I’m so fed up with Valentine’s Day and it’s not even here yet.
I know, I know. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be this big, romantic night filled with chocolate covered strawberries and roses and cards and fancy dinners and jewelry and whispered sweet nothings and s-e-x. It’s supposed to be the most romantic day of the year, the day you truly, deeply connect with your spouse in an uber-meaningful way.
But you know what, all that “supposed to” stuff? It’s bullcrap.
That’s not love; that’s materialism. In fact, I’ll go even farther. It’s the devil.
I can hear the gasping already, but hear me out for a minute.
Flowers, balloons, fancy dinners, chocolate-covered strawberries, jewelry and yes, even sex, are not love. And giving those things or doing those things because that’s what’s expected, or what you are supposed to do isn’t love either.
And yet we are inundated with images telling us that’s what we are supposed to do. Billboards dot our highways with men holding flowers and 12-foot high diamond rings. Our televisions and radios run commercial after commercial about how you can “show her you love her” by buying her things. Lingerie ads are everywhere, encouraging women to “give him a night to remember.”
If you believe the hype, men are supposed to buy women things to make them feel loved and women are supposed to have sex with men to make them feel loved. That’s not love, that’s a transaction.
But love is not transactional, love is relational.
Things and sex aren’t love, they are things and sex.
God doesn’t want us to want transactions, but the devil does. You see, if those things are love then each gift must be larger, more special or more expensive than the next to show that your affection has deepened. Each time you mess up a new thing must be purchased to make up for the sad thing. Each special sexual experience must be better, racier than the next.
Then you will start comparing the things your person gave you to the things your best friend’s person gave them. And then it becomes a competition to outdo each other and top each other. After all, more must be better because more means greater love. It never ends.
Focusing on things and sex distracts us from what love really is and how we show love. We are distracted by the glitz and glitter and shine and lose sight of what really matters. And that’s how the devil wins.
The business of Valentine’s Day is damaging our relationships.
The devil wants us distracted, focused on things and not people. He wants us to focus on keeping up with the Joneses and not on nurturing our relationships. The devil is focused on things. But our Creator is focused on people and relationships. The devil knows this and will do everything in his power to get us to forget it.
So how are we called to love?
We are called to love as we have been loved. Fully, completely, without pretense. Selflessly.
Goodness that seems impossible, doesn’t it?
For me, these huge ideas of what love is are best expressed in the tiny, everyday moments. It’s not huge, grand gestures — though those are wonderful from time to time — but the small, quiet, easily overlooked expressions that mean the most.
Love is tucking the kids in bed for the ninth time and laughing at how cute they are, it’s taking over grocery shopping because your wife is heavily pregnant and can’t do it anymore. It’s is cleaning the sink each night because your partner hates clutter and keeping a breastfed baby busy that last hour before Mama gets home so they are ready to nurse when they see her. It’s sacrifice.
It’s packing lunches, making dinner, filling the car with gas and setting the coffee machine each night so she has a full pot in the morning. Love is finding new restaurants to explore together, planning adventures, holding hands and making time for each other. It’s a knowing look.
Love is sitting in a hospital room, watching your partner get stronger. It’s talking to nurses and doctors and patient advocates. It’s making appointments, asking questions and getting second opinions. Love is in sickness and health.
Love is surprising your partner with flowers on a random Wednesday, remembering what they wore on your first date and keeping every card you’ve ever given them. It’s romantic.
It’s paying hosting fees on a blog for four years before a single word is written.
And yes, love can be sex, but sex for connection, renewal.
Love is best expressed in the things that improve and deepen relationships.
Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. – Colossians 3:14
Love unites us, it does not divide us.
That being said, Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful time to show our love to our partner, our children and our friends. My Dad has always been a big fan of Valentine’s Day, getting up super early in the morning and sneaking out to the grocery store to pick up flowers, candy and a card for my Mom. When I lived at home there was always a smaller bouquet for me, a balloon and a card. But here’s the deal, these expressions of his love are just part of the way he shows how much he loved us. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. Valentine’s Day can’t be the whole sundae.
This is what I command you: Love one another. –John 15:17
As we begin the Lenten season and prepare our hearts for Easter, may we ask God to show us how best to love one another and fulfill His commandment.
Instead of giving up something for Lent, may we add more love. May we seek those everyday opportunities to show our commitment to one another. And if grand gestures are what makes your partner feel loved, may you sweep them off their feet on a random Wednesday. Random Wednesdays are the best.
We were made to love; we are called to love. Let’s love well every day.
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? What are your favorite ways to show love?