Valentine’s Day is all about love, right? You make dinner reservations for two, buy your special someone a gift, and light some pretty candles. The stores get packed with the cultural merchandise in red and pink, stock kids’ valentines (that better come with candy these days), and teddy bears so huge, one might have nightmares about them.
And you probably think that one like me is cynical about Valentine’s Day and snobbishly brushes it off as unimportant.
But you’re wrong. I love celebrating Valentine’s Day. What peeves me is that the culture would have me think I’m not allowed to celebrate it – just because I don’t have someone to receive a dozen roses from. What my problem is, is not that I’m sad I don’t have anyone to go out to dinner with. I’m sad that the world has got their definition of celebrating love all wrong.
Yes, celebrate love between spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends. But don’t force upon us the idea that that’s the only kind of love to celebrate. Because 1 John tells us a different story:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10-11)
“We love because He first loved us […] And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love His brother.” (1 John 4:19, 21)
Love is defined in God Himself. And He commands us to love one another. All of the one anothers. All our brothers and sisters in Christ. God sets the example, and then He expects us to love like He did.
This is what I love about the Bible that is so different from the culture. The Bible doesn’t exclude certain people from giving and receiving love – it doesn’t prohibit some people from celebrating what is the most beautiful gift on earth – love. Instead, it declares love as an indication of knowing God – and the expression of it as a rightful gift of worship back to our Creator.
And this kind of love, the agape love that gives everything, is so much deeper and sacrificial than anything the world can offer in its $4 greeting cards. It encompasses every other kind of love that we can have – friendship love, parent/child love, sibling love, body of Christ love, teacher/student love, marital love – and any other kind of love you can think of.
I have actually had the privilege of experiencing this in the last few years as a teacher. I’ve received so many gifts and cards from my students on Valentine’s Day the past few years, I have been humbled by the abundance of their love. And this has been a firsthand reminder that I don’t need only one kind of love on Valentine’s Day.
So, because of this, I propose not that we start celebrating Valentine’s Day less – but that we start celebrating it more. Why don’t we decorate our homes with reminders of true, Biblical love at Valentine’s Day? Why don’t we have parties like we do at Christmas? Why don’t we teach our kids how to reach out in love to all those around us, and that it’s not just about getting a cutesy rhyme from your crush? Why don’t we stop feeling bitter about being “left out” and just replace it with a celebration of our own – a celebration that shouts of experiencing God’s love and giving it away in abundance to others who might need a little more of it this time of year?
Valentine’s Day, this year, I’m taking you back. You don’t get to make me feel like the pitiable one, the lonely one, or the leftover anymore. You don’t get to laugh in my face anymore with your cloying red hearts, fuzzy teddy bears, and over-priced chocolates. I refuse to be barred from this one holiday because I don’t have a significant other.
Are you kidding me? I have lots of others in my life, and I think they’re all pretty significant. And I am going to love them so hard, it will put your trite little poems to shame.
Because guess what? I love to celebrate – and there is a lot of love in my life to celebrate. You don’t get to tell me that there is only one kind of love to celebrate on your day, and that I don’t get to participate in that.
I’m going to have a party, I’m going to dress up in my fancy clothes, and I’m having friends over. And we’re going to laugh and play games and eat food and celebrate the most amazing love of all – the love that rescued dead sinners and made us alive in Christ, allowing us to love others like He does.
To borrow a line from “The Greatest Showman” – “I don’t care, I don’t care if they call me crazy” – because people who go against cultural stereotypes usually are a little bit.
But that’s where the change in thought always starts. With one person saying, “What if?” What if we made this holiday about so much more than our own little two-person world? And what if we touched the lives of so many more people in the process?
It might be the most beautiful Valentine’s Day you ever experienced.