Valentine’s Day is kind of a strange day for me. Do you know some of the stories that explain why we have a Valentine’s Day? If not, I encourage you to read some of the martyr stories and legends about Saint Valentine (or the many Valentines probably to be more accurate). For the record I prefer the ones that say Valentine was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry, ministering to Christians who were persecuted in the Roman Empire, and healing the daughter of a jailer.
Whatever the stories, today we associate Valentine’s Day with love. What does it mean to associate a day entirely with love?
Yes, popular culture has turned this into a day all about romance. Commercial society has turned this into the “greeting card day,” with countless chocolates and flowers, and now even “wish lists” for special gifts for people from many online stores. For heaven’s sake, my wife and I went shopping the day after Christmas and saw that our local Target already had Valentine’s gifts and cards out and ready for sale (that was a month and a half ago). Maybe this is why I get so uncomfortable about Valentine’s Day? The rampant consumerism is enough to make any semi-socially minded person squeamish. Or, maybe I’m somewhat uncomfortable because eating a heart shaped cake and being called “Cupid” is just wrong? (I’ll share more on this in a little bit.)
Taking a step back, why don’t we think of an alternative approach to Valentine’s Day. I am not saying to abandon the day. Perhaps, let’s just “reclaim” it a little? Instead of dwelling in the card aisles of your local grocery store, flower gathering or gawking, or just shopping for all things chocolate, etc., think about ways that you can show love to those in your life and especially those quiet people around you who give meaning, assurance, comfort, encouragement and presence. What might this mean for you?
What this means for you will be different for everyone. But take a few moments to think about and be mindful of the quiet people in your life. Who are the people you can count on and who do good but perhaps aren’t your obvious best friends or whom you don’t talk to often? Who are your cheerleaders from a far? Often I suspect that these are the people we take for granted most. Maybe we could use Valentine’s Day to share a little love and thanks with them?
I guess I should come clean. Growing up I was occasionally called “Cupid” by friends and classmates. You can probably guess why. I may have occasionally tried to (jokingly) play matchmaker for a few friends, but I know better than to really do that. Plus, having a few heart shaped birthday cakes was a few too many. But as time has gone on, I have started to change my mind about Valentine’s Day. Below the surface of the crazy amount of consumerism that makes the day ridiculous, lies a beautiful reminder about love.
You are loved! I believe this fully, and not just as a human being. My faith leads me to believe that all people are beautiful and loved Children of God. If this could be the message we are all reminded of on Valentine’s Day what a gift that would be! If nothing else, I hope you believe me when I say that you are loved. I hope you share that message with those in your life, especially those quiet supporters who aren’t always the obvious people we talk to. But whatever you do today, know that you are loved and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Image Credits: Valentine’s Love