This Saturday, lovebirds all around our country will be celebrating Valentine’s Day. It is a day in which romance and love are lifted up, and where time is spent in the company of one’s significant other. Stores are decked out with pink and red hearts, candy and teddy bears galore.
For as wonderful as this day of celebrating love can be, it also can be a time of great angst. What should I get my loved one as a present? What type of flowers do they like again? Where should we go for a romantic dinner and will we be able to get a table? In my case, just a few years ago, there was the anxiety knowing that during Valentine’s Day weekend I would be proposing to the love of my life.
This day can also bring pain and heartbreak to those who have no one to call their Valentine. Some are still looking for that special someone and are reminded on this day that they are still alone. Others are happy with their single life, but are sent the message that something is wrong with them for not wanting a partner.
This day has not always been a day dedicated to love and romance. In fact, it originated in the church as a celebration of St. Valentine. We get this emphasis on romance from a legend that St. Valentine secretly conducted weddings, but the truth is that there is not much we really know about this saint other than the fact that he was killed for sharing the Gospel. This Christ-like act of loving God and loving neighbor, even to the point of death, speaks greater volume than any heart-shaped box or teddy bear ever will.
What if we were to reclaim this Valentine’s Day as a day in which we demonstrated God’s love to others in a way only possible because “God first loved us?” In doing so, we may eradicate the angst of Valentine’s Day, so that it is no longer reserved just for significant others, but is instead a day in which God’s love is shared with family, friends, loved ones and the world.
This Valentine Day, may our hearts be guided by the words of 1 John 4. “ Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.”