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A Legacy of Love: A Valentine Homily


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I shared my annual Valentine's Day reflection here before, so I figured I'd do it again. I hope you enjoy reading it!


 Valentine's Day, and it's time for my annual digital Valentine Homily. In case you're new to this or have forgotten, I'll give you a rundown of how this tradition came to be. If reading this is a longtime tradition for you and you don't want a trip down memory lane, you can skip to the next paragraph. About 20 years ago in a faraway land known as Albion College, I was a woefully single college junior anticipating observing Valentine's Day as Black [insert day here]. However, on Valentine's Day I had a change of heart. I decided to use the day to to celebrate the love of family, of friends, and especially of God. I sent out an email to some friends to that effect. I decided to do the same thing the following year, and a tradition was born. It has since evolved into an annual reflection on my faith and life, with some kind of tie-in to Valentine's Day. Now on to the Homily.......

This Valentine's Day finds me reflecting on the life of my second father, my Swedish host father, who, as of last report, was in the hospital on the verge of death after a cerebral hemorrhage.  I'll spare you the long reflection I already shared on Facebook, but the fact is that facing the imminent death of someone I love who has lived a long and full life has lead me first to reflect on his legacy and then on my own.  Bruno loved his family and his community well, and he was loved well in return.  The question  I've been asking myself today is, what kind of legacy am I building? What I want to build is a legacy of love. I want to love my family  well and love my community well. I want to love people who are like me and I want to love people who are different from me. Above all, I want to love Jesus well. Jesus has already done and is still doing everything I want to do. He loved us before we loved Him. He loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins and defeat death for us even before we were born. He calls us to love others sacrificially as well.
So what does this have to do with you and with Valentine's Day? I myself have used this Valentine's Day to reflect on whether and how I am loving people well, and also how I am loved well. Often I fall short in one way or another. I lose patience with my kids and yell at them. I demonize people on the other side of issues I care about instead of trying to find out why they hold a position I think is so wrong and whether or not they might actually have something valuable to say (most of the time they do). From this Valentine's Day forward, with God's help, I want to do a better job of building a legacy of love. I wan to take the time to listen to my kids and care about what they care about, even if I'm tired and my first impression is that they care about incredibly ridiculous things. I want to express love to my husband the way he's programmed to receive it and not just in the ways it's easy for me to express it. I want to listen to people I disagree with and figure out if there are areas where we can find common ground. I want to care more about my local friends than I care about people on Facebook that I never see in person. I also want to remember that the fact that I am loved well can give me the strength to love others well and a model for loving others well. I'm married to an amazing man who puts up with all of my quirks and shows his love to me even when i'm being unlovable. I have two amazing kids who still love me after I've raised my voice for the tenth time that day. I have a family of origin and an extended family that I wish I could spend more time with because they're such incredible people. I know some of these things are true for many of you as well, though some of them aren't. Some of you are at a different stage in parenting because your kids are grown and out of the house. Some of you are single parents. Some of you aren't parents and wish you were, while others aren't parents and don't want to be. Some of you were raised by great parents while others of you don't even like think about the people who raised you. Some of you have a large circle of local friends while others feel lonely. Whatever stage you're in, however, whatever your background, I guarantee that there is someone who loves you well and someone you can love well. If you look back at your life and realize the legacy you're building is the one you want, that's great. Keep it up. Keep loving people well and being thankful for those who do the same for you. If you look at your life and realize you haven't loved the way you wish you had, it's not too late. Start today. Wherever your life has taken you and wherever it leads you in the future, I hope that the legacy you leave behind you is founded on love.
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