For my eighteenth birthday my boyfriend, now husband, gave me a fur coat. He wasn’t rich. He was in love, and he wanted me to have something special, something luxurious, something fit for a queen so he worked his tail off in order to be able to give me this gift.
Despite the love and thoughtfulness behind his gift, I’m sad to say, that for years the beautiful coat he gave remained in our closet for years. Almost fifteen years later, the coat continues to hang in our front door closet, neglected and unworn.
It’s not that I don’t love or appreciate my husband’s gift. In many ways it’s precious to me. But somehow, whenever I try to wear it I feel conspicuous, silly, and awkward. My husband has told me time and again that he thinks I look beautiful whenever I wear my coat, but I struggle to believe him.
A few weeks ago my husband and I had a conversation about the coat and for the first time in fifteen years I told him the truth.
“I just don’t like it,” I said, trying ever so hard not to hurt his feelings. “It kills me to say that because I know how hard you worked to give it to me. I know how special it is, but I don’t know…sometimes I wonder what would happen if we tried to trade it in. Maybe find something more my style.”
He was quiet for a minute before saying, “We could do that. It makes me sad and I think you’re crazy, but I’d rather you have a coat you’ll actually use, rather than one that just hangs around in a closet.”
A few days later, Chris and I went to the shop where he bought my coat all those years ago. The saleslady admired my coat and looked up the trade in value. While she was incredibly helpful and happy to discuss our options I could tell she thought I was crazy. I knew she couldn’t understand why I would willingly trade my beautiful blue fox fur for something far less valuable.
Chris and I decided to take some time to consider our options and come back another day. When we got home he took a picture of me in the coat and sent it to our friend in a text message.
Jen thinks she doesn’t look good in this coat, he wrote. Can you give us your honest opinion?
Seconds later our friend wrote back. She looks glorious! Blue fox is rare and exquisite!
Rare and exquisite?
As I read the words from my friend I knew God was using her to speak to me. “Don’t you see?” He seemed to say. “Don’t you know how precious you are to me? Don’t you know that in my eyes, you are rare and exquisite too?”
In that moment my heart for the coat began to change.
I thought of our trip to the store. I thought of Chris walking the aisles of all those coats and picking one just for me. I thought of all the years he’s loved me, all the notes and gifts he’s given. And for the first time I could see this coat wasn’t a onetime expression of his love, but a reflection of our love story’s greatest theme: The theme of extravagant love for God, for each other, and for others.
The love my husband has for me is, in and of itself, a rare and exquisite gift. It is extravagant. It is a reflection of God’s love for us.
And I’ve taken both for granted.
Just like the coat in my closet how many times have I passed by God’s gifts, God’s countless expressions of love for me and failed to recognize how rare and exquisite they are?
How many times have I let my insecurities and shortcomings keep me from the extravagant gift of His love?
How many times have I failed to treasure and use His gifts or thought it better to trade them in for something far less valuable, less satisfactory?
The warmth of a fur coat…
The smell of a lemon…
The sound of my daughter’s voice…
The sight of a rose in full bloom…
My husband’s strong hand in mine…
A love story that lasts through the ages…
His one and only son…
His endless gifts are extravagant. His love? It’s the most exquisite thing I know.
They aren’t to be taken for granted. Tucked away in the closet, buried, neglected, unnoticed. They are to be used, valued, treasured. They are the theme of His love story for us. A reflection of His greatest gift. A reflection of His, the greatest, love.
This Valentine’s Day may you be reminded of God’s extravagant gifts, of His rare and exquisite love. May you pull them from the closet and drown in their warmth. May you know that you’re His treasure. May you treasure Him in return.
And just in case you were wondering, I think I’ll keep the coat.