I come from a long line of party animals and by this, I mean that I have some passionate European blood pumping through my veins. As I was growing up, a celebration of any type included tons of laughter, loud and animated discussions, kids running around, beverages being poured and plenty of stuffing oneself with delicious food and affectionate moments. Please eat your fill and then have some more- you don’t look full enough. I love the scene in the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ where Mom offers food to the fiance who politely declines. Mom nods and says, “…okay, I make you something.” I can relate. I’ve been called a food-pusher once or a million times.
My parents began celebrating Valentine’s Day with us kids during my middle school years. We were the valentines. On Valentine’s evening we had a feast of waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries. It became a big candlelit affair complete with candies, flowers, the exchanging of Valentine’s Day cards, and heart decor. Even after I got married, Cliff and I went to Mom and Dad’s for Valentine’s Day.
Fast forward a few years and surviving a near-fatal automobile accident (by God’s grace alone I survived!), I feel a desperate need and urgency to celebrate everything- Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween (a chili feed with the neighbors), Valentine’s Day and all the usuals like Christmas, of course. My philosophy: life is too short to not celebrate. You never know what celebration will be your last. You never know what celebration will be the other person’s last.
Breathe each moment in.
Breathe your relationships in.
Breath the joys and blessings of life in.
Hold onto laughter and fight hard for love.
Then breathe life, peace and love into the lives of others.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just about celebrating romance. It’s an easy excuse and opportunity for me to reflect on the various seasons of love I’ve experienced…
Love that is sought out and fought for year after year.
Love that is guarded from countless temptations.
Love for my precious children.
Love for family members who don’t hear from me often for whatever reason.
Love for my precious friends who’ve known me for so long that it would be easy for them to rattle off my flaws and yet they don’t.
Love I don’t deserve.
Love that has caused pain and growth simultaneously.
Fresh love that is growing within new friendships – tender and fragile.
Love that heavily weighs on me for those that are broken and hurting.
Love that is hard to extend sometimes when the other person is undeserving, hurtful, resentful, disrespectful, confusing, or rude. This love is tough to extend but grows when practiced. A wise man (my dad) once told me that while we may not like someone, we can still love them. I have found this to be so very true in my life as my likes, dislikes, appreciation, or weariness from a situation or person can change from day to day. In some situations, it can indeed be easier to love someone with my actions and words even if I don’t like them. Sometimes the flip side is true.
Valentine’s day is the limo waiting outside the door to usher me in style from Point A; appreciating my relationships- to Point B; expressing that appreciation. Cards are written and bountiful, delicious treats are readily available, and the feelings of anticipation are in the air, strung to our hearts like mylar balloons. Who’s going to extend love to me today?
Everyone needs love, even if they seem like they don’t. Perhaps this is why the Great Commission is so great! Loving your neighbor can be so dang hard! It’s in the moments we struggle with love that we realize what real love is and isn’t.
Our love, er, my love is flawed. I have tenancies toward selfishness, pride, hurt feelings, judgment, etc. God’s love is unconditional, perfect and complete. We can trust this love. We can set this love as our standard. We can pay this love forward and rest in the honest fact that our efforts may be broken or not received anyway but we get to love regardless.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 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.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.