As is my usual custom, I went shopping for yellow roses for Janet to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I know that red roses are supposed to be the color for love – and that yellow signifies friendship, but Janet has always had her heart set on yellow and so, for the past 45 years or so, that is what I have done…
But what has changed throughout the decades is the availability of yellow roses. It seems that they are becoming more rare and all the usual places that I have ordered them for years no longer carry yellow – everything is either red or pink. And we already know that YELLOW is the color I want to give Janet.
So I visited several floral shops in the days leading up to Valentine’s day and few yellow roses were to be found. Finally, on the day before Valentine’s Day, I found my yellow roses – and they were awesome. I had the shop add some other accent items to the bouquet and was getting ready to head home with them. After all, Janet likes her flowers a day in advance – that way, she can enjoy them all day on Feb. 14th.
As I was getting read to pay the bill, a kindly older lady in line behind me remarked how beautiful the flowers were. We struck up a short conversation and she lamented that in all the years she had been married, her husband never got her the color roses she wanted, which is why she was standing there ready to purchase her own bouquet. I was somewhat surprised as I really start thinking about this annual purchase well in advance and if there is one thing that you don’t usually find in florist shops in mid-February, it’s women buying themselves flowers.
Yes, I know that there may be several women out there who buy flowers for themselves, but that’s not the way we do it in our home. And I have to admit that the dozen this woman held in her arms were quite beautiful – off-white with tinges of pink around the edges. In fact, I think it was the only bouquet they had of that particular color!
Maybe it was the look on her face – or the forlorn way that this woman recounted how her husband, in all those years, had never presented her with the flowers she adored. Whatever the reason, here she was, alone in line, getting her purse out to pay for her own Valentine’s bouquet. Somewhere, deep inside me, I knew that I wanted to buy her those roses… The whole thing just didn’t seem right to me… So… I offered to add them on my bill and asked the clerk to ring up her flowers as well.
I wasn’t trying to embarrass the lady I had just met, but she was taken by surprise and didn’t know how to respond. I continued that I didn’t want her to feel awkward, but if she was okay with it, I would like to pay for her roses. I wasn’t forceful – just offering. The two employees overheard my offer and both of them encouraged her to accept the flowers. Then, if she felt compelled to do anything, she could pay in forward and brighten someone else’s day.
That worked! I left the store knowing that Janet would be thrilled and that I had helped someone else have a better Valentine’s Day. Of course, I confessed to Janet that for the first time in decades, I had purchased flowers for another woman! We both laughed and experienced the joy that comes with doing something unexpected for someone else.
The verse for tonight, especially appropriate as we think about a day dedicated to love, is from the first epistle of John. The apostle tells us, in 1 John 4:11-12, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” My encouragement this evening is that God’s love for us is the model of behavior that He expects us to follow with others. My prayer is that we all remember that there are those folks out there who would really appreciate someone taking the time to brighten their day with an unexpected surprise – an act of kindness. In fact, I think all of us would like that! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…