What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?” “What did you get for Valentine’s Day?” “What did you give?” Common questions this time of year. It’s easy to be caught up in the moment and want to impress by the gift or what was received – or both. However, love is more than one day. Love is more than presents.
Who was St. Valentine anyway? He was a priest and bishop who lived in the mid-fourth century. It was a time when an emperor named Claudius set forth an edict banning the marriage of young people. He wanted his soldiers to be single-minded in battle. St. Valentine secretly married many people. He held true to his faith in prison, curing the judge’s daughter of her blindness, which caused the judge and his entire family to convert to Christianity!
Love of God was his driving force. Giving up his own life to be true to God.
It’s been said and discussed in many forums that love is not only a feeling, it is an action and a call to live one’s life for another. How do we do that? How do we move past ourselves and our needs and our wants and look at another as more important than ourselves?
Valentine’s Day as it is in the secular world today focuses on romantic love and outward gifts to show the world how much one person loves another. With social media, it can become quite the contest. How quickly we can go from being happy and content with our relationship to seeing the bouquets of flowers or candy or jewelry with the posts about, “I’m so lucky/blessed…” In comes the sting of rejection. The disastrous “if-onlys.”
My husband and I went anti-Valentine’s Day even before we were married. It isn’t that we don’t like to give each other gifts or go out for dinner, but we both cringe at the inflated prices that going out on the day that we are SUPPOSED to go out if we really love each other (insert eye roll here) brings. Oh the deals that can be found on candy and flowers the week AFTER Valentine’s Day!! The pressure to put on a good show can be overwhelming and invites a failure to succeed without even trying.
No, showing love and bringing love into our home needs to happen on a daily, even hourly, basis. We’re human, and as such, we fail at love. We fall down in our expectations – of ourselves and of each other.
As our children are getting closer to being adults and having relationships of their own, I am becoming increasingly aware of how our actions will affect their future relationships, how important modeling a healthy marriage relationship is. Yet, see above. We’re human, and we do not model a healthy relationship all the time. We in turn need to look to the Holy Father and the Holy Family for our examples. When we fail, we need to pick ourselves back up and try again, with God guiding us.
We have been called to marriage and raising a large family. Our goal in life is to raise our children to know love within marriage and family and to feel secure in being loved, living loved. Our children need to know we love each other and they need to know they are loved, not because of what they do or achieve, but because of who they are.
Again, this isn’t a one-time declaration. Every day, multiple times a day, they need to see, hear, and feel that they are loved. Not just from us, because we are flawed. We will let them down. When we do, we will seek forgiveness and try again. However, they need to know that even though human love is flawed, God’s love is constant and perfect. They were created in love, by God, for a purpose. Each one unique.
When we turn into ourselves and worry about whether we are receiving enough attention, affection, accolades, we turn away from this truth; we turn away from God. Instead of growing in God’s love, we try to feel loved through other people’s reactions. Almost a sure-fire way to find rejection.
St. Valentine didn’t perform marriages because he was a hopeless romantic. He did so because he served God and not man. His security wasn’t found in human laws or holidays, it was found in God’s will for his life.
So we pick ourselves up and try again. We resolve to be closer to God, to follow Him, and to lead our children to Him through our loving example. When the ugly words start to come out, when we feel less than, we need to turn again to God. We need to keep our eyes on Him. He is always here for us, always loving us, with a perfect love that never ends.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:37-39