This Valentine’s Day, my heart returns to February 14 2002, when I watched my daughter Victoria’s seven year-old eyes slowly scanned the Valentine loot scattered on the kitchen table. Pushing aside the small white envelopes that bore her name, treat-filled plastic bags, and the wrappings of the candy that didn’t survive the ride home, she reached for the large, red, heart-shaped box.
“And who is this for?” she asked, her voice filled with hope that she was the intended recipient.
“Sorry. I bought it for your Dad,” I replied while thinking that Victoria’s choice of the Whitman sampler was pretty impressive.
“May I open it?” she boldly questioned.
“Well…okay,” I answered after deciding that Michael wouldn’t mind. By the time he returned home from his business trip, he’d barely notice it anyway.
I continued, “Just don’t lose the little map inside. It lets you know where each type of candy is located.”
My husband doesn’t like surprises. With regards to candy and to life, he wants to know what’s in store for him before he sinks his teeth into it.
“Okay, I won’t lose it,” she happily promised as I left the kitchen.
Only moments after she ripped the cellophane from the candy that it had been protecting, Victoria found me in the study. Her solemn expression informed me that her next words had been carefully chosen.
“I didn’t lose the map,” she quietly began, “but I dropped the box and all of the candy fell out and I don’t know where any of it belongs.”
In her defense, I never told her not to drop the candy, only to guard the map. She followed me into the kitchen where we began to pick up the candy. (You can eat off of my kitchen floor. Not because it’s clean, but because there’s usually lots of food there.)
The bounty of strewn sweets began to dwindle as we attempted to return each piece to its proper place. It was a difficult task, except for the cashews. It’s easy to spot a nut, even when it is covered in chocolate and trying to masquerade as a candy.
And so it is with life.
Sometimes we drop the box. The pieces of our lives are then in disarray and suddenly we don’t know where anything belongs. Spouses, children, jobs, ministries, unspoken dreams, friends, and even nutty relatives (Did I write that, or did I just think it?) viciously vie for our attention.
It is then that I remember Psalm 138:8: “The LORD will work out his plans for my life–for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” I cry out to my faithful Father and listen with gratitude to the One Who takes the sweet, but scattered portions of my life and returns them to their proper place.