Welcome to Fruitful–we love practical ideas about how to live our gifts with intentionality.
I have the privilege of watching three young children a couple days a week. This week, as Valentine’s Day parties approached, each one of them took the time to thoughtfully prepare Valentine’s cards for every person in their class–making sure that every card was well suited to the person who would receive it, and completing the project with a specific sentence of encouragement. I loved the elementary school days when I got to prepare a paper bag mailbox to receive 24 mini letters from my classmates. I enjoyed going through each Valentine and matching them to the sender. I was joyful walking around my classroom and depositing my own cards in my classmates mailboxes.
For some, Valentine’s Day has become a painful reminder of what they feel is missing from their lives, it can be a source of isolation. Others feel overwhelmed and jaded by the unreasonable expectations that seem to accompany the day. Here’s to celebrating with the spirit of an elementary school student! Let’s find joy in the extra excuse to show thoughtfulness and care, and to celebrate all the people in ours lives who were made to love and be loved. Here are 5 ways to love your neighbor this Valentine’s Day!
1. Make a meal together. Everybody brings a little something to share, and soon you are eating together and sharing more than just the food. A shared meal brings people together. The act of creating a meal out of shared ingredients is a powerful metaphor for the value of collaboration. We create beautiful and necessary things when we each offer what we have. In this example we create the very practical means of satisfying one of our unifying needs: the need to be nourished. It’s a good reminder that we are all fragile and all in need of sustenance. Potluck style dinners are also wonderful ways to bring new friends into the fold!
2. PDA. Also known as, Public Displays of Affection- a term that usually refers to a little kissy-kissy-la-la all over the town, but in this case refers to a creative way to use words of affirmation to show some love to the people you live in community with. Cut out some strips of paper and grab a writing utensil. If you want to get super festive, you can whip out the classic tear-drop-symmetry trick and produce some heart-shaped paper strips. On one of the strips write “I love you (friend’s name) because…”. Attach a string to the paper strip with some reasons you love and value the person you’ve listed. In a sneaky ninja fashion post this creation on said friend/family members door. Leave an envelope with extra paper strips, pen, and some tape, so that other people can add to the encouragement train!
3. Give someone a call. I know that the telephone has been around since 1876, but the fact that this invention has the capacity to connect people who are separated by oceans and timezones remains astonishing and wonderful. Sometimes just receiving a voicemail or seeing someone’s name show up unexpectedly on a missed calls list is enough to make me feel encouraged and loved. Set aside some time to catch up with a loved one who lives far away! If you don’t get a hold of them right away, at least they’ll be left with a little reminder that they were on your mind.
4. Plan a surprise for someone else. It does not have to be extravagant! Something as simple as remembering someone’s favorite coffee order and delivering it to their office early, or mailing a handmade card via the good ole’ snail mail can make someone’s day. You could take a friend on a day date, and plan activities with your friend in mind! Does your friend love hiking? Take them on a hike! Does your friend love people watching? Get a treat at a coffee shop and catch up while you take in all the beautiful and mysterious people that surround you. The possibilities are endless!
5. Stretch the Circle of who you share the love with a little wider. Brainstorm ways you can offer encouragement to people who are not immediately in your circle of family or friends! Write cards for people in the armed service who are stationed overseas. Make treats for your local retirement community residents! Take the time to share a conversation with someone you might typically walk past without acknowledging! Remember that we love because God first loved us, and thus we are never operating at a deficit. We are not lacking love to share, but rather have an ever abundant well to draw from as we go out and spread the love around!