Hope deferred makes the heart sick
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Why do I say that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day? For a couple of reasons. First is this observation that I made to Ann this morning: we know people, including at least one teenager, who will spend more money on Valentine’s Day celebration (or have more money spent on her) than Ann and I have spent our entire married life on each other.
I do not say that to brag, nor is this anti-Valentine’s Day rant. I have depended on American Greetings for my livelihood, and if it weren’t for Valentine’s Day, all the florists would do is funeral, funeral, prom. Which would be sad, sad, depressing. And in truth, in prior romantic pursuits, I have spent a small fortune on Valentine’s Day gifts and celebrations.
The spending on romance shows how hard many of us work to fight off that heart sickness. Or the spending on anti-Valentine’s Day stuff to stave off that heart sickness. Because our hopes are deferred. Our hope to be loved. Our hope to feel valuable to another person. Our hope for a good meal, quietly uninterrupted by children.
May I say to you very plainly: you will not spend enough money tomorrow, or this year, to fill the hole that deferred hope holds open. It is vital to note this, though: that hole? It can only be filled by the right thing, so stuffing any old relationship into it will not work. Remember that a sick heart is better than a crushed one, after all. Not that either option is that pleasant.
The second half of the couplet here is the positive side, though, and it is what you are hoping for. When that desire is fulfilled, there is a firmly rooted, productive, strong force for life. Life that is usually pleasant but that can weather storms. Life that shelters from difficult and produces fruit in good season.
And you know one of the great things about trees? As they mature, they require less direct investment and more personal effort. A newly planted tree needs water hauled to it, fertilizer added, and so forth. But a mature tree has roots that find water in most times. Instead, you spend your effort fending off threats or clearing away debris that’s not needed. It involves more time and wiser money. Rather than one big outflow of annualized fertilizer, you do a little bit here and there.
A tree of life comes from desire fulfilled—in relationships, that’s the desire to love and be loved, to serve and be valuable. Let that be your pursuit for Valentine’s Day. Because any knucklehead can buy chocolate.