Yesterday I stood in a long line with a bunch of bananas and a Valentine card that a 5 year old had picked for his Nana. I watched around me as stressed out guys picked through wilting flowers and searched through empty card racks. I was surprised by the number of women also searching for a day-of gift. I found it purely comical that all the "wife" cards had been moved smack dab in the center of the bouquets of dying flowers. It was Valentine's Day. Not a lot of thought put into these last minute gifts, but then again we had been snowed in. These poor souls. Could I blame them?
Then I watched the newsfeed. Couple selfies popping up with notes about their date-night plans. Photos of bouquets and gifts that had been given and received. Among the mix, a few status updates from people trying to avoid what was happening all around them.
I have this love-hate feeling about Valentine's Day. I hate the pressure it creates for someone to forcibly express their love all because a national holiday demands it. I also hate the fact that people who don't have someone to share this day with feel even more alone all because a holiday seems to highlight their relationship status - or lack thereof.
Then again, I love Valentine's Day. I love what it represents. I love a reason to celebrate the ones you love. I love the pictures of couples still in love. I love the well planned gifts, especially those out of the ordinary, with captions of "how well the one I love knows me."
I celebrate Valentine's but not because I'm the one with a fairytale. I've always celebrated Valentine's because I believe in love. Even when I didn't feel it. Even when I didn't know it. Even when it wasn't real for me.
I know what the Bible says about love and I also know how humanly difficult this is for us to achieve in our flesh. We love because He first loved us.
The very heart that beats within, the darkest corners that hide pride and selfishness, the chambers that are crowded by self-seeking measures and one-sided attempts at receiving, are all directly contradictory of what we should be doing and celebrating. What I now understand of love is that it truly seeks nothing for itself. Its very existence is to demonstrate, to give and to serve.
Today all the Valentine candy and decor is half price (or more, if you're lucky). The holiday has come and gone. Whether or not you went to bed on Valentine's night feeling loved, today the mere fact that the calendar has turned causes the gifts still sitting on store shelves to lose their value. But rest assured, you have not lost yours.
No matter what day the calendar says it is, no date, no holiday, no celebration causes you to have any less value. Each day, every day, is a day you were given to love and be loved. Believe me when I say this doesn't have to be in the form of a spouse. For the single person it may be her children. For the barren woman it may be her extended family. For the lonely person it may be a friend. For the searching soul it may be your Creator.
It's the day after Valentine's Day. Another day to celebrate. Another day to love because He first loved us. Even if that love isn't in a tangible human form. The greatest of these is Love. Happy February 15th.