February is the month of love. Walk into any grocery store and you’ll see red and pink wrapped chocolate hearts lining the shelves.
I’ve always been on the fence when it comes to Valentine’s Day. I have friends that despise the holiday. “It’s just a day for single ladies to feel depressed and Hallmark to make money.” $18 billion in fact. I have friends that embrace the holiday, like my friend who got married on Valentine’s day. “What a better day to get married than on the day of love?”
Me? I’ve just taken each year as it comes. When I was single, I didn’t care, when I was dating, we went to dinner. Nothing much more than that. Around this time two years ago I could sense a proposal coming in the near future from Mike. I just had one “rule”: Do NOT propose to me on Valentine’s Day. Thinking of getting engaged on Valentine’s Day only made me think of a cheese ball…CHEESY.
So he proposed on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day…it was perfect in my opinion. (One day when I have more time I’ll tell you the story. Let’s just say you will all love Mike ten times more than you already do because he knows the way to a woman’s heart. But he’s mine, sorry. :))
Valentine’s Day always gets people thinking about love, at least on the romantic side of things, whether we like it or not. As I sit here, I’m thinking through all that I have learned about love in the past few years. Learning to love friends, love a church family, love my own family, love my husband, and ultimately love God more and more each day.
I think the problem with worldly love, and perhaps the reason many gag when you mention “Valentines”, is that we have over-romanticized love. Hollywood has told the world that love is easy, it’s butterflies and puppy dogs and bushels of roses, and the moment life takes a different shift, a hard turn, love must not be present anymore. At that point it’s socially acceptable to dismiss it altogether.
The Bible completely contradicts this way of thinking.
You may be reading this and think I am only speaking to married couples. But I’m not. The Bible speaks of love frequently and it is not only speaking to couples in marital bliss. No, the Bible speaks of all kinds of love. The love that’s required to be a loyal friend (John 15:13, Proverbs 17:17). The unconditional love parents must have in order to get through the sometimes long and grueling days with stubborn children (Hebrews 12:5-11). The love that slowly and steadily grows between a husband and wife (Ephesians 5:33). And dare I say it, the love that we are called to have even for our enemies, the people that have hurt us the most (Luke 6:35).
I could write a lengthy blog post on every single one of those types of love. Love can be tricky, sticky and difficult. Friends, love is hard work.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
Most of us have read or at least heard those verses before but have you taken a closer look at what those verses are saying? Love is so much more than romance. While it may be an important part of the love that occurs between spouses, it is not the essence of love. Instead, love it is selfless. Love is thinking of others before yourself.
There is just one person who ever loved perfectly. Jesus came to earth and loved us SO much that He gave up His life for us. You know, “For God so LOVED the world that he gave his only Son…” (John 3:16). That kind of love, the love of our Savior, is right there waiting for us. We may not have someone to take us on a Valentine’s date, but we do have Christ who would do anything to have a “date” with us, to have our undivided attention for a whole evening.
As we are children of a loving God, we are also called to love others.
We are commanded to love, in fact.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)
No matter your thoughts on the tiny colorful sweethearts that say, “Text me,” “Kiss Me,” and “Call me,” I do encourage you to think about love this week. Think about your own heart and how you are (or are not) showing love to others. Is your love Christ-like? Is it unconditional? Do your reactions display love to your friends, family and hardest of all…the ones you don’t care for?
Now that I am married, Mike and I exchange small sweet “nothings” (that mean so much more than nothing) and go out to a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day. We use the holiday as a reason for a romantic date and a reminder that romance is important in a marital relationship, but Valentine’s Day aside, we choose to love each other every single day, through the peaks and the valleys because we not only made a vow to each other, but also because the Lord commanded us to do so.