Before anyone clicks off and does not listen to my reasoning, let me say that this is strictly my opinion after years and years living through all the hype that comes with Valentines Day—from teen years, through college years, through dating, marriage and parenting, as a teacher, as a wife, as a mother, and as a parent and now as a grandparent.
Valentines Day is a commercial creation but it has so colored our world with the demand that everybody has someone to which they are romantically connected and should honor with some tangible manner that one lovesanother.
In a way, Valentines Day has diminished the all-powerful concept of love that God has deemed we should demonstrate to one another. Love is a lifestyle for me. Love is a driving force for my day. Love is living.
Years ago I adopted a mantra for myself: Love God. Love life. Love one another. Love is the fuel that gives me energy, moves me into action, filters the world that I observe day in and day out whether in person or through the various screens that brings the world into my frame of knowledge.
God loves us. We are to serve as his arms and feet here in this earthly world in which we live. God shows love to all that lives and breathes in this world. Therefore, we are to do all that we can to share that love in any way that we can whenever we can with all we can in all the places we can—yes, John Wesley’s mantra, I know.
Each time I sit down to compose another blog entry, I do it because I love God, I love life, and I love others. This is unconditional love. I may not love the actions or the situations or the manner something is handled, but I love the people, the living beings, the earth and all it houses for us—mountains, rivers, plains, deserts; weather of all kinds; flowers and trees, birds, animals and so much more.
Valentines Day says, “I love you.” But all too often Valentines Day narrows the focus of love into one small definition—romantic love for one other person.
Therefore, Valentines Day makes me cringe.
This morning I am home bound thanks to the nutsy weather (yes I do love the weather even when it can be scary); so I watched my Sunday morning worship service on line. Thank you to Rev. Jim Downing, Sedalia’s First UMC, for his Valentines sentiment to me—and all the others who were able to hear his message today (it can be heard on line at http://firstsayyes.com/worshipand search for today’s sermon, February 10, 2019).
God’s love is the ultimate Valentines Day sentiment, but Downing artfully spelled it out through his explanation of the expansive term of love through C.S. Lewis’s four types of love (which can be further explored at http://www.cslewis.com/tag/the-four-loves/) and then took it even further by reviewing and even demonstrating Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages(located at https://www.5lovelanguages.com).
For those who reading a printed version here is a very brief summary of these two views of love:
C.S. Lewis’s four types of love:
Gary Chapmanthen develops the five languages of love to help us understand how we perceive love from someone or how we demonstrate love to others:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Downing also returned to one of the most recognizable scriptures concerning love. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he provided a definition of love (I Corinthians 13:4-8, CEB):
4Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
The full chapter I Corinthians 13 is often referred to as “The Love Chapter” and often used in weddings, but looking at these four verses through the filter of Lewis’s four loves and Chapman’s five languages of love, the full extent of love is much more than the simple expression of saying “I love you” on a Valentines card.
After listening to Downing’s sermon and reviewing the types of love and the languages of love, I can better articulate why Valentines Day makes me cringe.
God asks us to love one another and the fact that for one day a year we are socially pushed to demonstrate that love through some tangible manner just makes me cringe. We should not be limited to how we share love as Chapman reminds us; nor should we be led to think that only gifts are the way to demonstrate love.
And another point that causes me to cringe: love is not just romantic. Love is so complex that it colors every relationship that we experience—even relationships that are in passing, that are work-centered, that are random, that are outwardly established by forces that we have no control over.
God has established only one commandment that he personally demonstrated through the life and ministry of his only son Jesus Christ. That commandment is a Valentines to all humanity: Love one another as you want to be loved.
I cannot express a better sentiment to the world in which I live. I love you! I love you as a friend, as a mother, as a spouse, as a grandmother, as a teacher, as a pastor, as a human, as a pet owner, as a bird feeder, as a gardener, as a neighbor, as a fellow Christian, or as any other identifying label that I can fill.
I love God. I love life. I love one another to the very best of my ability. I want to share whatever I can with anyone else that I can so they can experience the joy of living in this glorious world with all its crazy weather, all its various climates, with all the nations.
Maybe I cringe at the cultural hype of Valentines Day, but I hope that through this you know that I love you—each and every one of you. I hope that you know I want to do all that I can in all kinds of ways to make sure you know that you are loved.
Thank you for being part of my world and for letting me love you. I pray you know love.
Please join in the prayer:
Dear loving God,
Thank you for loving each and every one of us.
Thank you for all the emissaries through which you send messages of love each and every day.
Guide us in finding ways to love one another each and every day including Valentines Day.
Guide us in accepting sentiments of love from you:
–like the crystal world of ice shining in the
–like the sounds of the birds as they gather the
sunflower seeds put out on top of the ice;
–like the warmth of a puppy placing a chin
on a knee in complete trust;
–like the taste of a warm cookie cooked with love.
Open our hearts as we walk through these crazy, earthly-bound days so we experience your love.
Open our minds to all the ways we can say love to one another.
Open our doors so we can welcome love in to stay.
May we share your love by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is You within us, when we accept your love, sent us in the form of your son Jesus Christ. –Amen