Each year on Valentine’s Day, many of us busy ourselves with finding just the right gift to give to the special someone in our life. We do this to show our love and express our deep affections to those who are important to us. We give and receive trinkets of love, cards and sweet confections, and yet there are some of us who spend a great deal of our time being preoccupied with thoughts and emotions spiraled around the many images of love we see represented by the symbol of a heart.
In the Bible the heart is not simply a symbol and far more than the organ that pumps blood through the body; it’s a metaphor for a person’s innermost core or spiritual center. “The Heart” is so to speak, shorthand for “The Total Person,” for “one’s whole being or whole self” The heart is the wellsprings of life, designed by our God our Creator to contain the love of God which is our greatest gift ever. God sees, and searches the hidden depths of the human heart.
So my reflection today is how sweet it is to LOVE…Valentine’s Day should not be limited to the love we receive but measured by the love we have and give which includes loving ourselves. It is very important that we take the time daily to value, appreciate and celebrate who we are and love ourselves. To some of us this may sound a bit selfish at first, but God’s desire for us is to know and experience the love of our Creator. This Love teaches us to love who we are, accept who we are as persons created in love so that we can be loved and love others as God loves us.
As African-Americans loving ourselves so that we might love others demands that we embrace and appreciate our unique, individual beauty. God created us with a wealth of diversity, a people descendent of African Kings and Queens endowed with the beauty, strength, creativity and wisdom which is the foundation of our ancestral heritage. We are created by the Creator with a loving purpose and destiny. We are of many hues having skin kissed with colors from ivory to mocha to berry brown and honey gold. We are fashioned and sculpted some short, some tall with wide hips, small hips, round hips and all. Some are divinely blessed with full lips, thin lips, from “baby got back” to no back at all. If we have high cheek bones, a broad nose, and almond shaped eyes we are still designed and created in the image of God. So if you know all this and still cannot resist buying into the social lies about who you really are … My challenge to each of us is to remember this… Mark 12:30 says to Love God with all your heart, all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength!
Jesus said “love your neighbor as you love yourself;” clearly making the case for our reality, that we are not fully capable of loving or caring or advocating for others if we do not first apprehend the love for ourselves. So whether you give or receive flowers, candy or cards this Valentine’s Day, I encourage us all to look again closely at the reflection in the mirror and know that you are loved by God. Know that each day you have is another day to love yourself and those around you. Celebrate who you are, embrace the gift that is YOU! And the life you have already been given, then give someone else the sweet gift of love. A gentle hug, a simple smile or an encouraging word to let them know that they too are loved… and it will make life twice as sweet.
Make this Valentine’s Day different and enlarge your territory for love. Let us be reminded that this love is YOU! Love yourself
TOKENS of LOVE
“I have learned not to worry about love; But to honor its coming with all my heart.”
– Alice Walker
“I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”
-Henry Ward Beecher
“Love is but the discovery of ourselves in others, and the delight in the recognition.”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Rev. Antoinette D. Kemp the Georgia Consultant for the National Black Church Initiative and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in Washington, DC. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She earned an MDiv degree from Columbia Theological Seminary, and currently serves as a Corporate/Industrial Chaplain, for Cobb-Vantress, Inc. (a division of Tyson Corporation) Rev. Kemp is the Executive Director for African Pilgrimages Inc.,
The views, opinions, and perspectives expressed in by guest and consultant bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, its state affiliates, it member organizations, or the National Black Church Initiative. The Religious Coalition is committed through its National Black Church Initiative to faithfully, prayerfully breaking the silence on issues related to sex, sexuality and religion.