Valentine's Day at our house is really Valentine's week where I plan at least one special, out-of-the-ordinary treat daily. On the 14th the treat was heart shaped pancakes, a balloon taped to the chair, a card with a message from Dad, and a usually-not-seen-in-our-house candy bar.
But when we and our treat was summarily ignored by one and then unmistakably rebuffed as that child walked out the door for school, I was at first angry. How dare someone reject our efforts to share familial love in this way?
Having been at this journey of open hearts, open home for a while now, and finding a place at the table for many who have been abused, rejected, forgotten, and dismissed, it didn't take me long before I was able to look at the scene through my Father's eyes.
How many times does my Heavenly Father lavish His love on me and I reject Him and His gifts? It's too hard. I don't think I deserve it. The enemy convinces me that due to past sins I could never be worthy. Or Satan tells me that my current sins deem me unworthy. As I thought of this I remembered how many years it took me to accept the gifts of love and grace that God gives to me - no matter what I do or how I feel. I remembered the years of holding His love at bay because I didn't believe know that I was a beloved daughter. And I thought of the many times that those feelings still creep in.
I also remembered how God's gift of the Good Doctor has been part of my healing; to have someone who loves as unconditionally as a human can. But along the way, I too often pushed his attempts to show me that there was a place for me at his table and at God's, too. I struggle to hear his words of affirmation and believe that they are said with honesty and not with a hidden agenda. In the same way, I fight to believe that God means everything He says to me through His word and in the words spoken through Holy Spirit.
This Lenten season I want to spend time with God, hearing His whispers of love, seeing the gifts He gives to me every day, remembering who I am, and that I have a place at His table no matter what. Only in finding my place, am I able to offer that same unconditional love and a place at the table, with the desire to see the person inside as God sees them, even if they can't see it themselves.
So when we open our homes, when we give our hearts to others, when we truly invite them to a place at the table, we do so with grace, no matter the response. We have no expectations of the response or the outcome. The outcome isn't our responsibility but making a place for everyone is up to us.