In Kindergarten, Valentine’s Day was pure fun. We decorated cards with construction-paper hearts and doilies and wrote “I love you” in crayon across the top. I can almost smell the paste used to smear on the back of the hearts, the kind that would clump in so many places; the hearts never laid quite flat.
Later, hand-made cards were traded for the store-bought kind. School parties were the excitement of the day—candy hearts, chocolates, and secret admirers spying on their crush-interest for the week. I remember anxiously handing out Valentines, and noticing a curiosity—some children seemed more excited than others. Some seemed quiet, even left out of the fun. How could anyone not feel loved on Valentine’s Day?
Years have gone by since those grade-school days. Now I see adults lined up in the card aisle at the super-market, looking for the perfect message for their true love. My mind drifts to the loners from grade-school who seemed so unloved. I wonder how their lives turned out, if they ever felt loved.
“I love you” is a safe place. If you grew up in a family where it was said often and shown through acts of kindness, it feels like home. If you learned you are loved, that you matter to someone, you enjoy giving love back. You thrive on its reciprocal power. You bask in its healing properties. You are whole.
But if you lived in a home never hearing “I love you”, the words may not seem real. If kind words were passed up for neglect and abuse, love may seem like a fairy-tale meant for other people’s happily-ever-afters. If you gave love and never received it back you may not trust it. If you longed for love and never knew how to show it, you may feel cheated on special days designed for warmth of expression. An aisle in the super-market may have an abundance of red and pink cards, but you may think how none of them are for you.
Even if you grew up in a home where love was freely given, years of heartache and hardship through life can damage you. Sometimes the hurt and pain of life’s daily grind can leave you questioning whether love is real at all. Your doubts may propel you into a whirlwind of despair. “I am not really loved,” you may think. But this is not true. Pain and sorrow can mask the truth, but it can never change it. The author of the very first expression of love has written an endless number of love letters to you. You just need to know where to find them.
Great beyond comprehension is the love of God. He is our loving Eternal Father. Out of His love for us, He has given an eternal plan which … leads to exaltation in His kingdom.(President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Let Love Be the Lodestar of Your Life”, April 1989 General Conference)
Your first father told you “I love you”. He had all virtue, all goodness—all that is pure. But rather than keep it for himself he said “I love you” by giving you the chance to have it too. He created this world with his son, Jesus Christ, so you could grow like he did.
“Out of His love for us, He sent His Firstborn into the world, who, out of His own divine love, gave Himself as a sacrifice for each of us. His was an incomparable gift of love …”
(President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Let Love Be the Lodestar of Your Life”, April 1989 General Conference)
Your first father told you “I love you” by sending his only begotten son here too. Jesus was the only one perfect and pure enough to take on the trials, pain and mistakes in which you and I would suffer. Your first father knew this would mean unimaginable pain, but he also knew that greater good would come of it—the goodness of bringing you home. His sacrifice of his only begotten son was worth it, because you are worth it.
“Think of the purest, most all-consuming love you can imagine. Now multiply that love by an infinite amount—that is the measure of God’s love for you.”
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God”, October 2009 General Conference)
Jesus Christ told you “I love you” when he accepted the challenge to take on the iniquities. Somehow he was able to wash them clean so you would be as clean as he is. It takes a giant-sized love to say you would die for someone else. But Christ didn’t just say it, he did it. That makes a Christ-like love greater than any love professed on earth.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” (John 15:26)
Jesus Christ told you “I love you” when he said he would not leave you comfortless. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God—a gentle reminder of the love our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ have for you. Since they could not be with you personally, they sent this spirit to testify of their love. The warmth in your heart when you know something is good, the peace you feel when you make it through hard times, the still small voice that says you belong to something great.
Jesus Christ told you “I love you” when he gave you his words in scripture. If you loved someone with all your heart and you knew where a treasure was hidden, you’d give your loved one a map to find it. Jesus did just that with the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and with personal revelation that is meant especially for you.
We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask.
(President Thomas S. Monson, “We Never Walk Alone”, October 2013 General Conference)
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ told you “I love you” when they came to earth to restore the gospel in its fullness again. With modern-day prophets, apostles, and general authorities at the ready to usher in the second coming, good-hearted men and women are witnesses to this love, and are willing to remind you of your importance to your Father in Heaven and to Jesus Christ. Their words are words of truth, because their words say “I love you”.
Love is safe. It is a shelter from life’s painful blows. When we feel battered, when others seem to get the pretty cards and we are overlooked, remember who first loved you. Remember, heavenly love is the most pure, the most real, and the one truth that matters above all. You matter, because God loves you, today and always.
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.