I’m a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I always have been and I’m pretty sure I always will be. And I’ll shamelessly admit it to anyone who asks or doesn’t ask.
When I was a kid, Valentine’s cards were the very bestest. Every year, Mom would let us pick out a package we liked and then we’d spend beautiful hours picking the right ones for the right people and writing their names out, usually on February 13th. And then I’d bask in the multitudes of Valentines I’d receive myself. Each one had a special memo and picture, just for me, I felt. Some were even home made. And the more I received, the more affirmed and loved I felt. It was absolutely glorious.
Now I’m a university student and although the idea of making Valentines for treasured friends still appeals to me, I didn’t write a single card this year. Now I’m at the age where friends are either going on dates or complaining over their lack of a love life or ranting on the stupidity such a day. And I received a total of two Valentines cards this year.
I spent the day at school, though I didn’t have classes. Instead, I spent an average day in the life of a theatre major; I shot a promo video for my upcoming play, postered campus for the said production, and I worked on set pieces, for, you gussed it, that show I’m in. I didn’t do anything totally out of the ordinary, for me at least. And to be honest, the fact that it was Valentine’s Day didn’t change a lot of stuff.
But still, it was Valentine’s Day and I spent it with people.
I laughed and did silly stunts and commiserated with friends. We talked of first meetings and became giddy over the silliness of things that were once serious.
I worked with people. We finished tasks and we helped each other and smiled at the fruits of our labour. It was hard work, but the presence of others eased the pain.
A friend and I traveled home together. Both exhausted from fighting terrible bugs and a long week of school, we shared the week’s ‘gossip’ and beauty and giggles.
And I see the people, from my window, running to catch busses or trains or getting in their cars. I see them walking. A man carries flowers as he strolls down the sidewalk. A couple walks a pair of German shepherds who can’t seem to get enough of each other.
There are people. All around us. Walking, working, laughing, learning. Loving.
Tonight I spend an introverted, university-ish night, reading Chekhov and rehearsing lines. But family drifts in and out and I’m reminded of the people and love that comprised my day.
There is love all around. Valentine’s Day is just a glimpse of that. A reminder.
Yesterday, my mom recalled what I’d said to her when I was a disappointed and disillusioned seven-year-old, who didn’t receive as many Valentines as her sister had: “I don’t see what’s so special about Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day isn’t special. I don’t know why people said it was special. There’s no family. There’s no dinner.”
I beg to differ now, with my once disappointed self. Valentine’s Day is special, whether it’s spent with flowers and dinner or as an ordinary school day. It can be special, if we spend it with those around us and choose to see the world with a window of love.
I realize I’m being a bit poetical and aarie-faerie here. I realize also that those kind of words don’t often mean much to all people.
But think on this. The roots of Valentine’s Day are in a man called St. Valentine. He was a martyr to love, specifically the God-designed institute of marriage. He died for what he believed, for a noble cause, for a relationship and heritage that still breathes joy today.
It is a legacy. A passing down. Of joy, family, friendship, love.
We were created in the image of God and made for relationship. Whether we are married or single or love or abhor the sticking tradition of Valentine’s Day, that is the truth.
The day is nearly done now. There’s about three more hours of this day when chocolate is expected and secret admirer notes are acceptable.
Yet I encourage you, to embrace Valentine’s Day, for all it’s worth in the short hours that remain. I beg of you more to take hold of the attitude of sacrificial love that inspired it. Most of all, I call you to love people and in loving people, you love Him as well.