Many years ago I heard this version of the origin of Valentine’s Day.
Valentinus was in prison, scheduled to be executed for being a follower of Jesus Christ. The jailer, noticing that Valentinus was an educated man, asked him to teach his blind daughter, Julia. I don’t know what he taught her—probably how to read and write. He certainly shared his faith with her, for it is reported that one day Julia asked, “Jesus made the blind to see, so won’t He do that for me too?” Valentinus said He would, and as he prayed with her there in his cell, Julia’s sight was restored. Not long after that, Valentinus was taken out and killed, but he left in his cell a note for Julia reminding her how much Jesus loved her. He signed it, “Your Valentinus.”
I don’t know whether that legend is true, but I do know that Jesus has opened many blind eyes—literal ones and otherwise. In my own case, it has not been like that. Though my 4% is still hanging on, there are some days when it’s downright frustrating.
One night I was relieving Hedy out by my mailbox. Standing there, looking up, I said, “Papa, I really miss seeing stars.” He replied, “In Heaven you will see wonders. You won’t miss a thing.” Then He added gently, “Will you do this for Me?”
Do what? Trust Him with my life no matter what happens with my eyes. Of course I told Him yes. Why would I want what is not His best choice for me?
When I was a baby Christian, I read Joni Erickson’s book—her disastrous dive into shallow water, the broken neck, the Striker Frame, the search for restoration and the prayers that went unanswered. I take it back. They were answered. He said, “No.”
If He had said, “Yes,” would her life as a quadriplegic young woman painting with a brush in her teeth have been something I admired, even envied? There’s something extraordinary about a life lived for the glory of God that knocks your socks off. I wanted to be like that—and I am. People envy my life, the aging blind lady who can no longer read much better than a four year-old. So much for my aspirations to be a rock star! I have something so much better. I can give hope—real hope that does not disappoint—to the people around me. I can show them that life can be full and rich even if you can no longer see. You do not need to be afraid of catastrophic loss. God will get you through. And if you trust Him, your life will be better than if you were the way you were before.
On this Valentine’s Day, Hedy is 4. She is God’s love letter to me—evidence of His wisdom, His best choice for me, though I didn’t think so. For the first year we struggled with one another. We weren’t in harmony and didn’t even particularly like each other. Now, two years after the gift of Hedy, I am so grateful that God gave me a dog who would challenge the weaknesses in my life and cause me to grow because of choices I had to make if I really wanted us to be a working team.
In your life, too, there can be times when you don’t feel His loving care because what you have isn’t what you want. I assure you—you can trust Him. He has your best in mind. And He loves you more than you can ask or even think.
May the assurance of God’s love for you be obvious to you in all His gifts to you. And Happy Birthday, Hedy!
Mary E. TrimbleFebruary 14, 2011 - 9:53 AM
Happy Birthday to sweet little Hedy! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I love today’s message, Carolyn. As a Christian, I’ve had my doubts and frustrations, too. Sometimes it seems like I’m on my own. Relief isn’t always instant. But when I look back, I realize that God has always been with me, in his own way. When I used to go on Red Cross jobs–hurricanes, tornadoes, etc., I always prayed that I would make a difference and asked God to help me find ways. Then, once I arrived, there would be this terrible mess, my stomach would clench up and I’d think it was all so hopeless. But then I’d feel an inner strength, a knowing feeling that it would come together, and it always did.
I appreciate your sharing your faith, Carolyn. Thank you.
Carolyn Wing GreenleeFebruary 14, 2011 - 10:17 AM
Thank you, Mary. I really debated whether to send this out to different groups, such as writers or dog lovers who aren’t looking for stories about my encounters with God. It isn’t always appreciated these days because people think you’re being pushy. But it IS my website and I want to share my heart authentically, including my faith, which is the most important part of my life, especially since I’ve gone through so many deaths in the last few years. It strips everything down to essentials. I’m no longer looking for acclaim. I’m just doing my job, hoping someone will get something out of what I write—and live—and be the richer for it.
kathie fong yonedaFebruary 14, 2011 - 9:43 AM
Aloha C & Hedy:
When I was teaching in Dublin, I went to a church which has the “heart” of St. Valentinus in its possession. The volunteer at the church told me the story of Valentinus, which is very similar to the story you told. It was, in fact, the miracle of Julia’s restored sight that gave Valentinus his sainthood many decades after he was put to death. I have no doubt that Hedy is your “Valentinus” & that you are “Hedy’s Valentine” as well. The special bond you both share is unbreakable, just as the special bond that Valentinus shared with Julia.
Happy Valentine’s Day to both of you!
Carolyn Wing GreenleeFebruary 14, 2011 - 10:06 AM
Kathie, thank you so much! You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this legend, and for your confirmation of God’s message of love to both Hedy and me in my Valentine Girl.