It’s the love month – February – and I often wonder why we don’t celebrate love all the rest of the 11 months of the year? Surely this world would be a better place if we were reminded to show love all year long, wouldn’t it?
Yeah, I know, we celebrate love and affection this month because of Valentine’s Day which is tomorrow. But today, I’m considering why we even celebrate this holiday at all.
I know the day is named for Saint Valentine, a Catholic priest who lived in Rome during the third century and secretly performed Christian marriage ceremonies for Roman soldiers and their wives.
At the time, Rome was ruled by a pagan emperor who outlawed marriages for his soldiers because no doubt he believed their only focus should be Rome and protecting it.
Valentine was imprisoned for his so-called crimes and eventually executed on February 14. His focus on the importance of love survived and became the stuff of legends.
When Rome became predominantly Christian 200 years later, the Catholic Church, in an attempt to abolish a pagan ritual which had been annually held in February, proclaimed this day as Saint Valentine’s Day.
And so a holiday began. Now all these centuries later, it’s a highly commercialized money-maker. If you visited any store shortly after Christmas – and in some cases even before – store shelves teemed with Valentine greetings, gifts, candy, and all kinds of merchandise pertaining to this holiday.
Buy your sweetheart this fancy card declaring your love. Or this gargantuan stuffed animal. Or this massive heart-shaped box of chocolates. Or a dozen (or more!) red roses. Or this glittering diamond jewelry.
All purchased and delivered to demonstrate your love.
Well, gifts are nice. They can be lovely and yes, certainly heart-felt tokens of affection. And some folks’ boats are definitely floated by receiving gifts. It’s one of those five love languages first written about back in the 1990’s in a book by Christian counselor Gary Chapman.
But for me, purchasing a Valentine doo-dad off the Wal-Mart shelf just doesn’t measure up to showing how much you love someone.
Instead, my go-to for demonstrating love – any kind of love, not just romantic – comes straight from one entire chapter in my Bible.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 New International Version (NIV)
How can I show love every day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day?
By being patient with those around me. Being kind to others and not envious of someone else’s success. By not boasting or being prideful about myself.
By honoring others and putting them before me. By being even-tempered and keeping short accounts when it comes to wrongdoings done to me. By seeking truth and rejoicing in it not in evil actions.
By always being faithful to protect my loved ones. By trusting, hoping, and persevering through difficulties with them.
My litmus test? Inserting my name in place of the word ‘love’ in a passage of that scripture. Example: Mama’s Empty Nest is patient. Mama’s Empty Nest is kind, etc.
Because when I do these things, I open up my heart to love – real, honest-to-goodness love. Love to last beyond Valentine’s Day.
“Love stretches your heart and makes you big inside.” ~ Margaret Walker