When I was in high school, some brilliant person (heavy sarcasm) on the student council thought it would be a great idea to sell carnations for Valentine’s day. For several days you could make your way up the to the STUCO table, amidst watching and wandering eyes, and purchase a carnation for the person of your choosing with a note to be attached to the flower delivered on Valentine’s Day.
I remember that day every year. In my memory it feels like I was always in Spanish class. Maybe because few classes made me feel like a failure quite like Spanish did, except maybe Algebra, and Geometry….but I digress. What impressed me most as a perpetual people watcher was the reaction after those flowers were handed out. When the deliverers hands were emptied, so were the spirits of so many in the room. The door opened in expectation and closed in defeat.
I saw friends, acquaintances and complete strangers feel rejected that day, years in a row. It wasn’t uncommon to see tears in the hallways amidst the slamming of lockers and rush to class.
Unfortunately as I got older, I continued to see a lot of sadness and hurt intertwined with the romance and chocolate.
Even as a parent, I thought maybe I’d entered a new phase for this holiday…it’s all fun and sugar, hooray! Until the teacher tells you they expect your child to hand write all the Valentine’s to a class of nearly 30. If you’ve never had to force a 5 year old to write their name 30 times, I promise, there is no lovey dovey sort of feeling that is in the air after this task is completed!
I am a big fan of love! It’s my favorite thing. It’s what created me, breathes life into me, shows grace to me, and spurs me on. It’s what I pray I exude to all those who come in contact with me. I want to celebrate it, draw attention to it, feel it, show it, and enjoy it.
This is why I’m sad that there’s this day that is supposed to be all about love, and yet for some, seems to leave disappointment in its wake.
Maybe we’ve forgotten what real love (not romance, or seduction, or persuasion) looks like. Here is a reminder at how the bible defines love:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:7-21 ESV
I know this is a hard “holiday” for a lot of people.
I hope if you are fearful of being alone, you’ll remember that perfect love casts out fear (v.18).
That if you are feeling unloved this day, that you’ll remember God is love, and your desire for love was created by Him and can only be satisfied in Him. (v.7-8).
That if we happen to have love, it is because He first loved us (v.19)
That if you know someone who this is a hard day for, and you love God, you remember we are called to love our brother…and sister (v.21)!
I hope you don’t let what does or does not happen on this day determine if you are loved. You are deeply, passionately, pursued, treasured, and loved! I also hope that we would not make this day just about romance, but about truly loving others and showing them love…especially those who may need a little extra love.
Maybe you could write a note to a single friend telling her how much you treasure her. Grab a coffee for your boss on the way to work. Make your kids a special breakfast or treat and tell them what it is that is special about each one of them. Send a little something into your kids teachers. Drop by some flowers to someone who has lost their significant other. Pick up some extra chocolate for a divorced coworker. Spend some extra time with your spouse reconnecting. Live love.
Lets celebrate this kind of love…real love, today and everyday of the year. Carnations for all!
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV