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drew-coffman-182525.jpgI carefully laid the red crepe blouse with its long pleated sleeves in my suitcase then covered it with a plastic cleaner’s bag, a trick my mom had taught me years ago for wrinkle free packing.  Then I remembered the beautiful turquoise jewelry my husband had given me this past Christmas and quickly added a black flowing top with black pants to my growing stash of items.  The black would showcase the jewelry beautifully and hopefully reflect how much I appreciated my husband’s thoughtful gift.  

I threw in a couple of nightgowns, wishing I had found time to shop for something new and appealing in the lingerie department, grabbed a couple of bathing suits, my flip flops, a cover up, a wide brimmed hat and I was done.  I tried to remember the last time we had gone away for Valentine’s Day and honestly the ONLY time I remembered having done that was over twenty years ago when our children were young and I had gotten a sitter and surprised my husband with an overnighter at a fancy downtown hotel.

I wanted to look my best for the one who had captured my heart long ago.

Admittedly, even after being married for forty-four years, there’s just something extra exciting about celebrating this “ holiday of love” in a different surrounding.  So I was taking special care selecting the outfits, the jewelry and even the shoes I would wear.  I wanted to look my best for the one who had captured my heart long ago.

With my packing completed, I left the house with a checklist of errands and details to attend to before our trip.  Even while I checked off chores, my mind kept thinking how faded my bathing suits had gotten throughout last summer and how the cover up I had packed was the same one I had used for the past three years.  It would have been nice to have new swimwear for this trip.  It was, after all, a Valentine’s extravaganza!  But there wasn’t time for that kind of shopping so I finished my errands and headed home and to bed.

Awaking in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep, I tiptoed to our family room to spend some time with the Lord.  As He is so faithful to do, He arrested my heart and aligned my thoughts with these words which stared back at me from the pages in my hands . . .

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:12-14)

Red dress with gold jewelry?  Black dress with turquoise jewelry?   Did it really matter?  I love that the Holy Spirit reminded me that THE MOST IMPORTANT things I could choose to wear on Valentine’s Day (or any day) were not external, but rather internal qualities of the heart and the spirit.  Compassion.  Kindness.  Humility.  Meekness.  Patience.  And, of course, the perfect accessory – LOVE.

For every magazine with beauty tips and every commercial advertising something to buy or use for our external selves I wish there were a reminder to check the loveliness of our spirits.

Had I paid as much attention to preparing those things for my trip as I had my wardrobe?  And had I considered what would be most appealing to the lover of my soul?  The words of I Peter 3:3-4 came to mind.

“Do not let our adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  

My husband still remembers what I was wearing the day we met on our college campus.  (It was red!)  So obviously the visual was and still is important to him.  However if there had not been a beauty of the heart or a kindness of spirit beneath that ensemble, I am quite certain his interest would have quickly waned.  Hopefully through the years he has seen me grow in attributes like wisdom, patience, faithfulness, and self-control.  

Obviously I want his eyes to light up when he looks at me across the table at dinner tomorrow night.  But just as importantly, I want him to be able to say of me the words found in Proverbs 31:11-12, “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he shall have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

Being a woman of substance and worth means relying on more than superficial beauty.  A dependable character, an expanding intelligence and a sense of humor are all needed for the long haul.  A rich and rewarding relationship just can’t be built on the shifting sand of physical allure alone.  For every magazine with beauty tips and every commercial advertising something to buy or use for our external selves I wish there were a reminder to check the loveliness of our spirits.

Wondering what to wear this Valentine’s Day?  So am I.  But I’m going to start by putting on a smile first thing  and then hoping for the garment described in Proverbs 31:25,  “Strength and dignity are her clothing. . .”  These are wardrobe pieces I can’t find in a store or by shopping online.  But they are the ones which will keep me beautiful year after year.  And that, my friends, is fashion worth finding.