing and hoping to get home soon. The events of the next few weeks served, in part, to strengthen this lesson. (In short, by the next day my condition began deteriorating, followed by exploratory surgery the day after, and being flown to University of Michigan Hospital a few days later. While there, I had another (very risky) surgery and was finally released about a month after giving birth.)

I learned that the things of this world—possessions, accomplishments, education and intelligence—are nothing. Faith in God and relationships with others are what one values when death is near and the best doctors around can’t help.

I learned that the things of this world—possessions, accomplishments, education and intelligence—are nothing. Faith in God and relationships with others are what one values when death is near and the best doctors around can’t help.

We think of Valentine’s Day as a day of love. In God’s love, mercy, and wisdom, He allows us to learn valuable lessons throughout our years.

Have you learned a valuable lesson you can share so that others can benefit?

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