Valentine’s Day is named after Saint Valentine, who was martyred in 270 A.D. for refusing to renounce his faith.
How we came to celebrate a day named after him by giving chocolate and lingerie, I will never understand. Honestly, it seems a little sacrilegious. But here we are, T-minus 2 days until Valentine’s Day.
If hearing those words just made your heart sink, this piece is for you.
It’s for you, the woman whose husband never remembers the day until you remind him.
It’s for you, the person who just went through a painful break-up, who is nauseated by the sight of couples in love.
It’s for you, the woman whose boyfriend has lots of good qualities — but buying creative presents is not one of them. So you’ll be getting blue carnations and a cheesy card. Again. For the third year in a row.
It’s for you, the single person who hasn’t had a date on Valentine’s Day in years.
It’s for anyone who feels left out, discouraged, rejected, overlooked, abandoned or neglected.
Why does the day make some of us (maybe most of us?) feel so badly about ourselves?
Because we’ve come to use the day as a litmus test to evalulate our worth. We ask ourselves these two questions: Am I romantically loved by someone? And if so, how much?
Then we assign ourselves value depending on the answers.
If I don’t have a partner and don’t get any gifts, well, I fail.
Having a partner who doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day, or gets me a lame gift, that’s a C+.
Having a partner who plans an elaborate, romantic surprise earns me an A+. (By the way, hardly anyone scores this high. I never have.)
We have taken a holiday named for a man who showed the highest love — giving his life away — and twisted it to become a day by which we measure how much other people love us. What if, instead, we used it as a reminder for how extravagently we can love other people?
Not just love people romantically, but with selfless, unconditional love? At the end of our lives, I think how well we loved other people will matter more than how we did, or did not, feel romantically loved at any given time.
So here’s my challenge to you. Or, if you’re the competitive sort, here’s my double-dog-Valentine’s-Day dare. If you find yourself with free time this Saturday, use it as an opportunity to show someone else how much you love them.
Take your grandma to lunch. Clean out your closet and give the clothes to a thrift store. Instead of giving a homeless person some spare change, take them to lunch and ask them to tell you their story. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Babysit your friend’s kids for the afternoon so she can have a break. Write a letter to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
Loving other people doesn’t just take your mind off your misery; it will remind you of what love truly is, and how much God loves you. Not in the lingerie-and-lipstick kind of way (that would be kinda creepy if God loved you like that, right?), but with a constant, unconditional, creative compassion.
Loving other people will remind you of all the tangible ways God cares for you. God provided your food, God gave you clothes, God gave you physical health and strength, God carries your burdens, God wrote you the best love letter of all time.
This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the true spirit of Saint Valentine.
A life spent receiving and expressing God’s love will outlast chocolates, flowers and lingerie. A soul lit with unconditional love will keep shining, long after rose petals are swept into the trash and candles are blown out and the wicks’ gray smoke has swirled through the cool February night air and faded away.
I want to hear from you! How does the day make you feel? What’s the most creative way you can think of to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?