“Melody of Love” is a fundraising event put on by our church youth group every year around Valentine’s. The kids decorate the gym with twinkling lights and crepe paper. They prepare and serve dinner. In between courses they entertain the attendees with love songs.

Every year Alex and I try to boost attendance by hosting a pre-party at our home with wine and hors’ d’oeuvres. Last night we had 22 guests. All of our friends had attended this event before, so no one bought tickets with the expectation that it would be an evening of romance and fine dining.

The acoustics are bad. The metal chairs are uncomfortable, and if the entrée is still luke warm when it reaches your table, it’s a big win. Tickets are $25 a person.

As I watched the kids perform their love songs, I was impressed with their talent and their youthful enthusiasm, and I thought, “They have no idea of what’s ahead of them.”

I suspect as they looked out at all of us, they might have seen our aging bodies and thinning hair and thought that none of us could have much going on in the love department.

I think it’s a good thing they don’t know what lies ahead. All of us sitting in the audience have gone through our own dark night of the soul. We have struggled with relationships. We’ve had financial worries. Our kids have broken our hearts at one time or another, and we’ve had to bury some of the people we have loved most dearly.

While we remember the passion of youth, we also know that love is so much more than romance. It wouldn’t make sense to try to explain that to these kids now. It would be just as impossible to describe the overpowering love you feel the first time you hold your newborn baby as it would be to explain how you can keep loving and caring for your spouse when he can no longer communicate or go to the bathroom without help.

The money raised at last night’s event will help pay for our youth group’s mission trip next summer. They will have the opportunity to help someone who is less fortunate. They will give of themselves, and hopefully they will begin to understand that love is the most amazing and transformative power in the universe.

I’m hoping these kids will live long, happy lives and that they will grow in faith and love – two of life’s most beautiful and complex mysteries.

If eating mediocre food in a chilly gym while sitting on cold metal chairs helps them on that path, then I would say it was time and money well spent!

Elaine K Sanchez is an author, speaker and co-founder of Contact her at