Happy Valentine’s Day!
Do you remember the Valentine’s Day parties in Elementary school? I’m not sure why, but these parties stand out in my memory, not only for the candy or sugar hearts or oversweet punch, but for the cards and feelings that ranged from warm fuzzies to disappointment or indifference. I also enjoyed getting the themed variety mini-valentine cards that I’d carefully select to be friendly and lite, but not too sappy. I figured if I wanted to add any emotional content I could sign, “Love Sarah” and not just “Sarah.” Of course I had classmates who were very emotional and they always signed, “Love _________.”
I always wondered what these classmates meant when they signed Love with their name. Did they mean that they loved me? Did they mean that they loved everyone? Did they mean that they had warm and fuzzy feelings? Did they sign love with their name because that’s what they thought they were supposed to do on Valentine’s Day? And why sign your name with “Love” if you don’t mean it? Clearly, I had a lot of thoughts about the “love” stuff and felt that this word had an immense amount of weight and importance to it. Consequently, I was very careful about using the “love” word.
I still feel strongly about this word, regardless of it’s popular usage on Valentine’s Day or how it can be casually used for stuff like chocolate, Chuck Taylor shoes, coffee / tea, reading, Chris Pratt, flowers, NCAA basketball, fireplaces, beaches, Chik Filet, fast cars, etc. I’m also not overly enamored with the general celebration of Valentine’s Day constricted to merely a romantic perspective of love. Indeed, this holiday is named after a Christian priest in the 3rd century who was martyred for his devotion to Jesus.
So if Valentine’s Day is when we celebrate love, it seems appropriate to ask, “What is Love?” I’d propose that Genuine Love is Who God is, based on 1 John 4:8 and Genuine Love is the core motive in God’s choices, priorities, actions and outlook. To that end, God’s essential mindset toward you is grounded in love, full stop. This says to us that the original and most accurate love story is experienced in God loving you.
So here are some interesting questions for you to consider for Valentine’s Day: Do you let God love you? Do you hide from Genuine Love or see yourself as disqualified or unworthy? Do you believe that you deserve for God to love you because you’re good or because of your successes and achievements or because you haven’t screwed up too much?
Maybe Valentine’s Day is when we allow God to fully be Genuine Love to us, not allowing ourselves to receive calibrated love by our actions or “goodness.” This reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
So let’s choose to celebrate Genuine Love on Valentine’s Day! You are deeply loved and treasured!!