Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.
I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other things: Mom’s passing, the birth of a couple of grandsons, life that doesn’t slow down at my request. Legitimate reasons.
I’ve never, to my knowledge, forgotten a holiday.
Granted this isn’t one of my favorites. It’s not as unlikeable as Halloween, but it’s right up there. When my girls were younger, the years they didn’t have boyfriends made the holiday unbearable. No one to send them a carnation at school. No expectations of romantic dinners or other memorable dates.
Just a day that emphasized how they didn’t have someone special.
When we were younger, classroom lists went home from school to make sure everyone in class got a valentine from every other person in class. We’d buy those boxes of mass-produced cards and carefully fill them out to give the classmates. Gayle and I always had to send the same cards. If she wanted Disney princess Valentine cards, I’d want Marvel Comic cards–and we’d end up with the same generic cards filled with flowers.
Nobody was ever left out. Everyone got a card.
Feeling left out on Valentine’s Day is an internalized statement that there’s something unlovable about me.
When I began dating the man I’d eventually marry, he generously gave me flowers. Especially on Valentine’s Day.
I felt incredibly special.
My friends on my dorm floor would look longingly at these flowers. Some had boyfriends. Not many got flowers. My excitement was dulled by what my friends didn’t experience.
I felt their sadness at not being loved well.
The older I’ve gotten, the less I enjoy Valentine’s Day. Not because of its commercialism or its unrealistic focus on romantic love. It’s more that it’s a poke that there are many who don’t feel loved.
Needing to be known and loved are significant issues we all deal with. The truth is we can’t be genuinely loved unless we’re authentically known.
I enjoy the idea of romantic love. My favorite movies are romantic comedies. Where boy meets girl, they overcome ridiculous odds–which may be each other–to fall passionately in love by the end of the movie. Blissful happiness. It’s what makes romance so appealing.
Real love is work. It’s not basing my relationships on feelings but on the choice to put someone else’s needs before mine. To consider someone else’s desires as more important than my own. Not demanding my way but caring more for what the other person wants.
It’s why the most powerful love story of all time is Jesus dying for us on the cross. He did the work of sacrificing His best out of love for us. Doing the work we couldn’t do for ourselves.
He didn’t have to do that. He took our mess upon His shoulders so we could be redeemed. Our messy brokenness covered by His perfect goodness.
That’s love. Selfless. Unconditional. Not a love I can ever lose once I have it.
I’m not complaining about Valentine’s Day. As a holiday with a positive focus.
After all, all we need is love.
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