The brother overlooked the abundant riches and gifts that the father freely gave him his whole life. So what am I overlooking when I focus on the gifts I have not been given? I am not sure that I am finished answering this question, but I can give you one example. Marriage is a picture of Christ's love for the church—of Jesus' love for me. Yes, it is a beautiful, multi-dimensional reflection of our relationship with God, but it is a picture. The true relationship marriage points to is one I already have. I want to be pursued, yet I have already been pursued by the King of the universe. The brother elevated a ring, robe and roast over the real riches that he already owned. They were examples—tokens of the father's love. When I focus on the earthly relationship I don't have, I am being completely ungrateful for the love I already have—the only love that truly satisfies. It is like going on a dream vacation to Hawaii and yet getting angry that I didn't receive a postcard of the trip!

So does this mean that I should stuff my longings and pretend like Valentine's Day isn't painful? I don't think so, but I also want to take care not to fall into the trap of bitterness like the brother did. I can actually celebrate that which I do not have because it is just a shadowy picture of that which is already mine! I am not overlooked. I am the apple of his eye! I am not unappreciated. I am cherished! I am not unloved. I am fully known and infinitely loved! 

Bring on the conversation hearts and flowers! Cheer on the romance of others! Go watch Pride & Prejudice! Let's just remember that while celebrating what we do not have, we can be profoundly grateful for the greater gift that is ours.


Cheryl Boyd is on staff with Cru where she currently serves in launching a new ministry among young professionals in cities across the country. For 12 years she called Russia home as she helped give national leadership to the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Follow Cheryl on Twitter @cheryloboyd.