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Janice Crow: “Valentine’s and Victory”

February 2024

Valentines and Victory

The dreaded school Valentine’s party…remember it?    I’m not sure who dreaded it more… me or my mother…, because it meant writing notes I didn’t want to write to people I didn’t like until my hand cramped, and my mother because she had to keep prodding me to do so.  “Do you have everyone on the list the teacher sent home?  You can’t leave anybody out.”  Even Mrs. Lemmerman was expected to get a valentine, and she was the cruelest joke ever played on a third grader.

Oh, there were some I liked writing.  There were a few close friends for whom I reserved the prettiest cards with the sweetest sentiments.  Then there were “acquaintances” among them,  kids I didn’t know all that well, so they got the more bland, generic  “It’s Valentine’s Day Again….yippee” cards.  The really tough ones, though, were the mean kids, the bullies, the make-my-life-miserable brats.  Ugh.  How do you choose a valentine for someone like that?

It was puzzling how I was taught not to lie…..but somehow on Valentine’s Day, I was supposed to give a card that implied I held a person in high regard who had made fun of my freckles daily, laughed at the house I lived in, and threw spit wads into my curly mop of hair.  THOSE were the rough ones.  All I really wanted to give them was the measles and an “If I never see you again, it’ll be too soon” card.   But we must be nice, mustn’t we?

I assure you I didn’t realize that simple exercise was going to be put to the test time and again throughout my life.  I’ve always had a fairly small circle of friends. There aren’t a lot of people I trust with my heart, so naturally they have a favored position.  Their secrets become my secrets, and I will protect that relationship with everything that’s within me because they have proven themselves true blue.  It’s easy to pray for them.  They’re on my mind, along with their problems and heartaches, as if they were my own family.

I also have many acquaintances and friends, some I’ve known for a relatively short time.  I like them….they seem to like me, at least on the surface, but we haven’t gone through anything together. I pray for them when they cross my mind or have made me aware of some situation.  I’m glad to do it….it’s not a bother.

Then there are the people that make you want to ask God, “Are you sure I really have to pray for them?  Lord, you know how they are….mean, hateful,  vindictive, spiteful,  conniving, deceitful…. why, Lord, it’s a waste of good prayer time.”    What a battle ensues.  Your spirit knows you should pray, regardless of how they’ve mistreated you, but all your flesh wants for them is a run-in with a Bi-State bus.

At times I understand Jonah completely and his disappointment that God spared Nineveh when all they deserved was fire and brimstone.  But the real mission for Jonah was obedience to the will of God, not to be judge and jury for the city of Nineveh.

My mom is gone now, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard her pray, “And Lord, bless all those that it’s our duty to pray for”.  I guess when I was a kid, I thought that was a kind of shorthand to God meaning “Just bless everybody because I’m too tired to list all their names”.  But now I don’t think so.  I think she meant those individuals in her life that it was hard to pray for…..those trouble makers….that neighbor who chops the honeysuckle off of YOUR  fence because he can,   that relative that’s always got their shorts in a wad about something,  that person who’s hurt you more deeply than anyone ever has.    Mom used to say, “I just keep prayin’ for ’em until I wanna  pray for ’em.”

I remember one year giving a valentine to one of those hateful  kids, and surprisingly the next year they gave me a chocolate heart.  Who knew?

Pray……even if it’s only out of duty because it will come back to you someday…..sweeter.


Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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