Earlier in the week, it was parties and conversation hearts. Heart-shaped cookies and treats for teachers. Our day began with heart-shaped pancakes, homemade cards. We will open a nice bottle later today. Perhaps a Barberesco (stay tuned). That is enough for us. It is our 15th Valentine’s Day together. Our love has changed, our family has grown, our focus has shifted.
Unfortunately, these exercises in overblown commercial holidays have a dark side. Despite our best efforts to keep things in perspective, despite our understanding that it is one day and it doesn’t really matter, it leaves many feeling empty.
Let’s talk about love.
First, let’s address what love is NOT.
Love is not rushing out last-minute to appease someone with a quick grab in the card aisle.
Love is not wrapped.
Love is not purchased.
Love is not found in a box of chocolates or the right color flowers.
Love is not an empty grope or moment of passion.
Love is not controlling or obsessive.
Love does not solve all of your problems.
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul tells us that “love is not jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when I has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Ouch. I have a long way to go.
So what is love? Well, that depends which definition you are referring to. The Greek had four words for love. These definitions are loose and quick summaries in my own words. Obviously there is more to it than this.
Eros- swooning, passionate, romantic, sensual.
Phileo- friendship, based on common interests, beliefs, respect, companionship
Agape- unconditional, all-encompassing, pure, the love of God for mankind, already yours
Each aspect of love can be a potential source for healing, each can be a source of pain.
Perhaps you are longing for a partner to do life with, perhaps you are longing for your partner to change.
You may be missing a dear friend or in conflict with one.
You may have run from your family, the dynamics too painful. You may be longing for a family of your own or relief from the one you have.
You may have been scarred by errant teachings, judgment from a church.
Regardless of where you are, your relationship status, why not use today to go beyond the commercial definitions and show love to others and, in doing so, experience love for yourself?
Invite friends to dinner.
Bring muffins to someone in need.
Write a note to someone you appreciate.
Paul used two words to describe what love is: Patient and kind.
Love is listening to a friend in crisis.
Love is serving with no expectations.
Love is taking a moment to ask about someone’s day.
Can you give those gifts to others today? Can you give them to yourself?
And know that no matter how lonely today may make you feel, love is available. In giving it, we receive. You are seen. You are loved. You are enough.
Wishing you a day filled with gifts that cannot be purchased. Cheers!