Sometimes I think of these really pretentious analogies for ordinary things.
Like saying that today is like a comma.
I didn’t really have a lot to say about anything today because my life has been saturated with Sing Song, so I haven’t had time to consider a whole lot else. It’s like I’ve had a lot to say before this point, and I will after, but for now, there’s a pause and that’s as liberating as it is frustrating for someone wanting to continue writing consistently.
Luckily, as soon as I logged onto Twitter this morning, I was reminded that it was in fact Valentine’s Day as well. So there’s something.
I never really have a lot to say about Valentine’s Day, but that’s because I’ve never really had cause to say anything. Plus there are a thousand other blogs from a thousand other perspectives that give better insight than I could provide, if not at least more… Passionate opinions on the holiday.
Some of you who know me may be outraged at my forgetting that today is Valentine’s Day because I have a girlfriend. Those of you who know me even better may then remember the details of my relationship and realize that forgetting Valentine’s Day isn’t really the sort of awful, relationship-ending flub that someone else, perhaps in a younger stage of a relationship, might face.
Also, I figure it’s a little easier to forget when your girlfriend is over 4800 miles away at the moment.
Valentine’s Day and, moreso, the opinions surrounding it, have always fascinated me. I can sympathize with all the single people, mellow and aggressive alike, and I can sympathize with all the couples as well, fawning over each other and posting on social media about how much they love one another and how great the other one is and all that great stuff that gives the single kiddos something to rage or otherwise feel sad about.
And I realize that’s a pretty broad generalization, but I don’t feel like that sort of satire can be made if it didn’t have that cornerstone of truth in it. But I know this is a divisive holiday, so I asked the dudes in my small group today what they thought of the holiday, and I was both surprised and not by their responses and the consensus we came to.
Valentine’s is (or at least it has become) a holiday of expectation.
And I think that is one of the saddest things.
Now, I’m not the sort that likes to go off talking about how Valentine’s was created by Hallmark or how it’s a farce or anything like that. And I don’t totally align myself with the “Everyday should be Valentine’s because you should love each other all the time!” crowd either. I think it’s great to have a day to focus on the one you love. But I think it’s also a slippery slope for the exact reason I brought up: I don’t think love has any root in expectation, or at least it shouldn’t.
Granted, Mackenzie and I have never expected much from the other on Valentine’s Day. Today we texted a little and told each other we loved and missed each other, but that was about it. And I’m totally fine with that, and unless the mode has suddenly and tragically been switched up on me from last year, I think she’s totally fine with that, too (If that proves not to be the mode any longer, expect next week’s post to be titled somewhere along the lines of “How a Foot in My Mouth Ended the Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Known”). Now, if she were here, yeah, I’d want to take her out to dinner and/or something, partially because we’re terrible at planning special outings with each other anyway.
This year, though, I did spice it up by photoshopping my face onto one of her pictures from Oxford to make it look like we’d spent Valentine’s Day together in a move that some have called “Stalker-riffic.”
But I’ve never been one for huge displays, either. In Seventh grade when I had a close approximation of a girlfriend, I got her this thing of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Then I felt like it wasn’t enough. So I got her another one. Mackenzie’s and my second date was on Valentine’s. So I got her a 5 lb. bag of chocolate, not even Valentine-themed chocolate, and wrote her a note, called it good. But the note was what mattered to her. And the note that she gave me in addition to the cuddly little teddy bear was what mattered to me.
And earlier this week when she texted me about some frustrations she was having in Oxford and stuff she was having to sort out and all these opinions and views she was processing…
That’s when I feel most in love with her.
And I think that’s the sort of renewable love that people really look for, but might come up empty-handed if they seek it in what this holiday has put on them. Love doesn’t expect chocolates, love shouldn’t threaten to end if roses aren’t received, or if the date’s not just right. All these things are really great and ways that we can show our affection, but love shouldn’t hinge on a day and it sure as doody shouldn’t be comparative.
I promised myself I wouldn’t post about Valentine’s Day and share the “characteristics of love” passage from 1st Corinthians at the same time, so to stay true to myself, turn to that passage yourself and see what it says about love boasting and then go to facebook and look at both the people who had great and people who had terrible Valentine’s Days. Maybe you can extrapolate what I’m getting at.
God is love. Jesus came to earth to show us how to love everyone around us. And love is humble. Love is shown through service, through attentiveness. And if the focus is put on chocolates, on flowers, on absurdly-sized plush animals, then what percentage is leftover for the person?
I don’t want to put love in a box. Which is ironic because to make a call to reframe love and the holiday that pays tribute to it is just putting it in a different box.
But never let your idea of your adequacy to love someone hinge on Valentine’s Day or their birthday or any isolated event. Love is gradual, love is constant, and I think that when we have one set day to focus, there’s a sense that it must intensify. But don’t forget you’re loving a “who.”
I think giving chocolates to your significant other is serving them.
I think going to get McDonald’s with them and watching Netflix is serving them.
I think the time we have with our loved ones, especially in a romantic way, is the most important time we will ever spend on this Earth.
So spend it with them. But make sure you’re there with them.
Even if it’s just a matter of a few exchanged texts, and a poorly photoshopped picture. Don’t let anyone define love for you, but make sure you’re intentional about defining for yourself.
And if you need help with that, I know a God who’s pretty good about it.
Today is like a comma for me. I’m a little drained. But I want to take the pause in this “sentence” to think of the girl I love even though I can’t be with her. Because in the part of the sentence before today, I loved her and let her know it as best I could. And in the part of the sentence that will follow, I’ll continue to love her and let her know it as best I can.
Maybe we all just need more commas. And maybe we need to share them, too.
(For those of you seeking actual insight and some really great stories, my good friend, Ben, also blogs and wrote a great piece about the messages about love that we’re giving the younger generations over here.)