Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day—possibly the most polarizing day of the year. While this holiday has its devotees (of which I am one), its detractors are a vocal and rather vicious bunch.
I get it. Despite claims to the contrary, Valentine’s Day is a real holiday and not just a construct of Hallmark’s marketing team. But like most things these days, Valentine’s Day has gotten over-commercialized past recognition. When Valentine’s Day has been reduced to little more than gaudy paper notecards, chalky candy hearts, and overpriced bouquets of roses, it’s not surprising that this day of Love has begun to garner so much hate.
Beyond the commercialization factor, I wonder if Valentine’s Day has gotten such a lousy reputation because we associate it with romance. . . and while romance is a wonderful, Biblical thing (check out Song of Songs for proof), it’s just a glimpse of what love can and should be. Romance isn’t strong enough or beautiful enough to be the poster child for any holiday, even a token one. Love is so much more than first-kiss butterflies and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates!
Unfortunately Love, like Valentine’s Day, has been misappropriated, mistreated, misunderstood, and diluted to the point of banality. In our culture, “love” is used to describe everything from the giddiness we experience on a first date to our thoughts about ice cream. We “love” ourselves, our phones, and occasionally change our Facebook Profile pictures to reflect our “love” for a cause we allegedly care about. But in all of this “loving,” we’ve forgotten how to truly love one another. Ours is a society that prioritizes self-care over sacrifice, comfort over compassion . . . and we wonder why we feel disconnected and alone. We settle for a cheapened version of love and poof!, that loving feeling is suddenly gone.
But Love cannot be entirely squelched. It is still there, if we know what we are looking for.
Love is a mother who willingly endures night after night of sleeplessness to care for her newborn.
Love is the man who works two jobs and occasionally goes without food so that his children can eat.
Love is the teacher who stays late every day to help a struggling student learn to read.
Love is the family that lives below their means so they can support orphans they’ve never met in a country they may never get to visit.
Love is the unwed teenager who passes her infant into the arms of parents who can offer a better life for her child.
Love is the husband who continues to honor and cherish his wife long after dementia has stolen her mind.
Love is a Heavenly King, kneeling before His disciples—one of whom He knows is about to betray Him—to wash their feet.
Love is nails pierced into the hands of a Sacrificial Lamb who has humbled Himself to death on a cross for the sake of His undeserving but dearly beloved children.
Jesus’ life, death, and gift of salvation is the ultimate portrait of Love. Love that is patient, kind, humble, forgiving, protective, trustworthy, and always prevails. His love is so much more than tacky love notes and red-and-pink balloons. And when we are rooted in His love, acknowledging that we—like Jesus—were created from love and for love, we gain confidence and freedom to live out our purpose of loving with our entire being.
This love that is from Christ is passionate, wholehearted, altruistic, and imbued with purpose. It is sacrificial and the hardest thing we will ever do, but there is nothing that is more important or more rewarding. This Christ-given, God-honoring love is a love that is worth embracing and celebrating, on Valentine’s Day and every day of the year.