Valentine’s Day is here once again. Romance, Cupid, red, pink, hearts, chocolate, children’s school valentines, and, it bears repeating, romance all come to mind. Yes, once again love is in the air. At least, it’s supposed to be. Or maybe we just hope it is. Granted, part of why we believe it is might be because of society, the marketing, the commercials, and the movies that all remind us of love being in the air for Valentine’s Day.
An acquaintance of mine called Valentine’s Day “National Singles Awareness Day.” As a single person, I completely understand that. I’ve heard about married people who say it’s a day that makes them aware of everything their marriage is lacking. Whether single or married, Valentine’s Day seems to promote a feeling that we are missing out on something. Perhaps, Hollywood’s romantic movies have given us unrealistic expectations of practically perfect relationships to which we compare our own. In the case of a single person, we might look to movies as a guide to what we are missing out on or wish we had.
Valentine’s Day can leave us feeling empty and longing for more. That’s a hard place to be. We all know that eating chocolate and watching movies can only provide a temporary distraction from what is going on in our hearts. After the movie ends and the happy feelings evaporate, we still wish our lives could be more like a Hollywood screenplay.
However, maybe that’s the exact place we need to be.
The dissatisfaction produced by Valentine’s Day can remind us about who we really are and what is really important. Last year, Valentine’s Day happened to fall on the same day as Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season known in liturgical Christianity as Lent. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter. It is a time for Christians to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and reflect on their lives. Ash Wednesday specifically is a time to remember that we are only human.
The occurrence of these two holidays on the same day caused me to think about what love really is. It isn’t romance and romantic movies and warm fuzzy feelings. Instead, it is about God and how much he loves us. First John 4:8 says that God is love. Clearly, if God is love, I have to adjust my definition of what love looks like and bring it in line with who God is.
He is patient but willing to face the hard things.
He pursues us and wants us to come to him.
He adopts us and chooses us to become part of his family. Yet, he is willing to allow us to choose whether or not to love him back.
By looking at what God does, we are more likely to see what love is really supposed to look like.
The love of God gives us the freedom to be who he created us to be. We don’t have to act in a certain way to earn his love. Jesus promised that he would always be with us (Matthew 28:20) and loved us so much that he laid down his life for us (John 10:17-19). That is true love. That is the type of love we need.
God can use the discomfort induced by Valentine’s Day, or anything else in life, to remind us of who he is. He is the source of love and the only one who can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. I can so easily forget that and turn to other people for love. Perhaps, instead of seeing Valentine’s Day as a day that reminds me that I’m still single, I can use it as a day to drive me closer to God.
This Valentine’s Day, I want to remember God’s love and what love really looks like.
What will you allow Valentine’s Day to remind you of this year?