When I was a kid, I loved Valentine’s Day! I’d spend days crafting a box to hold all my little goodies. I’d pick out my favorite candy and sign my name to cute little cards. In my class, everyone had to be included on Valentine’s Day. It was all about friendship. And candy.
Once I hit junior high, I quickly realized the significance of the day had changed. It was suddenly about boyfriends and roses. And not everyone was included anymore. Instead of facing the day with anticipation, I spent the day battling feelings of rejection, hurt, and jealousy. I rarely had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. And the one time in high school that I did, I was excited to get my obligatory roses. However, I quickly realized that something was amiss in my heart when I didn’t care as much about who gave them to me. I was simply excited to be included in the exclusive “boyfriend club” and I carried my roses home like a trophy that day. Obviously, that “relationship” didn’t last long. And though I am sure the roses were over-priced and expensive, they felt cheap.
My 20’s were more of the same. A rare Valentine’s day involved a boyfriend, but most of them were spent without. I’d love Valentine’s Day one year, then hate it the next. It was so hard not to buy in to what our culture was trying to sell me. A cheap version of love that costs a lot of money.
Now that I’m married, my three Valentine’s Days spent with my husband have been a lot of fun. But, they haven’t been more special than any other day – not because my husband doesn’t do a good job giving me gifts or planning a date! It’s just that I think I’ve finally grasped what love is. And it isn’t a dozen roses.
Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
We know that Jesus’s sacrifice for us is the ultimate expression of love. It wasn’t cheap, but cost Him His life so that we can have ours eternally. And that love is for everyone who accepts it. Not just for those who are members of the exclusive “boyfriends/husbands club.”
I’m so thankful that my husband shows me that he loves me every day, not just on the one day our culture tells him to. He can pull off something romantic, sure. But, he usually shows me that he loves me by daily laying his life down for me and our little family. A reflection of Christ’s love in the mundane. A greater love wipes down the kitchen counter to help me keep the house clean. Greater love takes out the trash and picks up dog poop. It gets up with the baby in the middle of the night. And yet, even my husband’s great love for me falls short of the love that God has for me. I wish I had grasped that more fully in the past.
I don’t hate Valentine’s Day as much as I did when I was single, nor do I love it as much as when I was a kid. I know now that Valentine’s Day is just a fun holiday that comes around once a year, but true love lasts for years, every single day. I know now that great love isn’t expressed in roses or candy (though they can’t hurt) but in daily acts of sacrifice and service. I know now that the only relationship that determines my value is my relationship with my Savior. Valentine’s Day displays of affection can’t compare to the ultimate display of true love on the Cross.
“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19