Rick Kraft

The elderly couple was driving down the country road in their old pickup truck when a they saw a young couple in a shiny new pickup coming towards them from the other direction. The young man was driving and the young lady was sitting right next to him, almost in his lap. He had his left hand on the steering wheel and his right arm was behind her neck resting on her shoulder. She was looking at her man with adoration, giving him all of the attention that any young lady could possibly give.

As the two pickup trucks passed, the elderly lady looked at her husband of fifty years from across the front seat and with a grin said, “Would you look at that! Do remember when we used to travel like that?” He turned his head and looked at her somewhat uncomfortable and unsure just how to respond. Then he smiled and said, “I haven’t moved!”

Next week couples across our community will celebrate Valentine’s Day. To many Valentine’s Day means something totally different this year than it did last year. Some have different Valentine’s today than a year ago. Some have lost their Valentine over the past year. This will be the last Valentine’s Day for some in our community to celebrate long relationships. They will lose their cherished spouse of many decades in the year ahead. 

Some will celebrate their first ever Valentine’s Day with someone special this week. Some relationships are falling apart at the seams and the Valentine that they have today will be long gone before February 14th rolls around next year.

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to recognize that someone special who adds value to your life. I believe that God made us to live our lives as couples. Studies have shown that individuals who are married live longer than those who aren’t. This does not surprise me. 

It is a secure feeling to know there is someone in this world who is thinking of you and is there for you to return to. When my children were young, as I headed out the door for work I often jokingly said, “I love you kids. Have a great day. Daddy has to go out and slay some dragons today!” No matter what difficulties I have with the dragons that I encounter each day, I know the stress of the day will end and I have a special lady to return to at the end of the day.

To keep the same Valentine year after year takes a couple growing together. This is the challenge for every couple. Growth. Growth together. Often people change Valentines because one or both choose not to grow. Sometimes one or both choose to grow apart, not together.

Each summer for many years our daughter Kelsey went to Kanukuk, a Christian athletic camp outside Branson, Missouri. She attended as a participant, then she returned several years as a counselor. The camp’s director was author and speaker Joe White. Many summers ago as my family sat out in the beautiful forest, Dr. White told us a story about two trees. He told us about an elm tree and a box elder tree that have grown just outside his mother’s front porch there in the woods of Missouri. Two trees that are very different. 

He described how the 80 year old trees have grown tall and strong, twisted together and intertwined. Through the years they have grown together and have in essence become one, both leaning on the other as they grew. His analogy was that if all goes according to God’s plan, a husband and a wife will grow together, with both leaning on each other as they grow. 

He also talked about how sometimes a tree is cut short. This happens in the event of the death of a spouse or a divorce when the couple is young. He explained how tough it is to go it alone. 

But what a powerful analogy. Two different trees growing together, relying on each other as they grow. Both growing at the same pace as they live their lives, but together growing as one into the sky.

I got engaged on Valentine’s Day thirty-nine years ago. When I proposed to Tanya it was a special evening; the only time that I have asked a woman to be my wife. On the porch of Tinnie Mercantile in Tinnie, New Mexico I dropped to one knee and opened the box with the ring inside. I was as nervous as a guy could be. This became clear when I tried to open the box to show her the ring and it went flying. But I was also in love.

I remain even more in love thirty-nine years later. My Valentine in 1984 is my best friend today. I pray that we will be able to enjoy Valentine’s Days together for decades to come. We shouldn’t take Valentine’s Day for granted as we never know the future. Many special people experience Valentines Day this year alone having lost their valentine of many years. Visiting a grave is nothing like a smile, a hug, a kiss, a squeeze of that someone special’s hand.

We only have a fixed number of Valentine’s Days to celebrate during our lives. And we have only one opportunity to celebrate Valentine’s Day in 2023. Who is that special person in your life? Do you take them for granted? What drew the two of you together? If there were sparks when you met, what is preventing there from being sparks today? Are you growing together as one?

My challenge to you today is to take the time to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone. Remember the days that you courted. Remember the sparks that were flying; the look in his or her eyes. Realize you and your Valentine saw something in each other back then or else you wouldn’t have gotten together. Rekindle the flame. You can do it. 

Be sure there is growth in your relationship. Growth together like the trees in the forest. Take responsibility yourself for where your relationship is today. Do what you can to improve the relationship. Be the person you want your spouse to be. Don’t be like the elderly man in the pickup. Don’t just sit there and say, “I haven’t moved.”

Just a thought...


Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202-0850.

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