Daisies and Roses

E5596323-0F60-4B16-B823-CFC34CA06960

“Let the red roses grown and fade;
I’d rather have daisies on a rainy Tuesday.”

So runs the tagline from the first song I ever wrote—that is, the first song I ever wrote that I actually still rather like. It is inspired by my mother’s words to my father in a story I’ve never grown tired of hearing.

You see, my dad is an accountant and, this time of year, he is absolutely swamped. He is also an incredibly practical person and, although he does a great job showing my mom that he loves her, romance is not his natural bent. One Valentine’s Day early in their relationship, my dad—then a cluelessly head-over-heels young man—did his best to surprise my mom with the classic red roses.

Well, this did not go according to plan, something deeply troubling to those of us (like my dad and me) who thrive on plans.

My mom, however, reassured my dad with the following words: “I don’t care about roses on Valentine’s day. I just want a mixed bouquet on a Tuesday for no reason.”

My parents’ love, it turns out, does not center on an annual ritual of overpriced roses (I hate to break it to you, men, but roses are more expensive the day before Valentine’s…) but instead is built upon small, thoughtful, sweet surprises. My dad regularly surprises my mom with flowers and, once I entered the picture, began to bring me my own small bouquets as well, teaching me what it is to care for someone on both the holidays and the everydays.

In high school, when my mom explained the reasoning behind the random bouquets and lack of roses on Valentine’s, I wrote my own take on the story in a song called “Daisies” and it became my own sort-of romance anthem. The main lyrics go something like this:

VERSE 1
Today was perfect, perfectly scripted.
Each moment flawless, just like you planned it.
You took my hand, we danced…
Like we should: romance.

REFRAIN
But I wish you knew
And I know it’s strange
To throw this yearly act away.
Let the red roses grow and fade;
I’d rather have daisies on a rainy Tuesday…

BRIDGE
Red roses are heartless on Valentine’s day.

CHORUS
I’d rather laugh at some silly movie
Than always have you singing songs to me…
I love to dance but don’t need romance.
Let the red roses grow and fade;
I’d rather have daisies on a rainy Tuesday.

I’ll even include a link to a very old, very poor teenager-with-an-iPhone recording of this song.  (It’s hugely embarrassing, so don’t tell anyone else about it. It’s our secret, you hear?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXtwNajUOik&feature=share

The thing is, though, while I still prefer daisies to red roses, I am not sure I agree with my own song anymore. You see, I met someone who brought me daisies on Tuesday and who is always ready to “laugh at some silly movie” with me. The thing is, though, he has also taught me to love slow-dancing; he both twirls me around and sends me flowers, but makes me laugh like nobody else. And—here comes the irony—I have turned into the one constantly writing and singing songs.

Despite the protests of my first song against constant serenading, I have become the ukulele player with four main chords and a whole lot of rhymes. Somehow, in the past year, I have become a hopeless romantic, while yet remaining the pragmatist who savors small, thoughtful gestures.

And so, after years of resenting Valentine’s as a mere “yearly act” or “sainted old cliché,” I have come to enjoy it as a little extra sweetness on top of the everyday. I suppose the key is finding someone who will love me on this day but not only this day. Besides, Valentine’s day is just as likely to be rainy as any random Tuesday, right?

The beautiful thing about this love, too, is that it is not limited to romantic love. Friends and family are just as capable of providing those sweet, everyday gestures of affection and care. (Happy Galentine’s, am I right?) You know that passage in 1 Corinthians that everyone quotes to tie their spiritual and romantic lives together? (“Love is patient, love is kind, etc.”) Well, the King James Version translates “love” as “charity.”

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind;
charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”

– 1 Corinthians 14:4

Charity goes far beyond and before romantic love; charity is the love of Christ manifest in the love of believers toward each other. Dearest friends, family, and lovers: let’s celebrate the everyday in charity. Valentine’s is, I am now forced to admit, worth enjoying, but how marvelous to think that our love—our charity—extends through the whole year, to each and every person in our lives. That may be daisies on Tuesday, mailing a note to your best friend, or calling up your parents to thank them for demonstrating that sustainable relationships are built on apparently-ordinary acts of charity.

Still, happy Valentine’s, my love. You know who you are.

Certain Uncertainty: some thoughts and a song

In high school, I won an essay contest for arguing that uncertainty and hope were two sides of the same coin. I’m not sure I agree theologically since I now understand hope as the anticipation of things assured in faith. Still, it was a darn good essay for a 17-year-old, and something in its essence stuck with me through the past six years.

You see, I’m 5,000 miles away from everyone I love, studying in a graduate program surrounded by men with more degrees than a thermometer (I’d better learn to smoke a pipe), married couples with young children in tiny rainboots (seriously, my heart explodes every time), and people who seem to know exactly what they want in life. Or, more daunting, people who already seem to have what they want.

And even though I’m doing reasonably well, found a job that I love, and am living in a place I’ve dreamt of for years, the uncertainty of what comes next keeps me awake until the terrible hours of the morning. (Which, due to how far north I am, look more or less as dark as the terrible hours of the afternoon.)

The uncertainty is relentless. I’ll spare you, whoever you are, from reading my long lists of worries that have filled a journal cover-to-cover in record time. Instead, I want to leave you with another small original song. Perhaps it is odd to take comfort in my own words and music, but this song reminds me of earlier this year when things felt just as terribly uncertain, perhaps even more so.

And yet, here I am, six months later and still moving forward.

In the time since I wrote this, the lyrics have taken on richer meaning, deeper hope, and a more mature understanding that while everything feels uncertain, there is true certainty in hope. Unlike my high school essay, it seems now that uncertainty propels me back to my certain hope in Christ and the blessings He prodigally bestows on me even in the most lonely, frightening, and uncertain seasons.

It’s a love song, as usual. However, there is meaning beyond its romance. It is an expression of hope, which unites uncertainty and certainty. This hope, like a song, relies on moving forward through time toward its realization.