2/13 Describe a time when you WERE ridiculously (maybe undeservingly) loved. Who loved you and why did you feel so valued?

I had never felt anything like that before. A piercing, out-of-body anxiety. The kind that makes you feel like you’re floating. And not in a romantic way. I felt like a floating buoy in the middle of ocean waves. Unanchored and unattached to anything secure. I bobbed up and down with the toss and turn of each new wave. I was directionless. Lost. Scared and uncharted.  So I did what any twenty-year-old sophomore in college would do. I called my dad.

Between ugly sobs all I could manage to say was, ‘Dad, I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel like myself and I don’t know what to do. I have no idea what to do.’  I felt like a six-year-old with blonde pigtails and a scraped knee, crawling into my dad’s lap. I was small and in pain and he was big and could make it all better. ‘Kristin’, he said, calmly, steadily- my name sounding known and familiar when spoken in his voice-

You have nine chips at your disposal. You can play a chip at any time, no questions asked, and if you blow through all nine chips, well, we can renegotiate. But you have the ability to play them when you think the time is right. When you do, I will show up for as long as you need and leave when the time is right. But it’s your choice. So, sweetie, do you want to play a chip?’

Kissing my newly discovered, badass, college-independence goodbye I wailed into my razor flip-phone, ‘YES. Yes, please dad. I want to play a chip.’  

Before too long, there was a knock at my apartment door. In a star-aligning moment, both of my roommates were in class when I flung the door open to see my dad standing there. Smiling, calm and just himself. He wrapped me up in a hug I can still feel if I close my eyes tightly enough. Immediately the darkness and cloudy anxiety lifted and passed. I felt known. Belonged to. Intimately cared for and pursued after.  I cried and cried, letting go of so much perceived control, replacing fears with the unmistaken love of a present father.

That day my dad got on a plane in Chicago and flew nearly two thousand miles to Phoenix. That ticket was most likely an astronomical same-day fare, he probably had some sort of meeting or presentation that afternoon that he missed, my mom must have had slack to pick up at home with my younger siblings in last-minute arrangements, but I never heard any of that. All I heard was reassurance and all I felt was daughter. That made me feel more loved than anything I had ever felt.

I was an athlete in college. I traveled from Crystal Lake, Illinois to Tempe, Arizona with the intention of being far away, fully able to discover and navigate an adventure on my own.  I thrived in being fiercely independent armed with my student-account debit card and my “I’m fine,” answer to every inquiry. Athletes aren’t always the best at admitting defeat or succumbing to weakness. We are a proud breed, with puffed up egos and distorted views of exactly what we can and cannot do. Distorted because we can do everything and we cannot do, well, nothing. But that day in my rented room, with tears puddling on my turquoise bedspread, my independence was shattered and my extreme needs spotlighted. In my desperation, my father- both heavenly and earthly, showed up and filled the gap. I felt seen, valued, precious and worth fighting for. I felt ridiculously loved. 

Praise the Lord for moments like this. God loves us crazily through the people in our lives. But since God is love... any act of great love always originates with Him. Behind all love is sacrifice. It's a conscious choice of 'she/he over me.' My dad sacrificed his time, his money, his schedule, his work, and the rest of my family for me that day. I felt so loved because of it. 

So when you hear the words, Jesus loves you, it doesn't have to sound questionable or like a Sunday school song. You can rest in the truth of that sentence because at the root of Jesus and his purpose is sacrifice. For you. For me. For us. For everyone. Sacrificial love is true love. So this Valentine's Day- let's love someone the Jesus-way. Sacrificially. 

Share below when you felt most loved or open up with your people today. We will all become newer, better versions of ourselves when we see sacrificial love and in turn, love others sacrificially.