It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Are you seeing red yet?

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What? February is halfway over already? Are you seeing red every place you look? 

  • Red Roses
  • Red Candies 
  • Red Hearts
  • Red Ribbons
  • Go Red for Women 
  • Wear Red for American Heart Month 

February has traditionally been a time to focus on feelings of the heart (i.e. Valentine’s Day), but now it’s also about heart health. This month has been named American Heart Month, established to raise awareness about heart health and fight heart disease. This is a good thing! It’s critical to support a strong and healthy heart. However, it’s also important to nourish a loving heart. 


Anger, although justified at times, can really get out of control and wreak havoc on our hearts both physically, emotionally and spiritually. How often over the course of a month, week or day do you "see red?" I frequently hear people (not myself of course) say that someone or something makes their "blood boil." 

Seeing red is a vivid English idiom, defined in the Cambridge Dictionary of Idioms as: “to become very angry." To make one's blood boil carries the same meaning. Sadly, there seems to be an epidemic of seeing red these days. Just look at all of the gun violence that is continually in the news. And don’t get me started on the presidential hopefuls! I am truly tired of hearing how angry people are. Enough already! How about a little love?

I challenge you this month to "see love" and to focus on those people and things that warm your heart, not those things that cause your blood to boil!

On Valentine's Day, we're encouraged to show our love and affection toward our spouses, significant others, children, parents, friends, and even pets! Although it seems like a marketing gimmick to sell more stuff, it's actually quite wonderful to be reminded to love one another. 

Of course it's nice to receive flowers or chocolates, but that's just one way we show our affection. There are other ways that won’t cost a penny, or at least not much. This Valentine’s Day (or any day) think about showing love by:

  • Writing a poem for a loved one.
  • Calling up someone you haven't spoken to in a while.
  • Giving words of encouragement to your spouse or children.
  • Forgiving someone. 
  • Visiting someone in the hospital.

By showing love to others, we benefit as well! It's good for the heart and the soul to think and say kind words, and to reach out to the lonely and marginalized. By loving others more, we are able to love ourselves more. Oftentimes we approach love all topsy-turvy. We begin to think if we can just love ourselves more, then we could love others better.

However, many experts in the field of psychology have reached the conclusion that too much self-esteem or self-love is more of a problem in society than too little. If we hold ourselves in such high esteem, we tend to find others lacking. We become judgmental and critical. We lose the ability to have compassion and empathy. 

I know that my tendency (and that of the human race) is to look out for Number One (me). I am drawn toward self- centeredness every moment of every day! It's hard for me to suddenly lay aside my plans for the day just because someone else needs me to do something that honestly I'd rather not do. I get angry when someone won't let me merge into traffic or snags the parking place I was eying. I think, "Didn't they notice that I was here first? I deserve that spot!" Those moments expose the harsh reality of my tendency to believe I am more important than anyone else and that others should acquiesce to my wishes, whether they are spoken or merely thought.

When it's all about me, and I don't get my way, I start to SEE RED! My BLOOD BOILS! Oftentimes, the red spews out of my mouth in the form of hurtful words. I'm reminded of the verse from Matthew 15:16-18: "Don't you understand yet?" Jesus asked. "Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart, and that’s what defiles you.

Wow! The words that come out of my mouth show the true state of my heart. "I don't know how that slipped out!" I sometimes say. Jesus tells me that it slipped out because my heart was overflowing with those thoughts. Not a pretty sight!

Yes, I want to eat healthy food that nourishes my body and prevents heart disease, but I also want to digest healthy words of wisdom to nourish my heart and soul. I need some of God's medicine--his words--to heal my heart. The psalmist sings, "His words are like honey from the honeycomb." They soothe and encourage, but they also convict and correct me. 

When I start to see red, I need to take a moment to look into my heart. Am I upset because the world is not revolving around me as I'd like it to? Am I serving others or just expecting others to serve me? What am I feeding my heart and mind--angry TV talk shows or stories of grace and redemption?

Changing the heart is not easy. It requires discipline like anything else. Accept the challenge! Feed your heart a healthy diet of kindness and let it overflow to others around you. 


If you haven’t yet started a Lenten devotional, check out some of my recommendations here.

References:

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/08/04/how-to-spot-a-narcissist/

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/a44911ae-486c-11e2-a1c0-00144feab49a.html#axzz2rS4r73Hq

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™